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Good Dog

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Brodie didn't remember the exact moment that he died. But he did remember the exact moment that he woke up afterward. When he woke up he was already running.

In his awe-inspiring new novel, acclaimed author Dan Gemeinhart brings his signature blend of action, heart, and beautiful, deliberate prose to the story of a good dog who can't move on to the afterlife until the boy he loves is safe.

304 pages, Hardcover

First published March 27, 2018

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Dan Gemeinhart

12 books1,217 followers

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5 stars
674 (43%)
4 stars
490 (31%)
3 stars
292 (18%)
2 stars
83 (5%)
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23 (1%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 347 reviews
Profile Image for Lorie Barber.
557 reviews36 followers
December 31, 2017
I ended my 2017 reading year with this book. And I could not have lucked out with a better one.

Brodie is a dog - a very good dog - who has died. Rather than let go and move on to Forever, Brodie chooses to return to our world to save Aidan, his boy, from danger. What entails is an adventure so unique that I couldn’t put this book down.

Good Dog is BEAUTIFUL. An omniscient narrator tells the story, occasionally breaking from his POV to address the reader, which connected me to Brodie and Aidan more and more. The flashbacks Brodie experienced as memories of his past with Aidan came flooding back were vivid, sometimes excruciating, and always intentional in ways that kept me guessing. Gemeinhart’s use of imagery only added to that vividness. (There is so much here that I could use to teach my students writing techniques!)

But the best part? Brodie’s VOICE. So singular, original, and pure, highlighting the bond between this dog and his boy. I fell in love with Brodie from the jump, laughing and crying as he worked to complete his quest. He is a character I will remember forever.

I will be buying multiple copies of this book when it arrives in late March, not only for my students, but for my friends and family, especially those who have lost loved ones. This book is, in my opinion, one for the middle-grade ages, teaching kids that heroism is a choice that can come in any form.
Profile Image for Clare Snow.
906 reviews96 followers
July 22, 2018
CW: domestic violence, dog fighting
"Tuck's tail was all wag."

Dan Gemeinhart knows dogs. I loved this story for how true to life a dog's thoughts could be. I hated the dog fighting. The violence of that and Aidan's father are horrific. I found both very difficult to read. A middle schooler experiencing family violence might be helped by this story, but I'm not sure most middle schoolers would enjoy those aspects -particularly the graphic dog fights.

I loved that the gentlest dog was a pitbull and the most ferocious a golden retriever. Very true to life - just like people, a dog becomes how they are treated.

And Patsy the mangey cat - she's the best!
"But shine, it's not the same as heart. They had more shimmer, but Brodie, even then at the end, still had more of everything that mattered."

The narration by Lincoln Hoppe is superb.
Profile Image for Cassie Thomas.
442 reviews16 followers
September 15, 2017
Heart wrenching. But what a beautiful take on man's best friend and the role your dog truly plays in your life. Told from Brodie's perspective, you follow Brodie along as he comes back from the after life to still be there for his boy, all while he has dark demon dogs after his soul, and a friend who would do anything to help Brodie check on his boy. Brodie goes through betrayal, reality, and strength to find his way to ensure that dying wasn't for nothing. Dan writes in a way that imprints your heart forever. Good Dog will be a story that I reflect on for days and years to come.
Profile Image for Sandy.
2,488 reviews58 followers
June 1, 2020
I’m working my way through Dan Gemeinhart’s books and when I saw the cover of this book, my initial thought was that this would be an emotional, sweet story yet the synopsis told me something different. Even after reading the synopsis, I wasn’t prepared for what I read.

This was an emotional story about the love between a dog named Brodie and his boy. I liked how Dan wrote the story from the dog’s point of view. Like many people, I always talk to animals like they understand every word I say, and in Good Dog, the animals converse like humans.

When Brodie awakens, words engulfed his mind. He knew precisely what each word meant, yet he sensed that something was missing. Brodie didn’t know where he was, but he felt that this place where he was, was perfect. This was a dog’s paradise. Sasha, another dog, explains to Brodie that he’s dead, that he used to have a life and knew people, and soon his memories would come and he would remember what his life was like before arriving there.

Brodie mind is soon flooded with words, memories and emotions as his previous life starts to come back to him. Suddenly, that emptiness that Brodie had been feeling is filled. A memory washes over Brodie and motivates him to leave his dog paradise and return to his boy.

