Ralph just can’t quite understand how he got to where he is, chained to a rickety shelter, and in pain from random beatings. His life wasn’t always like this. He remembers being loved, having regular meals and jumping in the fallen leaves. As time passes, his despair turns to desperation. How long is he to suffer?
When Leaves Fall by C.A. King is a short, young adult novel told through the perspective of an abused canine. As we’ve had more than our share of doggy family members, the story appealed to me emotionally. Our most recent heartbreak happened when our faithful friend Chokis was maliciously poisoned.(See 101 Perritos)
Chained, malnourished dogs are a common sight here in Mexico, especially with types of dogs bred for fighting. In January of 2017, the Mexican Congress passed a law that takes the country one step closer to ensuring this inhumane activity can be penalized throughout the country. (See Mexico says ‘no mas’ to dogfighting) In June of the same year, the law was finally approved. Dog fighting is illegal in Mexico, punishable by up to 5 years in jail and $8,300 USD in fines. If the offender is a Mexican public official, jail time is increased up to 7.5 years. (See Dog fights as sport now illegal in Mexico)
Although I enjoyed When Leaves Fall by C.A. King, there were a few things that I think the author could have done to add to Ralph’s story. First, Ralph is never identified by breed, so the reader never gets a clear picture of Ralph. I understand that the author wanted to be inclusive by implying that this could happen to any type of dog classified as “dangerous” but I felt it detracted from the story. While I was reading, I was jumping back and forth with different dog bodies trying to get a good image of Ralph in my mind.
Secondly, the section of the book that was not told through Ralph’s eyes didn’t seem realistic to me. Would a woman return an engagement ring in a courtroom over animal abuse? Although there are established ties between animal abuse and domestic violence (How Are Animal Abuse and Family Violence Linked? ), statistics show that it takes some time for a woman to leave an abusive relationship permanently. (See Eliminate That Seven Times Statistic, 50 Obstacles to Leaving: 1-10). Is it realistic to believe that what happened to Ralph was enough to save Syndey and her unborn child from the potentially abusive relationship?
Interestingly, many of Ralph’s thoughts as a victim mirror what the mental process of a human victim of abuse. (See EFFECTS OF DOMESTIC VIOLENCE, DOMESTIC ABUSE (ON WOMEN AND CHILDREN).
I rate this book 3 out of 4 stars for the above-mentioned reasons.
Animal lovers and compassionate young adult readers will enjoy When Leaves Fall by C.A. King. As the writing is somewhat simplistic in an effort to present the situation through the dog’s eyes, this book might not appeal to everyone.