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When Mr. Dog Bites

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Dylan Mint has Tourette’s. For Dylan, life is a constant battle to keep the bad stuff in – the swearing, the tics, the howling dog that escapes whenever he gets stressed. And, as a sixteen-year-old virgin and pupil at Drumhill Special School, getting stressed is something of an occupational hazard.

But then a routine visit to the hospital changes everything. Overhearing a hushed conversation between the doctor and his mother, Dylan discovers that he's going to die next March.

So he grants himself three parting wishes: three ‘Cool Things To Do Before I Cack It’.

It isn’t a long list, but it is ambitious, and he doesn't have much time. But as Dylan sets out to make his wishes come true, he discovers that nothing – and no-one – is quite as he had previously supposed.

A story about life, death, love, sex and swearing, When Mr Dog Bites will take you on one *#@! of a journey . . .

368 pages, Hardcover

First published February 2, 2012

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About the author

Brian Conaghan

14 books95 followers
Brian Conaghan lives and works in the Scottish town of Coatbridge. He has a Master of Letters in Creative Writing from the University of Glasgow, and worked as a teacher for many years. His novel When Mr Dog Bites was shortlisted for the 2015 CILIP Carnegie Medal. The Bombs That Brought Us Together won the 2016 Costa Children’s Book Award, The Weight of a Thousand Feathers won the 2018 Irish Book Award for Teen/YA Book of the Year, and We Come Apart, a verse novel co-authored with Carnegie Medal-winner Sarah Crossan, won the 2018 UKLA Book Award. Cardboard Cowboys, Brian’s first middle-grade novel, published in 2021 and is full of his trademark heart, humour and crackling dialogue. Swimming on the Moon is his second middle-grade novel. @ConaghanAuthor


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Displaying 1 - 30 of 390 reviews
Profile Image for Kelly (and the Book Boar).
2,483 reviews7,780 followers
July 25, 2014
Find all of my reviews at: http://52bookminimum.blogspot.com/

3.5 Stars

A month or so ago an article appeared that said: “Read whatever you want. But you should feel embarrassed when what you’re reading was written for children.” Upon reading those words, something happened inside of me . . .

Angry Panda got angry . . .

really fucking angry.

The author of the article then proceeded to namedrop several “classics” that grown-ups should read rather than YA, which proved to me that she’s 100% pure asshole. Sure, it’s great to read selections from the “Top 100 Books Before You Cack It” list, but there’s also been some decent stuff written in the last century or that didn’t win a Pulitzer.

WTF difference does it make what a person chooses to read? Unless I’m using your credit card for my Amazon one-clickery-addiction (credit card numbers gladly accepted via private message), it’s nun-ya-damn-bidness. As a parent of a child who is finally getting into reading, there’s nothing like sitting down (with no T.V., or cell phone or video games), and talking about a book we both read.

Grown-ups read YA because the writing is so different from what was available when we were kids. Today’s books for young adults aren’t the Judy Blume (no offense to the lovely Ms. Blume) stories we grew up reading. Yes, there are the Twilights and Divergents and Mortal Instruments, etc., etc. that haters are going to hate on, but there’s also books with heart and soul that push the envelope of “YA”. Books like When Mr. Dog Bites.

Dylan Mint may be 16, but he’s not your average teenager.

This is the story of what happened in Dylan’s life when he thought he only had a few months to live. How he decided that he was “ready to take no shit.” How he planned on running up to the lovely Michelle Malloy and saying: “Hiya, Michelle. How was your summer, babe?” And how, in reality, he’d probably say something more like “YOU’RE A SLUT NEW-BAG WHORE PEG-LEG, MICHELLE MALLOY” thanks to his Tourette’s. How he deals with attending his school, Drumhill, which is “like the scene from the bar in Star Wars [with] mentalists cutting about, talking bonkerinos to each other or themselves.”

And how, even though he’s just a teenager, he already knows the Beatles is the best band ever. (Hear that son? It’s not Kanye West and it never will be.)

Dylan’s story isn’t just for kids. It’s “a-mayonnaise-ing,” and deep, and heartwarming, and hilarious, and most of all it teaches every reader, no matter their age, an important lesson . . .

No matter what I read I’m still probably a fairly shitty person, but at least I’m a shitty person who READS. Grown-ups, young adults, children – don’t EVER let anyone tell you that what you are reading is wrong. If you’re reading at all you’re doing okay.

/end rant

Profile Image for Lisa.
991 reviews3,320 followers
September 7, 2018
It is a bit too close to The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time to be granted originality. But for students who like the genre and enjoyed the Curious Incident as a class novel, it makes for a perfect match on an extended reading list.

Teenagers will love the profanity, the dysfunctional family, the modern take on disabilities, the stance against racism, the sex and the cheesy ending.