Brodie is determined to return to his boy. To do so, he pays a price. Returning to the human world, I had a hard time believing that this is a children’s book. I liked the idea behind what happens but the details to make that happen, I thought were intense and alarming on a children’s level. Perhaps on a middle school or YA level, they would be okay but not on a children’s level.

I liked Brodie’s commitment to his boy and the friendships that he made. He had quite the journey. There were moments that I found myself laughing, on-edge, and then, I had tears at 4 am this morning, it was an emotional story. I enjoyed the author’s creativity and how the story ended. There were a couple parts in the story, I was reluctant to read every word. I skipped a few paragraphs.

I don’t think this is really a children’s book. The violent description of the dog fighting is why I’m not giving it 5 stars. The violence is rather descriptive for my taste in children’s book. I liked the idea of the story; it was very creative. Riding between 4- 4.5 stars on this one.

“All this stuff (room full of books, old toys, video game system). And the only thing the boy asked for was this picture of him and his dog.”
Profile Image for Kristen Picone.
14 reviews4 followers
January 22, 2018
I was torn between a 4.5 rating and a 5, but went with the 5 because Dan’s writing is exquisite. Told through an omniscient perspective (the narrator is actually revealed at the end), we meet Brodie, a dog who has just entered the “in between”. As Brodie begins to remember his life, he decides he must go back to keep his boy, Aidan, safe from the monster (his dad). Going back as a ghost has consequences, which may mean Brodie will never get to Forever. Determined to be a good dog and knowing his boy needs him, Brodie goes back to the world of the living, joined by Tuck, a loyal friend who needs to find peace before he can get to Forever. From there, the adventure begins; from looking for Aidan, meeting Patsy (a street smart ghost cat), seeing the monster again, running from the Hellhounds who are determined to steal Brodie and Tuck’s souls, and trying not to “go dark” before it’s too late, this is a book that I couldn’t put down.

For me, there were many intense moments. There were scenes that were disturbing to read, but Dan’s storytelling and writing kept me hanging on. This book deals with the topics of animal abuse, child abuse, and alcoholism.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Mary Thomas.
377 reviews12 followers
February 4, 2018
I am a huge Dan Gemeinhart fan so I was ecstatic to have he chance to preview Good Dog with #bookodyssey. Ultimately, this one missed the mark for me. The overall feel of the book is very dark, with many disturbing scenes and references to animal abuse and child abuse. I read the book quickly, but kept waiting for that special something. The world building and concept of dog afterlife was well
done and interesting, it just wasn’t for me as powerful as some of his other work. I will be interested to hear what students have to say about
This one!!
Profile Image for Ris Sasaki.
857 reviews157 followers
December 26, 2020
This was one of those disappointments when the premise sound amazing, but maybe I was just not the target audience for this book.
But maybe the main problem that I had with the story was not the cliche plot, but the bad writing style with the repetitive words and the "believe me" over and over again.
Profile Image for Patrick.
385 reviews
December 7, 2017
Loved it. Dan writes the best stories for middle grade readers. Look for this in March of 2018!!! Nothing better than a boy and his dog. Or in this case a dog and his boy! Amazing story!
Profile Image for Jan.
800 reviews25 followers
January 5, 2020
I'm going to be in the minority here since just about every review here has 4 or 5 stars. I really wanted to love this book, or at least like it a lot. I loved both The Honest Truth and Some Kind of Courage from this author. And I love dogs. I'm a total dog person. So a story about a dog who can't move on to the afterlife until the boy he loves is safe sounds like something I would love. But gosh this story is so dark, really, really dark. And violent. Instead of reading a lovely story about a faithful dog that would warm my heart and probably make me cry, I read one that was just plain scary and depressing. I honestly can't think of a single young person who I would recommend it to. It's way too sad and a pretty big downer.

Profile Image for Theresa Grissom.
802 reviews22 followers
February 16, 2018
Another winner by Dan Gemeinhart! The students at my school love his books and this will join their list of favorites. This book reads a bit older than his other books. I will save for 5th grade and older.
Profile Image for Linda Jackson.
Author 0 books71 followers
March 27, 2018
Dan Gemeinhart is an outstanding writer. I loved this cleverly crafted book which reminded me of the movie BOLT and the book THE HORSE AND HIS BOY by C.S. Lewis. I also thought the name "Tuck" for a dog who's been kind of hanging around in the "between" for quite a while was pretty cool too. I think this book will be a hit for kids who love books with heart and action.
Profile Image for Am.
370 reviews
January 22, 2019
"You don't have to have been a hero before to be one when you really need to. We can all be a hero anytime decide to be. Believe me.
Because a hero? A hero isn't a person. A hero is a choice."

