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Almost Perfect

3.98  ·  Rating details ·  322 ratings  ·  97 reviews
An old woman who has given up hope and a boy who believes the impossible wonder if life would be perfect at the Westminster Dog Show.

Seventy-year old Bess Rutledge has dreamed of winning the Westminster Dog Show all her life. Despite her decades-long career as one of America’s top Standard Poodle breeders, she has decided she’s too old to hold on to her foolish dream. She
Paperback, 340 pages
Published January 29th 2014 by Beltor
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Average rating 3.98  · 
Rating details
 ·  322 ratings  ·  97 reviews

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May 04, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: animals-dogs, fiction
I would give this a 4.5. I was a lucky goodreads first reads winner of "Almost Perfect" I am a huge dog lover so I always am interested in reading a book that has dogs in the story. This is a neat one! I like those stories about "unlikely friendships" Bess is 70 lives with her twin sister Mona. Bess raises champion standard poodles. She is known through out the USA for her gorgeous award winning standard poodles. Bess meets Benny a teenage boy who has mild autism. He attends a school near Bess's ...more
Jan 10, 2015 rated it it was ok
My thanks to NetGalley and Beltor for an eARC copy of this book to read and review.

The biggest positive of this book is also my biggest negative. The author can write a teen with special needs very well. Unfortunately, Benny was way too annoying for me to be able to enjoy the book at all. I stopped at 45%, because things had moved so slowly by that point that I just didn't care how the characters all got to the (obvious) end of the book.

Not a bad book, just not a good book for me. If you like s
Jan 13, 2015 rated it really liked it
When I read the book summary about this book I thought it would be good. However I did not expect it to be this "good". I am so glad this book is one to be read. Share it with your friends and especially dog lover friends. They will enjoy this book and thank you for introducing them to it.

Bess and Benny are both wounded souls that found the true meaning of love and friendship. Although the rest of the characters in this story were just as good like Bess's sister and her son. In fact, no one seem
Jul 26, 2019 rated it really liked it
I was immediately completely sold when I read this paragraph in the first chapter:

"His dad wouldn't let him have a dog -- period! -- but especially not a poodle. His dad said poodles were sissy dogs, and his dad was right. He had a book with pictures of every kind of dog in the world and had already picked out his favorite: a brown and white beagle like Snoopy. He wouldn't mind a collie like Lassie either."

(At this point I knew that me and Benny would get along great in this story, since we
Jun 20, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: netgalley, 2015-reads
* I received this book as a free ebook from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review *

In the spirit of full disclosure I picked this book solely based on the fact that it had a picture of a really cute puppy on the cover. The puppy’s name is Breaker and he turns out to be, no surprise, an integral part of this story.

As a young woman Bess Rutledge established Umpawaug Kennels to breed show winning Poodles, now at 70-years-old she feels its time to close the doors. She just has to get through on
To be accepted for who they are by those around them for a young, mildly autistic boy and a seventy year-old woman becomes a wonderful tale of discovery and a journey of healing one’s soul in the process in Diane Daniels Manning’s Almost Perfect. Benny is a disturbed young boy from a dysfunctional family. He craves love from his divorced parents, a self-absorbed mother and a father who is disappointed that HIS dreams for Benny will never come true. Add to the mix, a step-mother who is also ill-p ...more
M.M. Hudson
Feb 15, 2014 rated it really liked it
There is no doubt that this book tells the tale of how dog shows are really like. The author is quick to point out that the book is fictional in nature but as she has shown dogs too, she can write the book as if it was a true account.

The character Bess is self absorbed and has shown dogs for years. Throughout the book she is shown to love her champion dogs more than she loved her own son. Her son over the years tried to please his mother and only into adulthood does he finally succeed. This stor
Feb 10, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: other
This was such a cute & sweet story. I loved how Manning told a story of families coming to know one another on a deeper level amidst the nerves and chaos of dog shows. I thoroughly enjoyed the fact that this novel didn`t race to the conclusion, as well as the fact that the conclusion wasn`t the one that I expected. The well-developed plot combined with Manning`s eloquent narrative & descriptions were a treat. Manning takes THE dog show and sets it as the backdrop for a fun, funny, and at times t ...more
Apr 28, 2014 rated it liked it
Review also found at

I received a copy of this book directly from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. Thank you.

This was a truly touching story. Take an autistic boy, an elderly woman who has unfinished dreams and add in some dogs the result is a story about learning about yourself and your capabilities. How Benny and Bess helped each other to change their current reality was magnificent.

The fact that this story centralizes around dogs touche
Brit McCarthy
Thank you to the author for providing this book in exchange for an honest review. This did not influence my review in any way.