As a grown-up, though, I would put my teacher or parent hat on before starting - it is rather flat and one could have edited the novel to cut out at least two hundred pages of repetitive swear words.
Profile Image for Stepheny.
381 reviews545 followers
February 11, 2015
It was Kelly’s review that made me want to pick up this book. I agree wholeheartedly with her sentiment. Readers should read what they want when they want! Break free of the chains that bind you and pick up the book that your heart is calling for.

When I first started When Mr. Dog Bites I fell in love with Dylan. He’s unique. He’s different. He has his own words. A-mayonnaise-ing. He left me feeling confused dot com. But once I got the flow of his writing I was completely enveloped in his story.

Dylan Mint is a Scottish teenager with Tourette’s syndrome. He goes to a “special” school where the other students have varying conditions that prevent them from going to a “normal” public highschool. He lives with his mother and his father is off fighting terrorists in the war.

On a trip to the doctor’s Dylan overhears the doctor talking with his mother and he believes he is going to die. He then decides to face his fate like a man and develops a list: Cool Things to do Before I Cack It.

What transpires through this book is comical and heartwarming. Dylan’s story is fascinating. I think a lot of people have preconceptions about what Tourette’s is but the reality is heartbreaking. Dylan’s struggle to maintain a normal life and have a regular every day conversation with his peers shows how difficult a life with Tourette’s could be.

Overall I felt that the book lacked a central direction. I couldn’t help but feel confused dot com about the message the author was trying to send. The first half of the book flowed very well and I enjoyed the plot and the direction of the story. Towards the middle of the book I found I had a harder time keeping my attention focused on the story and was left feeling kind of “meh” about where it ended up.

I would still recommend the book if for no other reason than the comedic writing. I found Dylan to be truly funny not because of his disorder but because of his personality. So pick it up and give it a try! And stop letting THEM tell you what to read!
577 reviews32 followers
November 1, 2014
Had high hopes for this book, but the overwhelming homophobia and misogyny was just too much. There was no reason for it, at all. Of course, you can have good books about homophobic/misogynistic characters that are still good, but this is not one of them.
Profile Image for Petra.
814 reviews78 followers
September 1, 2016
When Mr. Dog Bites is a young adult story about 16-year-old Dylan who has Tourette's Syndrome. He refers to his uncontrolled outbursts, the pressure that builds up in him when he is stressed, as Mr. Dog because they resemble a snarling, barking monster.
Following a doctor's appointment he attended with his Mum, who is pretty much a single parent while his Dad is apparently away with the army, Dylan believes that he only has months left to live, so he comes up with a bucket list, "Cool Things To Do Before I Cack It". He wants to find his friend Amir another best pal and he wants to seduce Michelle Malloy. Dylan, Amir, who is autistic, and Michelle, who has oppositional defiant disorder, all attend a special school in Scotland and are used to prejudice and bullying on a regular basis.
When Mr. Dog Bites was nominated for the Carnegie Medal last year. A British award that recognizes outstanding new books for children or young adults. It has caused a bit of a stir due to the language used. Yes, there is a LOT of profanity in this book, which has put off some readers. I thought it made the characters and the setting very realistic (I don't mean that in any negative or offending way about Scotland or young people). To me, it sounded authentic and I wasn't bothered by it.
Brian Conaghan draws on his own experience as a Tourette's sufferer and tackles quite a lot of topics in this relatively short story. Amir is a Pakistani who constantly faces racism. There is disability, bullying, abuse, (step-)parenting and single parenting, sex, the list goes on....
If you take the target audience for this to be young people, then I think it had the right depth.
Dylan was a really likable character who stood up for his friend Amir. Dylan's obsession with Cockney rhyming slang was endearing and I loved listening to this on audio. But I didn't feel Dylan was portrayed consistently. There was a lot of switching between being quite mature and then completely childlike, more like a ten-year-old. He doesn't pick up on a lot of 'clues' and remarks that are being made, akin to somebody who is on the autism spectrum. The storyline about his Dad was so obvious I found it difficult to believe a 16-year-old wouldn't start to question things.
Overall though, this was a touching and at times funny story about friendships, families, and diversity which I quite enjoyed.
3.5 stars.
Profile Image for Stephanie (Stepping Out Of The Page).
465 reviews221 followers
February 15, 2014
When Mr Dog Bites is a rather difficult book for me to review. I should start by saying that I didn't know all that much about this book before I started reading - I only read the blurb, and I haven't read anything by this author before. From that alone, I was excited to get started. I loved the sound of this contemporary YA read.

I love reading about real life issues, so reading about a teenager growing up with Tourette's was definitely something that appealed to me and I was interested in how well the subject would be portrayed. Our protagonist, Dylan, also believes he is going to die soon and so I was also interested in seeing what he found most important and what he had on his bucket list. Dylan soon takes action and attempts to win his best friend, Amir, a new pal, and hopes to seduce Michelle Malloy into having sex with him. Alongside that storyline, another issue which is explored throughout the book is Dylan's relationship with his parents, particularly with his father. I found the whole 'revelation' to be extremely predictable, but it did add another slightly more sensible issue to the book, which I thought was appropriate.