This is my second Dan Gemeinhart book and this may have cemented him as an all time favorite author. I have the rest of his books on order.

Trigger warning: Child abuse, animal abuse, animal death and animal fighting
For children this is going to be along the lines for kids who read books like Where the Red Fern Grows and Old Yeller (Yes, I know, I'm dating myself). I don't object to this being a kids book. I think this should be in the upper middle grade ages but more importantly, I think this should be read by a child who has an adult who is willing to talk to them, hear out their feeling and help them work them out.
This book has a lot of important themes and life lessons. Not everyone is good and bad. Some people are morally grey and sometimes it takes someone being good to them to help with that. Sometimes there is bad in the world and we need to stand up to it. Sometimes all you can do is stand your ground. Loyalty. Friendship. Family. Sometimes family is who we choose not who we are blood related.
I loved this book. I would reccomend it to adults and children. For fans of Bruce Cameron. Just have a box of tissues ready. And, yes, I plan to reread this in the future.
Profile Image for Jake N.
19 reviews2 followers
June 1, 2018
This book killed me. I cried the whole time… And considering that I was listening to it that meant that I was crying while grocery shopping, cleaning, at the bank and trying to explain why everywhere that I went. I grew up with dogs and know the joy and love of having a special dog. Now as a father with a boy, and no dogs ... yet... I long to bring that same joy to him and the rest of our family.

Beware, this book may cause you to visit Humane Society’s looking for the “Brodie” you’ve been missing.
Profile Image for Anouk.
38 reviews
May 28, 2018
I found it a little annoying that at the end of/near the end of every important scene, there was a sort of awkward summary-like thing where the narrator started each or almost every paragraph by asking a bunch of small questions along the lines of, "And ___? (S)He ___" "But ____ (S)He ____". The first few times, it was okay, but when it started to become predictable, it got on my nerves. The ending was good though.
Profile Image for Terry Johnson.
Author 12 books328 followers
March 27, 2018
Great writing!
And any book that makes me want to go hug my dogs is a great book as far as I'm concerned.
May 20, 2019

Also Posted on For The Love of Fictional Worlds

Disclaimer: A physical copy was provided via Scholastic Indiain exchange for an honest review. The Thoughts, opinions & feelings expressed in the review are therefore, my own.

Trigger Warnings: Domestic Violence, Child Violence, Animal Abuse and Dog Fighting

Having a dog or cat own me is one of wildest and cherished dream of mine (and don’t tell anyone; I am getting close this fulfilling this dream of mine!) and I just knew I was going to fall in love with Good Dog, the moment I read the blurb of the book and I wasn’t wrong, in fact THIS WAS ONE OF THE MOST BEAUTIFUL HEART RENDERING NOVEL I HAVE READ IN A WHILE.

Well, considering the fact that I like animals more than I could ever hope to tolerate humans, this love for this book was sorta expected :D

Brodie is a good dog – a dog who died; but who instead of moving on to Forever; and even though he doesn’t remember anything about his life down on Earth, he knows one thing for certain – his human, Aidan, is in danger and he has to go back to protect him.

But here’s the catch; he won’t be going in physical form; but as a facsimile of his self, a spirit if you may. But does that deter our good dog; no it doesn’t! In fact, it makes him all the more determined to get down here; and protect his boy.

“Aiden. His Boy. The boy of wide – mouthed laughter, the boy of secret bedtime tears, the boy of fierce hugs and thrown balls and behind – the – ear scratches. The boy with the broken nose and the black eye who only wanted one thing: a picture of him and his dog.”

Slowly, but surely, Brodie started getting flashbacks of his life with Aidan; sometimes sweet; other times heart breaking but always full of love, faith and laughter – the connection that Brodie feels with Aidan is one of the MOST WONDERFUL and BEAUTIFUL part of this book.

I swear; if I wasn’t already inclined towards pets – I would be sold on the idea of a pet loving me with everything in him – the loyalty and trust that he showed for his boy; won me over, in the first chapter itself.

I promise you; this is a book that YOU WILL LOVE – whether you are a pet lover or not; because it has far reaching message than the bond between and animal and their human. It shows that our lives are not just the consequences of our decisions but also of our choices; easy or hard.

The writing style of the author is dazzling –
he catches your attention right from the start and doesn’t let you go till the end. It is raw, emotional and written simplistically enough to create the maximum impact.