Almost Perfect is the heart-warming story of a retired dog breeder named Bess, her mildly autistic teenage neighbour Benny and two beautiful Standard Poodles named McCreery and Breaker. Bess Rutledge, seventy years old and proclaiming her days of dog breeding and showing are over, has one last litter of puppies by her also ageing champion dog McCreery. He could have been
Mary Brown
Jul 15, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Almost Perfect by Diane Manning is a fantastic heartwarming book. It is not just a book about dogs, it is also a book about second chances, friendship, and not giving up your dream.

Bess is a 70 year old who has been breeding and showing poodles for most of her life. There is a long line of champions and many wins in her past, but the one thing she has never achieved is showing one of her dogs at Westminster. She feels she too old to continue breeding and showing her dogs, and she has to live wit
Oct 17, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Note: This ebook was provided by AuthorBuzz via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

I'm going to be very upfront--I'm a sucker for almost anything that has to do with dogs. I grew up in a family that's always had at least one dog and now I care for a few of my own (plus a couple of cats and some fish). My heart has a special spot for dogs and I tend to enjoy books, fiction or otherwise, that are about my favorite four-legged, furry friends. ^.^ When I saw "Almost Perfect" on NetGalley, I
Leslie Morgan
Jan 26, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Almost Perfect by Diane Daniels Manning had me drawn in from the initial tagline: An ADHD/Autistic boy takes a dog to Westminster and heals a family. First of all, isn't that sweet poodle on the cover the cutest? Second, as a speech-language pathologist who loves children and has a heart for helping children with diagnoses like ADHD and autism (even though I don't currently work with children.), I was hooked by the story presented.

I don't want to tell too much of the story because trust me, you
Sep 24, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: netgalley, ya-kid-lit
I am a "dog person" so the cover pulled me right in. Bess Rutledge breeds show dogs and has won many awards over the years, but she has never taken a dog to the Westminster Show. Now she has decided she is too old to continue running her Umpawaug Kennels, so she is selling off the last litter of puppies sired by her beloved dog, McCreery. But into her life comes Benny Neusner, a student at nearby New Hope School and also a neighbor. Benny falls in love with McCreery at first sight and winds up t ...more
Kathryn Svendsen
Benny wants a real dog. Not a poodle like the strange old lady next door raised at the now-closed Umpawaug Kennels. Not that it matters though because his dad and Sonya won't let him have any kind of dog anyway.

When Benny's mom doesn't pick him up again for their allotted time, Benny heads for home, but hears someone or something crying. Upon investigtation,he finds the strange old lady from next door in a shed (on her property) with a poodle waiting to have puppies. The old lady turns out to be
Nov 03, 2014 rated it it was amazing
A Warm & Moving Story!

This is a story about a young troubled boy in a special school who has a neighbor that breeds poodles.

Benny was outside exploring one day and found an old sign that said Kennels. He went to his neighbors home and discovered a dog there having puppies. Bess the owner was there with a dog her McCreery had studded and was waiting for the puppies to be born. Benny always wanted a dog, but not a dumb old poodle with funny hair cuts. After talking for a bit, Bess and Benny b
Jennifer Nowak
Sep 07, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: netgalley
I received a ARC of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. Thank you.

Diane Daniels Manning has written an unforgettable book that deals with real people, who have real issues they need to resolve.

Benny Neusner is a 14 year old boy who has autism and attends the New Hope School, which specializes in children with social and emotional problems. Benny lives with his father and stepmother, Sonya, and is supposed to see his mother Wednesdays after school and every other weekend.
Jul 19, 2014 rated it really liked it
I do believe some teens will want to read this book and will enjoy it. However, I think the most likely reader will be any age reader who loves dogs and just wants to read a good story. This is a case of mother/son relationships and as this story shows, the opportunity to finally get it right no matter your age.

Benny is middle school aged attending a school for special students. The school is on the Rutledge's property, a family consisting of two seventy-year-old twin sisters, Bess and Mona, an
Aug 04, 2014 rated it really liked it
I would like to thank the publisher for the opportunity to read an advance copy of this young adult book.

With that warm cuddly puppy on the cover, how could anyone not be drawn to this book? But this isn't just a warm fuzzy story. Despite the adorable cover, this book is so much more than puppy love.

Bess, a world famous dog breeder, has withdrawn from life as she faces a retirement filled with personal and professional regret. She harbors a secret that has kept her from fulfilling her life dream
Benny is a special needs child who lives with his father and step-mother. All he wants is for his dysfunctional mother to love him and spend time with him. He feels that if he does something ‘big’ with his life, his mother will love him more. And most of all, he has always wanted is a dog to call his own.

