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Straydog

3.83  ·  Rating Details ·  260 Ratings  ·  49 Reviews
A powerful debut novel

A female collie mix, so beautiful, all gold and white and dirty; she’s in the last cage on the aisle, curled up quiet, watching everything – but when I get too close she goes completely crazy, biting at the bars, herself, anything in reach, until I back off and away. Her growl’s like ripping metal, jagged, dangerous, and strong . . . Don’t mess with m
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Hardcover, 112 pages
Published April 12th 2002 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR)
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Black Beauty by Anna SewellA Dog's Life by Ann M. MartinDeath at SeaWorld by David  KirbyInto the Wild by Erin HunterThe Underneath by Kathi Appelt
Best Animal Rights Books
16th out of 181 books — 105 voters
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark HaddonThe Hound of the Baskervilles by Arthur Conan DoyleA Dog's Purpose by W. Bruce CameronThree Men in a Boat by Jerome K. JeromeHeart of a Dog by Mikhail Bulgakov
Dogs, Literal and Metaphorical
38th out of 132 books — 48 voters


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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
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Robert Beveridge
Jan 23, 2008 Robert Beveridge rated it it was amazing
Kathe Koja, Straydog (FSG, 2002)

Over the course of my existence I've read somewhere between fifteen and twenty thousand books. While I am one of those people who will start sniffling at the merest hint of decently-rendered emotion in a movie, and bawl like a baby when certain songs come on the radio, I've never been that way with books. With reflection, I've been able to think of three books that reduced me to tears while reading them (Wilson Rawls' Where the Red Fern Grows, Kathe Koja's Strange
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TheSaint
Nov 10, 2008 TheSaint rated it really liked it
Shelves: ya
Maybe if I hadn't read The Pawprints of History first I wouldn't have been so emotionally effected by Kathe Koja's startlingly good book Straydog.
In just over 100 pages, Koja tells the story of Rachel, who is a character too big for her small-world high school, and her hopeful and hopeless relationship with Grrl, an injured feral collie temporarily housed at the animal shelter where she volunteers. Rachel's writing ability, nurtured by a sympathetic English teacher, allows her to believably cre
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Sarah Marie
3 stars
I don't like dog books, never have even when I was little. That's more of my sister's area, but I liked this book, which is a surprise. We had to read this book as a group in class and when I first saw this book I thought "Great another Lassie story, I just can't wait to be bored to death." I know, I know it sounds mean. I know the saying don't judge a book by it's cover, but I judged it by its title, too. When I started reading this book I had no clue what it was about, because our teac
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Dylan Lien
May 11, 2016 Dylan Lien rated it really liked it
The fiction novel called the Straydog by Kathe Koja is based on a girl named Rachael volunteering at an animal shelter. Rachel finds a newly arrived collie that she names Grrl. Rachel is a compulsive writer who is inspired to work on a dog’s-eye view of street life that her creative-writing teacher urges her to finish and submit to a competition. Meanwhile, Rachel is making another connection this time with a classmate named Griffin. Griffin offers his backyard as a pen for Grrl, but Rachel retu ...more
Meaghan
A slim but very powerful novella. This is the kind of thing that makes people cry, and not just animal lovers. Grrl reminded me not only of stray dogs but also stray kids, foster kids and the like, and the good-hearted people who try to heal their wounds and make homes for them. I was deeply touched.
Aaliyah
Mar 17, 2016 Aaliyah rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Rachel is a Loner in her school. she has no Friends and no one knows that much about her. if there in her Writing Class they know she's a good writer and that's about it. One day that changes, Griffen starts school and is paired up with Rachel in the writing class. Rachel and Griffen become friends over there writing. Griffen goes to the Animal shelter with her were she works to meet Grrl the dog Rachel has been writing about. Now, Grrl is a Wild Feral Collie that Rachel wants to Tame an d Keep. ...more
Madi B.
I loved this book so so so much! Kathe Koja is such a skilled writer and I enjoyed her book very much. I loved how much I could relate to this story. When reading books, the story has to have a connection with me in some way or it doesn't interest me. This story nailed it! I have the same feelings as the main character and a lot of the same experiences. This was a quick and easy read and very enjoyable as well. I highly recommend this book! It is so good. I literally cried at a few points I'm th ...more
Elizabeth Wallace
Feb 12, 2008 Elizabeth Wallace rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: People who have abused animals or want to work at the humane society
I really liked the way the author's point came across at the end, saying how people always see themselves as the hero but it's not always true. Sometimes I feel the same way. Actually, a lot of the time.
Caroline
Sep 12, 2014 Caroline rated it did not like it
This book was on my bookshelf forever, but I only picked it up when I was about 16 for some reason. I couldn't stand the protagonist who, like every other protagonist in YA fiction, is "too smart and different" to fit in at her school. And the oh-so-very-original tearjearker ending...I actually ended up throwing the book out of my bedroom window in a bout of frustration that I wasted three hours of my time reading this, and it landed 18 stories below with a satisfying 'splat.' I've never reacted ...more
Shelley Daugherty
Feb 02, 2012 Shelley Daugherty rated it really liked it
I didn't really know how much I would like this book until I neared the end. Rachel struggles with the idea of 'fitting in' when it comes to people but she has always had a connection to animals. She spends her spare time working at the local shelter and one day a feral collie is brought in. For her writing class, she writes about the feral collie from the dog's eyes and her teacher encourages her to enter the story into a contest. During this time, she can't help but think that she can help thi ...more
Mariel
Mar 23, 2011 Mariel rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: homesick
Recommended to Mariel by: homesick
I'll read anything Kathe Koja writes. She surprises me. I can be moved out of my shell of despair (self, mostly) and feel for somebody else. Too often I can only deal on a plane of removing myself entirely. Spectator not as voyeur but just removing paranoia, fear of heartbreak, that shit. It's hard to explain. It's all messed up if I'm involved. It means everything to me those chances I can feel differently. I write this a lot about the one sided and two sided reading experiences. It's a big one ...more
Peacegal
Jan 17, 2012 Peacegal rated it really liked it
Wow, this book packs a punch for both adult and YA readers. Rachel, a teenage girl who doesn't seem to fit in anywhere finds a place volunteering at an animal shelter. While there, she meets a feral collie she names "Grrl," and becomes determined to save her. Woven in the well-written story are tough life lessons about accepting one's own limitations. Animal welfare advocates will also applaud the young protagonist's assessment of her first-hand experiences of pet owner irresponsibility and its ...more
Rafi Snowden
Apr 23, 2014 Rafi Snowden rated it really liked it
I randomly saw this at the library and took it out to read. Very moving story, with a more realistic description of an animal shelter than you usually find in YA books. The essay written from the dogs point of view was very believable as an interpretation of how a dog would process things.