When Mr Dog Bites is a strange book to review, because even days after reading it, I'm not sure how I feel about it and I think that it may divide readers. I think the book was okay, it was enjoyable, because I was laid back and relaxed about the issues and situations discussed. There is probably quite a lot of parts of this book that people will take offence to - mocking of disability, racist slurs for example, but rather this is something that gives the story some authenticity, some realism and admittedly, it does add some humour. Conaghan certainly isn't shy in regards to approaching some of those more slightly controversial issues and casually throwing them out into the open. There is quite a lot of profanity in the book, and at points it sometimes unfortunately did feel quite forced, making reading a little tiresome. However, it can't be denied that these things are also what made the characters more real and in the end, more likeable. Despite not particularly liking Dylan's attitude or outlook at the beginning, I did feel like I really knew him by the end of the book and yes, I could understand him and his feelings more.

Overall, this is a book that I think that will be successful, as long as the potential readers are laid back and aren't going to over analyse it. It's not an ideal book to review, because I don't think it's some sort of masterpiece, nor is it trying to be. This book seems like an attempt to make readers open up towards some issues that probably shouldn't be so stigmatised in the first place, which can only be a good thing.
July 11, 2014
What happens when you get a teenage narrator who has Tourette's, a great personality and goes to a school for kids with special needs? The correct answer is this freaking hilarious book called When Mr. Dog Bites!

Brian Conaghan did a PHENOMENAL job of integrating hilarity, hope, heart ache and kindness into this novel. I'm finding it hard to put into words what I want to say so I'll just say this: Dylan Mint {our MC} is literal, has the most hilarious outbursts {which in real life I wouldn't laugh at but in this book I made an exception}, has a heart of gold and is the best friend anyone could ask for. Amir {the best friend} has Autism and is so delightful. We laugh with them, at them and our hearts ache for them as they deal with bullying and everyday obstacles that come with any illness.

I loved this story and enjoyed the journey of Dylan Mint. He's a character I won't soon forget. You guys have to read it! I was LOL'ing all over the place!
Profile Image for Stephen.
1,800 reviews296 followers
July 14, 2020
dark humorous novel about Dylan Mint who has Tourette's and he think he is dying and comes with things to do before he dies in March. the author tries to make it humorous and funny but also showing a serious side as well.
Profile Image for Sarah.
3,343 reviews1,015 followers
June 18, 2014
I wanted to read When Mr. Dog Bites from the moment I heard about it, I couldn't wait to read about a main character who suffered with Tourette's syndrome because it's a condition I know so very little about. I absolutely loved getting inside Dylan's head and seeing first hand what it is like to live with Tourette's.

Dylan is a great character and in most ways he is just a normal sixteen year old teen, he likes hanging out with his best mate Amir and he can't wait to get a girlfriend and have sex for the first time, but he also struggles with anxiety and his nerves tend to show in the form of tics, cursing or even growling noises. The more he tries to suppress his symptoms the stronger the outbursts usually end up being and he's learnt that in most cases it's easier to just let go and accept what is happening. He has developed routines and coping methods to try and reduce the occurrences but they have by no means been eliminated.

I absolutely adored Dylan, he is such a sweetheart and I love him like a younger brother, in fact, if he was real I think I'd want to adopt him! He is one of my favourite characters of the year and that's high praise when I've read well over 100 books already. I enjoyed his friendship with Amir and how realistic their school life was, things weren't easy for them but they were always there for each other. Going to a special school means facing prejudices from the rest of the world along with coping with all the other issues that any other school child comes across. We also get to see a lot of Dylan's family life, coping with an absent father who is away in the army while his mum struggles to make ends meet and then there is the issue of Dylan's impending death to worry about. His "cack it list" was hilarious and the way he goes about achieving his goals adds a lot of humour to the story.

I love that Brian Conagham tackled so many difficult subjects - everything from disabilities, racism, bullying, family issues and just generally growing up - but he did it with humour and sensitivity. This book is jam packed with swearing and slang so if you're easily offended then it's definitely one that should be avoided. However if you're willing to go into it with an open mind, if you can remember what it was like to actually be a teenager and if you want a book that is realistic, honest and 100% true to life then you will adore When Mr. Dog Bites.
Profile Image for Becca.
88 reviews16 followers
December 24, 2015
Ok wow. I won this book in a giveaway (thanks!) so didnt really know that much about it apart from the synopsis.
So it's basically from the point of view of Dylan Mint who is a 16 year old who has tourettes, this means he has to go to a special needs school which is where we meet many other secondary characters such as Amir - his best friend - and his teachers etc. Since it was written in his point of view the world was seen so innocently and completely positively which is why I absolutely loved this book. It is also based in Scotland so the characters are supposed to be Scottist (i'm sure there were references to that in the book nt 100% though).