Bess is a seventy-year old who always dreamed of winning the Westminster Dog Show with her poodles. Deciding she is now too old to pursue that dream, she closes down her famous kennel. She sells
Aug 01, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: e-books
This is a wonderful novel about learning to so according to your abilities. Immediately you become attached to Bennie a teenage with emotion problems. Two things he wants are to make his mother proud of him and "real" dog. Neither are attainable. Benny lives with his Dad and stepmother. Bess is a senior citizen who has lived all.her life with breeding and showing dogs. David is her son who loves her and Mona is her twin. Dr Kate is Bennie therapist. McCreey and Breaker are standard poodles, Fath ...more
Sep 05, 2014 rated it really liked it
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Genre: Fiction

Age Recommendation: 10 and up

This book appealed to me because it was about dogs. I love dogs of any kind and think I would like any book about dogs.

This book was also an ARC, courtesy of NetGalley.

Almost Perfect

Benny is a teenager who goes to a therapeutic school. He has autism but it isn't that noticeable.

Benny has always wanted a dog. When his father marries another woman who is really rich, Benny thinks
Carla Johnson-Hicks
Oct 11, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: netgalley
A family drama where 3 different people are helped by dogs to develop a healthy family relationship. Bess has retired from raising and showing prize winning poodles. She has birthed a litter for a friend who is injured. The dogs were sired by her champion male McCreery. When Bess meets Benny, a troubled teenager, she just wants him to leave. He falls in love with McCreery and wants him. Bess tells him he can have one of the litter but he does not want that. Benny attends The New Hope school for ...more
Jan 04, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Quick Summary: Bess has decided that even though she has owned world-class dogs, she is no longer going to compete because she might make a mistake in the ring. Benny is a boy who has emotional problems because his parents fail to see reality, so he has no belief in himself.

What I liked: I totally connected with both Benny and Bess; the characters are well formed and very realistic. I liked that there were multiple connections between characters, creating a deeper story. I enjoyed the story abou
Momma Frugal
Apr 17, 2014 rated it really liked it
Almost Perfect......what a terrific title for a book! This was a very heartwarming story.

I've always been fascinated by dog competitions so that is one of the reasons I was looking forward to reading the book!

I appreciate that the author wrote the character of Benny has a child with autism!

The premsis of this book is simple, "An old woman who has given up hope and a boy who believes the impossible wonder if life would be perfect at the Westminister Dog Show".

"Disclosure of Material Connectio
Sep 02, 2014 rated it really liked it
Normally I'm a tough grader when it comes to book reviews. So why am I giving Almost Perfect, superficially a sentimental tear-jerker from and unknown writer, four stars? First of all, the subject. For the first few decades of my life, I had the same goal as Benny and Bess: to win at Westminster. My fantasy was nurtured by children's books like Big Red, The Dog in My Life, and the Green Poodles. Where are the books like that today? Second, Almost Perfect takes an unflinching look at two challeng ...more
I never liked poodles.. But after reading about Umpawug Poodles in this story about a 70 yr old woman named Bess and a teenager named Benny and how they connected, worked together, encouraged and changed each other's lives for the better because of Poodles...WoW. There is so much inspiration, and surprises in Almost Perfect, that it touched my heart. So now I'll give poodles a chance, a thought they were frilly and silly like Benny's father but I was wrong. I've always been an animal lover I hav ...more
Dec 19, 2014 rated it it was amazing
"Almost Perfect" is a heartwarming story about a boy name Benny who dreams of owning a dog and Bess, an older woman who has dreamed of showing one of her prized dogs at the Westminster Dog Show. A unlikely friendship forms between Benny and Bess over their love of their dogs Breaker and McCreery. "Almost Perfect" is a book about everyday people thinking they are too young or too old to live out their dreams. Diane Manning made me instantly fall in love with all of the characters, especially Benn ...more
Cindy Williams
Sep 14, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Thank you Netgalley and Diane Daniels Manning for give me the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review.

Definitely a feel good book. I just hummed along reading it, having a hard time putting it down to have to deal with life's interruptions.

You take an autistic child and a lonely old woman, both with hopes and dreams add a few puppies and what do you have? A wonderful story about reaching out and fulfilling your dreams. Doing as your heart desires and not listening to the n
Dec 19, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Almost Perfect is a beautifully written and heartfelt novel about finding and working for happiness. The story follows a wide cast of characters, but the heart of the story is about Bess, an aging woman who has started giving up on her dream of winning the Westminster Dog Show with the poodles she loves and raises, and Benny, a teenager with a dysfunctional family who dreams of owning a dog. Though Bess is planning on giving up her career of raising and showing poodles, circumstances lead to her ...more
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Diane Daniels Manning was raised in Redding, Connecticut, the setting for her novel ALMOST PERFECT. As a youngster, she rode her bike up and down former cow paths to the Mark Twain Library where she plundered the children's shelves and fantasized she'd grow up to a famous writer like Samuel Clemens.

Inevitably she was educated, taught English and reading in Connecticut, and earned a Ph.D. in Educat

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