Has some serious stuff in it, so if your teenager or middle schooler reads it, you may want to discuss it with them after.

This is a good book to give to a teen, or to donate to a school library!
Rachel Brown
A slim YA novel about a teenage girl who works at an animal shelter and becomes obsessed with a feral collie, whom she names Grrrl, becomes determined to save from euthanasia, and identifies with more than is healthy. With that premise, you just know it won't work out well. It's very well-written, and it made me cry in Starbucks.

So far I've liked Koja's YA novels (Buddha Boy and Blue Mirror) even though they're all pretty similar: intense, bordering on stream of consciousness first person narra
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Diane Carrozzo
Aug 13, 2016 Diane Carrozzo rated it it was amazing
I really enjoyed this book. It actually tells two stories: Rachel's and the feral dog she names Grrl. In both cases, the reader comes away with a better understanding of feelings and how people deal with them. To me, this is an honest book. The feelings are real and raw. I definitely recommend this book for everyone, and I will certainly recommend it to my 7th grade students.
Dirk
May 19, 2011 Dirk rated it really liked it
Another YA book. I must be regressing or something. Back in the 90′s Kathe Koja wrote several ‘horror’ novels that were pretty dark and disturbing (to me, anyways) and when I read that she was writing Young Adult novels I pretty much said “what the fuck?” and I wanted to try one of them. And when I saw the cover for this one I wanted to check it out even more.

I liked it. It’s not what I expected. For some reason I was thinking a YA novel would have more of a bunnies and butterflies vibe or somet
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Johanna
Apr 10, 2012 Johanna rated it did not like it
Shelves: engl420
***READ FOR AUTHOR PRESENTATION***
This is the story of a high school girl who is a social outcast and volunteers at the local animal shelter. She becomes attached to a feral dog who is brought in and is devastated when the dog has to be put to sleep. The girl finds healing in her writing and her new friend (also an outcast). Through this creative outlet and this boy, she learns lessons about trust, healing, love, and life.