After an appointment at the doctors, Dylan overhears the doctor and realises that he's going to die in a few months, so creates a small list of things to do before he 'cacks it' which are; to go out with the most beautiful girl (in Dylans opinion) in school, get his friend a new best bug & get his dad back before you.. know what.. happens, or along the lines of that.

This really is a story about life, death, sex and swearing. I really felt for the characters, you could tell Dylan loved his mother and that she loved him; it isn't that often that book characters get on with their mothers because of a ~disfuctional~ family but I though the Dylan's mum was written so nicely into this.

There are a couple of twists and reveals in this book, most of them I guessed from the beginning but fist-bumped the air when it revealed I was right. The writer manages to keep you reading throughout the whole book and I honestly didn't want to stop reading about Dylan.. I don't want to give anything away but if you think a book about someone with tourettes sounds interesting IT IS so give it a go!

One problem I had at the beginning of the book was the use of slang words, I took a while to get used to this and then I got used to the style because that's how Dylans brain works, right? So after that I HAVE to give this book 5/5 stars. I don't know if i would have wanted to read this book if I hadn't of won a giveaway and i'd never heard of this writer before but it just goes to show you!

When this comes out I will definately reccommend this book, and I'm going to read it again myself.

Profile Image for Rizal.
152 reviews24 followers
August 7, 2015
Dylan, 16 who are diagnosed with Tourette Syndrome, overheard from a doctor that he gonna die in March. In order for him to live his remaining life to the fullest, he make up a list with 3 wishes 'Cool things to do before I cack it' which are having sex with a girl in his 'special' school, Michelle Malloy, to make his best buddy, Amir happy and live his life without anyone calling him names and such and lastly, get his dad out of war and be with him.

Throughout this whole journey in this book, it was filled with filthy and raunchy words, like REALLY filthy and raunchy. Well, what other 16 years old would says nowadays (I know I was, yikes!). Anyways, Dylan is teenage boy who can't hold back on what he says because of his condition. Dylan refers his condition in a form of a dog, Mr. Dog (title explained). Every time he gets nervous or in a pressure situation he will have tics or involuntary action throughout what he speaks and most of all the time he will curse, growl and shout whatever in his mind at that time. They are very very sensitive and crazy (for me) especially when he call his mom/peers the 'b' and 'c' words. I was quite offended at first but then again I need to explain myself that this is what it's all about. Involuntary action. I know that Dylan are not meant what he said and such when the tics come because he can't help it but when it comes to Dylan himself, without the 'syndrome moment'. I can see himself as a very horny, very childish and very keen on using cursive words. (Okay, I just explained myself what 16 years old are) Although, he can be pain in bumbum sometimes, I still adore him and can understand a bit in what he have been through with his life and family issue.

Age wise. Dylan are 16 years old teenage boy but for the entire time I read this book I couldn't help myself imagining that Dylan was 12 or 14 because on how immature-ish he acts and talks to his peers and his mother (but perhaps it was due to his syndrome wise and such). When I read it and imagining a 16 years old speaks with that words, it just didn't connect. Hmm.

What I like about this book besides the issue that tackles on Tourette Syndrome is that this book 'speaks' quite diversely. Amir, who are Dylan's closest buddy is a Pakistani teenage boy. There are bits here and there on how the author pointed out how society in this book reacts to certain minorities by having a supporting character alongside with the main character deals with racism and prejudice in their daily life. Dylan always stood up for Amir when he get teased or bullied just because of his skin colour and he always defending his friendship with Amir despite on what other kids thinks of him. It really is heartwarming.

Dylan only lives with his mother while his dad is in war camp. Dylan often writes letters to his dad and it will be sent by his mother. Dylan felt it is vital for him to get in touch with his dad in order for him to get his father back from war before he die but his father never replies to him. Later on, his mother get in touch with her former lover, Tony via Facebook and they bonded up. Dylan feels threaten by Tony as he always parked in his Dad spot and sit in his dad chair. Slowly, Dylan accepting Tony as they both share a bit interests in reading material and quizzes. It revealed later that his dad is not in a war camp but he is actually in prison due to his misbehaviour and that explained why the letters never get written back and why his mother starts hanging out with Tony.

The big reveal. This book strongly suggest that Dylan will be dead in March and to my surprise, he won't. What Dylan overheard and assumed previously was not about him but its actually about his mother. He misheard what the doctor said when he said it was due in March, and what the doctor meant at that time was that his mother will have a twin babies.
(As much as I am very glad and happy that Dylan are not gonna die, I am not that satisfied with the news because through all the time I read this I have set in my mind that Dylan will die because of his disease. The twist makes me feel cheated and what I read before was based on 'lie', or in this case 'misheard'.)

Despite on the twist/reveal part, the ending for this book was actually good and I am quite happy with it. Because although he will not be dead but all his parting wishes were granted (well most of them) as his best friend, Amir is happy with Priya (his gf), Dylan finally 'be' with Michelle, he had a closure with his dad and have an actual/proper family with Tony and his mom.

This book speaks volume about Tourette Syndrome, racism, bullying and family matters. Also, slurs. Lots of slurs. I truly like this book but not so much in the twist/reveal part.

This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Katy Kelly.
2,130 reviews76 followers
March 12, 2014
I really enjoyed reading this, but had a few problems with it as I went along.

After The Shock of the Fall (schizophrenia), The Rosie Project (Aspergers'), and various others, we now have a protagonist with Tourette's Syndrome. Dylan Mint is sixteen, attends a special school in Scotland and misses his dad, away on a secret mission with the army in Afghanistan.

Early on we see that Dylan doesn't always see things as everyone else does. An appointment with a doctor leaves Dylan believing he only has months to live, so he makes a bucket list of things he wants to do before the end, including finding a new best friend for Amir and bringing his dad home. He also pursues the girl of his dreams, Michelle Malloy, who also attends the special school with Dylan and Amir, doing his best not to let his Tourettes' get in his way.

It's very, very funny. Dylan has a way with words, his friendship with Amir is so true and touching, his letters to his dad moving. We begin to see that Dylan isn't fully understanding things when his mum's taxi driver friend Toby begins parking at their house regularly. As readers, we know more than Dylan.

It's the Tourettes that annoyed me a little. Swearing is the symptom that is rarest, and that's what Dylan has. It only seems to affect him at times of great stress (chatting up Michelle, arguing with his mum) and though it can make people blurt out relevant (rude) comments, it ALWAYS seems to in Dylan's case, nothing random. Which to me didn't seem realistic.

Dylan's reaction to things felt strange sometimes - while he gets sweaty over Michelle like any tongue-tied teenager, he barely reacts to the news he will die or some huge revelations from his mum. It made a likeable character a little too cold.

I also thought the epilogue didn't hit the right note, it left a bitter taste in my mouth. Up to that point I'd enjoyed the story on the whole. I'd have edited it slightly.

But overall an insight into special schools and Tourettes, lots of humour and witty use of language and a memorable lead in Dylan.
Profile Image for Caroline.
424 reviews5 followers
March 31, 2015
When Mr Dog Bites is a challenging read because the very first thing you notice, even on the cover, is the bad language. And this has put some people off and some people have felt that they don't want to let their Carnegie shadowers read it. And at first I was startled and upset by the language - the racist language in particular. And then I began to see the protagonist, Dylan Mint, properly. What you come to realise that Dylan has Tourettes, and the language that comes out of his mouth - but mostly runs through his head - is involuntary. What is more, Dylan absolutely hates the fact that it does - he is a gentle and sensitive boy who is trying to get his first girlfriend. But how can he, when every time he tries to talk to her these words come out of his mouth? His best friend Amir is racially abused by other boys in the school - nasty racist bullying; yet when Dylan says these words sometimes Amir ignores him as he knows they do not come from Dylan's heart. And this is the crux of the story. We need also to see Dylan behind the smokescreen of his language; to see the real boy who is desperate to be heard and known for who he is rather than what you hear. And when you see the real Dylan you find a lovely boy, and the language is just something that happens to him, not who he is at all. A powerful book speaking about the nature of disability and the importance of seeing the real person inside. You will need to choose the readers you give the book to, but you should still stock it on your shelves.
Profile Image for Leilah Skelton.
152 reviews38 followers
February 17, 2014
I have never been so conflicted whilst writing a review for a book. There was a single moment early on (page 22) with a casual comment about a character making a sound like ‘a cat being gang-raped by some dingoes’ and I balked. I was expecting language, of course, but flippant use of rape as a descriptor for a noise really threw me off course with this novel, and whether or not this is ‘how teens talk these days’, it just didn’t sit right with the protagonist’s ‘a-mayonnaising’, younger-than-his-years portrayal.

I likened it recently to drinking a glass of orange juice, but having a toothpaste moment after just one sip. I was maybe far too sensitive to it, but it coloured the experience of the whole book for me thereafter. To be true to my experience, I should rate at 2 stars, but I know that a million other people would breeze past those words and thoroughly enjoy the whole glass of orange. I think this would have been an easy 4-star had that descriptor not passed the editor’s red pen, so I’m awarding 3 to be as fair as possible.

There were lots of moments of humour and angst done incredibly well, and I think that the portrayal of Dylan’s condition was masterful. I liked the clever use of font size changes for emphasis – stylistically, it worked really well to enhance the novel. I just can’t help thinking that one small change would have made all the difference to my enjoyment of this book.
Profile Image for Wren.
567 reviews7 followers
May 29, 2014
Although this was a very quick read, I struggled with it.