I did not enjoy this book at all, given that it was extremely cheesy and
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Jo
Jan 28, 2013 Jo rated it really liked it
Where Cages convinced me that I wanted to work in a shelter, Straydog convinced me that I needed to be careful. If I'm not careful, I'll end up one of those crazy cat ladies, only with cats and dogs and everything else pet-ly. Or massively bitter and depressed, and no one needs that. I'll have to think of starfish.

"A guy's walking on a beach where the tide's gone out, leaving thousands of starfish stranded, so as he walks he picks one up, and another, and another, and throws them back into the w
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Jordi Rivera
Mar 15, 2012 Jordi Rivera rated it it was amazing
This book was really confusing when I read the few first chapters. After, I got into it, it patched holes. It's a really good book! It's about a girl who isn't a "cool" kid, and has problems with family. Her parents think she's weird, and need to hang out with friends. Her only friends are animals, but her bestfriends are dogs! They have a certin feeling to them as if they knew what she was going threw. She ran into a dog, that is very rough. Well , im going to stop because im telling the whole ...more
Scott Williams
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Angie
Jan 25, 2010 Angie rated it really liked it
short but excellent story about shelter dogs, and work at an animal shelter. having just taken in another dog myself, i can more readily identify with the main character's drive to not give up on a difficult dog.
boy, is the main character angry! i couldn't figure out why--because she's estranged from her parents? because she doesn't have any friends? she's very smart, high achieving, good grades, dedicated volunteer. so what gives her sucha short fuse? what am i missing?
Jenny
Jan 10, 2011 Jenny rated it liked it
Shelves: teen, realistic, animals
Rachel is a talented writer, but she is an outsider at her school. The only place she feels safe and at home is volunteering at an animal shelter. There she meets Grrl, a feral street dog, and she feels a connection. A new boy in school is also a writer, and Rachl's teacher encourages her to enter a writing contest. Rachel begins a story about Grrl, whom she hopes to save. Tragedy happens and Rachel has to face her pain.
Sara
May 08, 2012 Sara rated it liked it
This book had me bawling by the end. It was a really short book, but took me awhile to get through. I don't know if that was because the writing was small or because I could tell something awful was about to happen and I didn't want to deal with it. Overall it was a good book with a good message, but hard to make yourself read because of the painful ending.
Jennifer Priester
I liked Straydog but some things at the end of the book prevent me from giving it a higher rating. This is a very good story about what happens at many animal shelters but might be a little too realistic for some younger readers, because the dog in the book is also a feral/wild dog. For older readers it is a good and realistic fiction story.
Christina
Apr 18, 2009 Christina rated it really liked it
Shelves: 4, young-adult
A short, quick read about a young girl who loves working at the local animal shelter, especially when a mysterious new collie is brought in. She makes a friend (for once in her life) with a strange new boy in her class. At the same time, she's attempting to finish an essay for a writing contest. This novel has a surprising end.
Roxanne
Mar 21, 2010 Roxanne rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: my 7th and 8th graders
Shelves: realistic
Rachel is an outsider, misunderstood by the other students at her school. She feels most at home when she is working in the animal shelter. One day a dog comes to the shelter that trusts no one. Rachel identifies with and wants to love this dog and give her a better life, but is she too far gone to trust anyone?
Amos
Feb 01, 2009 Amos rated it liked it
Another well written YA yarn, but I'm ready for something from her that I can sink my teeth into. Her new novel for grown folks is coming out soon, and these brief tales have only wet my appetite... Bring it.
Ariana
Jun 17, 2013 Ariana rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
I really like this, and I really want to read more of her books now. I kinda hate dogs but this makes me forget and actually enjoy the story.
Vicki
Jul 01, 2012 Vicki rated it it was ok
Shelves: teen
Rachel finds comfort only in volunteering at the local animal shelter until she makes a friend who share her love of writing and a straydog called Girl who she writes about OK
Sadie
Dec 30, 2014 Sadie rated it it was amazing
A really short book but very emotional, I seriously almost cried. I could almost feel Rachael's pain and anger. This is really, really good 5 stars all the way.
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Kathe Koja (born 1960) is an American writer. She was initially known for her intense speculative fiction for adults, but over the past few years has turned to writing young adult novels.

Koja is also a prolific author of short stories, including many in collaboration with Barry N. Malzberg. Most of her short fiction remains uncollected. Koja's novels and short stories frequently concern characters
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