I've never read a book about Tourettes, so this is what piqued my interest to begin with. But, once I started reading, it became apparent to me that there was no clear audience group. You see, parts were very juvenile, whereas others were very adult. I get that teenagers are growing up far too fast these days, but the two types of narrative didn't mesh.

The language also irritated me. Okay, so I am not a sixteen year old Scottish teenager, but I have four teenage nieces and nephews, none of which sound like the characters in this story. Without meaning to offend anyone, as that is NOT my intention, I just didn't believe the language or dialect. Yes, this story centralised itself with teenagers with an unfortunate array of disabilities, whether it be physical or mental, but I just cringed throughout the book. It just felt like the author tried too hard to be relevant, and it just ended up sounding cheesy.

However, I do not have any experience of dealing with or knowing someone with similar disabilities, therefore my understanding may be completely wrong. I do not mean any offence, I just think my struggle with the writing style hindered my enjoyment.

But, I will say that I admire the stance this book took against challenging racism, social acceptance of disabilities and individuality, and then combined this with the typical teenage issues.
683 reviews80 followers
April 15, 2019
Im so disappointed.

I love YA books that inform about different diseases, syndroms or just life different than mine.
This was supposed to be that. Yes, I did learn some about Tourette's but mostly it was just plain weird and pointless and confusing. Felt like I was reading while being drunk.

Profile Image for Liviania.
957 reviews64 followers
June 12, 2014
Scottish author Brian Conaghan draws on his own experience with Tourette's Syndrome to tell the story of Dylan Mint, who has Tourette's and is convince he's going to die in March. He's inspired to create a list of things to do before he dies, but it also makes it harder for him to keep a leash on "Mr. Dog" as well as his own behavior.

Dylan might be sixteen, and sex with Michelle Malloy might be the top thing on his list, but he's almost painfully naive. His innocence makes it easier to sympathize with him when he's being difficult, for instance when he's biting back at his mother for disciplining him. It's also sweet when he's defending his best friend Amir, despite not comprehending some of the racism leveled against him.

The language of WHEN MR. DOG BITES is involving, because it relies heavily on Scottish, rhyming, and other slangs. Dylan loves playing with words, and it is interesting to fall into the rhythm of his thoughts. Given that he has Tourette's, some of that language is strong, but it's less intrusive than I expected when I started reading.

I wasn't in love with WHEN MR. DOG BITES. I enjoyed the diversity of the characters and the use of language. But I felt the plot relied too strongly on Dylan being utterly guileless. I never quite believed that he was sixteen. Fourteen, maybe.
Profile Image for Kirsty .
3,476 reviews328 followers
June 13, 2015
I must admit I had been looking forward to this book for a while particularly because author Phil Earle raved about it on twitter a while back and I am so pleased to say it didn't disappoint.

When Mr Dog bites is the story of Dylan a teenager with Tourettes. What I loved about it is how it got me into his head and enabled me to understand a bit more what it must be like for anyone living with the condition. Be warned it doesn't hold back in its language and so I probably wouldn't recommend it for younger teens but it is absolutely perfect for older teens.

I loved Dylan and the way he saw the world. I loved that underneath that shouty exterior once you got to know him a bit better you could see he had brilliant morals and a real heart of gold and I think for me it made me think about the way people like Dylan with invisible disabilities are labelled within society wrongly by people's assumptions.

I loved the messages it had about racism and about family and was utterly hooked to find out where the story was going and what was going to happen next.

An utterly fascinating and engrossing read. I can't recommend it highly enough
Profile Image for Jackie.
Author 2 books10 followers
August 25, 2014
This is a humorous tale for older teens and young adults who don't mind the strong language as main character, Dylan, has Tourette's. Dylan is also a big hearted soul navigating an unsteady course through 'special school' and his 16th year. He's just found out he's going to die next March thanks to a hushed conversation between his mother and the doctor during a routine check. Determined not to be beaten by the mere prospect of death, he hatches up a bucket list and in his attempts to achieve his must-do's, faces ridicule and some harsh reality. It's a touching, unusual read. Even though the twist in the tale wasn't a great surprise to me, I still had to rush to the end to see how loveable Dylan would fare.
Profile Image for Laura.
775 reviews38 followers
April 30, 2017
This book was very insightful of living with Torrette Syndrome and it was woven into the story very well. Great disability representation of which we need to see more of. However, narration was confusing at times and the plot sluggish. I couldn't believe the reveal, I just needed to see more of it!

#diversitybingo2017 - Neuro-diverse main character (own voices)
Profile Image for Tereeeza.
259 reviews43 followers
October 16, 2016
Tourettův syndrom se v knížkách nijak hojně nevyskytuje, a protože mě baví číst podobně laděné příběhy a tenhle opravdu přináší zase něco trochu jiného, neváhala jsem. Knížka se čte sama a děj plyne, neubírá mu ani to, že některé věci odhadnete trochu dopředu. Více podobných témat.
Profile Image for Lisbeth.
117 reviews6 followers
April 25, 2015
This was just the sweetest story ever about being young and innocent. An how insane the world can be, when you are also struggeling with mental illness. Just adorable!
1 review
May 18, 2018
Tourette’s Syndrome. A neurological disorder characterized by involuntary tics and vocalizations and often the compulsive utterance of obscenities. A study has found that 1 of every 360 children suffer the Tourette’s syndrome. I read the book When Mr. Dog Bites, a book relating to the disorder. The book revolves around the main character, Dylan Mint, who suffers this disorder to a very severe degree. I will be discussing this book and why I gave this book 4 stars.

First off, let's start off with the basic information. This book is a realistic fiction book written by Brian Conaghan. He was born and raised in Dublin. Other books written by him will include The Boy Who Made it Rain, The Bombs That Brought Us Together, and We Come Apart. He was nominated for a Carnegie Medal. The genres of books that he focuses on is fiction. The types of books he will write varies but his demographic is to young adults. The genre of the book is realistic fiction. I believe that this book was made for more mature audiences. The language and the themes are for teens versus younger audiences but that only makes the book more enjoyable.

Another important piece of the basic information is that the style is in first person. You follow Dylan Mint around as if he was telling you his story. The story does contain letters to his father. It’s a mix of letters and text but most of the book is in 1st person. This book is definitely for people who are 17 years old at least, so proceed with caution. They say words that are definitely more for people who are on the older side or more mature. This also includes mature themes and some harsh topics that may not sit well with everyone.

Let’s talk about the main characters. I personally feel that the main characters are: Dylan, Amir and Dylan’s Mother. Dylan is a lot like your average teenage boy. He is rebellious and very sexual. He also has traits that sort of differ from the stereotype of the average teen, such as his enthusiasm for his favorite show, soup and his love for the people he cares for. An example of someone who Dylan cares about a lot is Amir. Amir is Dylan’s best friend. Amir has autism and is from Pakistan. This makes Amir the target for bullying, which shows different aspects of not only Amir’s personality but as Dylan’s as well. The last main character is Dylan’s mother. Dylan’s mother is a very strong and powerful woman. She has to face raising a son who is slowly dying while her husband is fighting a war. The mother is at times unstable but this only makes the character more likable.

The final point that I want to bring up is the reason for this book to even exist. The theme is that we will not have forever. Our time will one day run out one day and there’s nothing we can do about it. We should make the most out of the time we have. The purpose of the book is also to bring awareness to the Tourette’s disease. It also reminds that life is too short. We have to live everyday like it’s our last. We must respect our parents as well, Please be nice to your mother.

In conclusion, I would rate this book 4 stars. We have a beautiful and unique storyline with often common characters in different situations. If you ever have the time to read this book then I would highly encourage you to do so. It’s a fun book that can be heartbreaking at times. The book is sort of like life, it can be fun and painful but it’s definitely worth it.
Profile Image for Live  Dalen.
1 review
January 14, 2019
When Mr. Dog bites
By Brian Conaghan

“I wanted to be in the waiting room again. I wanted to be with the people gawking at me. I wanted mum to give all her crying to me so she wouldn't feel so bad. I WANTED TO KNOW WHAT WAS WRONG. After a while the doctor tells mom something. ‘And come march life as he knows it will come to an abrupt end. You need to prepare him for the inevitable.’ ’’

I connect to the book because I really care about my brothers, and in this book, Dylan Mint’s mom is caring a lot about Dylan. I think these two ideas connect because they love and care about their family, and I also love and care about my family and friends.

The main characters are Dylan Mint and his mom. Dylan fights through his disease, tourettes to do everything on his to-do list before he dies. He starts swearing for no reason. Dylan thinks that his dad is in the military and sends letters to him often.

The plot of this book is when Dylan Mint finds out he is going to die in march. At first, he was very confused and didn't know what her mom and the doctor was talking about. I think this was also one of my favorite parts, until I read the whole book. I think that this is one of the two most exciting parts that happens in this book.

I would recommend this book for anyone who likes that things happen fast. In this book, the things happens so fast so you almost forget it at once. I would also recommend this book to anyone who likes a little bit of action, but not too much and also to people who likes a book about life, death, love and swearing. Be patient and you will find this book very exciting to read.
Profile Image for Anna Janelle.
155 reviews36 followers
July 24, 2014
"We kicked stones around for awhile in silence, which was Daddy Cool, because the one thing that's different between best buds and stupid acquaintances is that it's fine and dandy to boot stones around in silence with your best bud, but with acquaintances you have to think of rubbish things to say all the time in case they think you're dead boring, or a mongo. My new shoes were scuffed and scuzzy as well. I didn't care, though, because I was happy as a pig in piss that two buds were kicking some stones around in silence. That's what life's all about.
More silence.
More kicking.
Even more silence.
Then some more kicking."

This book delivers up one of my favorite types of characters - a damaged, misunderstood, precocious, super quirky teen with a hilarious outlook on life. (See also: books like Matt Greene's Ostrich and Sue Townsend's Adrian Mole series). This one offers up a fair helping of dysfunction a la Mark Haddon's Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, as our protagionist, 16 year old Dylan, suffers from a fairly fucking vicious affliction - Tourette's. SLUT BITCH MOTHERHUMPER *growl, tic, spit, BARK BARK BARK* Dylan is a sweet, fairly naive boy who loves his momma and his best bud, a racially-discriminated Pakistani with Asperger's named Amir. Together, they attend a high school with other "special" students who wet themselves, have epic meltdowns, scream at each other and... of course, bully one another. Because, if its one thing I've learned, it's that kids are equal opportunity assholes to one another. Nasty predatory little bastards regardless of social functioning index or IQ.

Upon visiting a doctor's office, poor, foul-mouthed, momma's boy Dylan overhears a conversation that leads him to believe that he is dying of a incurable, terminal illness that will leave him dead by March. Naturally, he immediately creates a bucket list, and he elicits the help of his best friend Amir in carrying out his final requests. On it, he hopes to woo and do Michelle, a fellow school mate, who has a wonky leg and a raging care of Opposition Defiance Disorder. He also sets out to try and help his best friend Amir stand up to the unfounded criticism and racial slurs he faces on a daily basis at school. Lastly, Dylan wants his good, old dad to return home...from an undisclosed military mission... where he is forced into complete radio silence with his family... despite the number of letter's Dylan has posted to him there. (Sounds fishy, right? Yeah. This story line was the least interesting to me, as I reader, because I felt it "the big reveal" be so obvious to the reader that it was insulting to Dylan's character to assume he suspected nothing was amiss. Yes, I realize he's a bit slow, a bit too trusting... but really? Perhaps I'm treading into spoiler territory, so I'll stop. I just found this revelation to be the most uninspired or ingenuine of the other storylines.

But I digress. Despite the obvious (overdone or trite) daddy issues, I really LOVED this book and FELL IN LOVE with its characters. I don't think I've added that the book is set in Scotland and has a charming bit of regional dialect paired with Dylan's wacky way of talking. And, I mentioned the bullying, asshole kids which threw me back to a recent read - Native Pittsburgher Anthony Breznican's Brutal Youth. In my review, I discussed the horrors of wearing inappropriate footwear at the beginning of the new school year. Lo and behold, Dylan IS that kid with the K-Mart shoes:

"See, I was one of those cats who began a new school year decked head to toe in new gear. I never understood why, though, because I liked the last set of clothes I had. I think it was just to show that we weren't really, really poor and didn't have leather carpets or empty kitchen cupboards. But it was bottom-of-the barrel cheapo clobber whichever way you looked at it. My new clothes told me that we were a teenyweeny bit poor. Not as poor as the mega-poor kids, though, the ones with a bad odor off them, the borderline mingers - they've got zilch. Their pot to piss in has a hole in it. They never have new bags or shirts or shoes or anything. In's a sin. I feel heart-sorry for them."

HEART-SORRY. Sigh. Me, too, Dylan. Me, too.

Many, many thanks to NetGalley for the opportunity to read a galley of this most excellent book. I was going to rate the book at 3, but as I was writing this review, I really got jazzed up about it again. I think I fell in love a little bit. So, 4 stars it is. Its been a few days between my reading and review-writing, and when a book can elicit a strong emotional hold on your memory after you've read some other books in-between, you know you've got an exceptionally good one. Why not 5? The whole dad bit. I mean, Dylan's letters to his dad allowed the readers a direct window into his character's soul...BUUUUUTTTTT, my good-old, buddy Adrian Mole accomplished that in diary entries (which was, for me, a better and comparable way to accomplish the same vulnerability and voice). I don't know why I felt such an aversion to the dad's (non)presence in the book. I just thought it painfully obvious from the jump. Then again, Dylan isn't the most observant (or accurate) participant in his own life - as you'll find out when you read the book ;)
Profile Image for Emma.
4 reviews
July 29, 2022
Honestly wasn’t very interested in this at first. The style and casual slurs were difficult to enjoy, let alone understand. But once we got about halfway through the book things picked up and I actually ended up liking it! Satisfying ending, nice mix of serious + sweet themes, and good characters 😊
Profile Image for Bonnie Cooper.
24 reviews
February 16, 2022
i really liked this book, i didn’t think i would like it just because i’ve never read anything like it but actually it was really interesting to read. It’s a different genre but i learned what people with Tourette’s have to go through everyday. 💕
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