READ THIS BOOK – trust it is one of those books; that deserve to be part of every reader’s bookshelf.

For more reviews visit For The Love of Fictional Worlds :)

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Profile Image for Marco.
202 reviews9 followers
February 24, 2020
Good Dog by Dan Gemienhart is a middle grade novel that follows the point of view of a dog named Brodie. He finds himself in this in-between world where dogs go after they die, and we follow him as a ghost as he goes back to the living world in order to save his past owner.

I’ve loved Dan Gemienhart’s middle grade novels so far, but this one was a dud for me. The plot overall is something I’m not a fan of. It reminds me of one of those formulaic sappy dog movies which I’m not a huge fan of. The writing and dialogue came off as extremely cheesy, and while Dan Gemienharts books d have a tendency to have this type of writing, I felt this even more in this book. I don’t know if it’s just a me thing, or if the writing was genuinely more cheesy in this book.

I did enjoy some of the concepts however. For example, since we follow the characters as ghosts, the author creates somewhat of a system on how souls work in this world. They’re able to walk through walls based on if they believe they can and I really enjoyed that aspect of the book, as well as the concept that their souls start to diminish the longer they’re in the living world.

I also thought the relationships between all the characters were really well done.

Overall, this a nice middle grade novel, but it wasn’t for me.

Also can we talk about how the author references his other book The Honest Truth in this book? I was high key surprised by what it implied in this book.
Profile Image for Kathleen Dixon.
3,496 reviews56 followers
October 4, 2018
I'm still not sure quite what I thought of this book. I'm writing this review a couple of weeks after finishing it (all sorts of things got in the way, etc.) and thinking about it again and my response is the same as the one I gave my boss (bookshop owner, and we often read the same books being as they are books we've just stocked and we need to know a bit about as many as we can) - "I'm not sure if I like it or not."

I wanted to know what happened all the way through so I read every page (unlike some, where I skim through, or read a few pages beginning, middle and end), so it does deserve 3 stars from me. I imagine a lot of kids would like this book - it has niceness, and scary things, people you don't know whether to trust or not, a great love between boy and dog, and a nice imagining of dog heaven. The plot has twists and turns as all good plots should, and the book has an interesting approach in that it speaks to the reader (not one of these gimmicky books that you get an app for and listen to parts, but I can't remember the word for when the author 'speaks' directly to the reader ... oh, just looked it up, it's narrative intrusion). Some like that, some don't.

So, I definitely liked this book and I'll definitely recommend it to shoppers. I just can't personally give it more than 3 stars.
Profile Image for Stef Rozitis.
1,418 reviews66 followers
March 14, 2022
Despite being so sentimental and written in a really precious way (that I think was supposed to mirror the patronising view humans have of dogs) I have to admit this kept drawing me in. Overall it's predictable how it's going to play out but that didn't stop me reading for it. At the same time I was very irritated by the constant question-answer style. Instead of saying "Tuck was a good dog" (which is superfluous in any case because this is a premise of the whole book that Tuck and Brodie are Good Dogs) it says "But Tuck? He was a good dog. Yes he was. Believe me." or something like that SEVERAL TIMES A CHAPTER.

I could tolerate it early on but there was just so much of it! The cat was a stereotypical tart-with-a-heart, and the DV perpetrator was conveniently "the monster". While I sympathise with the wish to other perpetrators, I do think that sort of portrayal stops society confronting the ways we construct those "monsters" but I guess I know this was a kids book. Still, that's what I mean by precious and sentimental. The spirituality in the book was a mix of complex but ultimately naive. There is an afterlife. I would have loved that aspect of it when I was younger and didn't mind it too much even now (as escapism).

All in all I think a lot of people would love this book. As I said I was drawn into some parts of it.
Profile Image for Paula.
785 reviews28 followers
January 11, 2018
I didn't think Dan Gemeinhart could possibly maintain his streak of "greatest hits" but GOOD DOG should have been called GREAT DOG! There are so many twists and turns and tears in this book that I hated having to put it down to go to work or sleep! Brodie was a dog. He died. But when he woke up he knew he had to go back somehow and save his boy, Aiden from "the monster" who happened to be his father. Trouble is, it isn't easy going back, he'd risk his soul if he failed. The living world is beautiful, but it is also ugly sometimes and Brodie gets a chance to see just how cruel it can be-especially when those you love are in trouble. Make sure you have some uninterrupted time and some tissues when you read this one. Comes out March 27th. (I'd pre-order!)
Profile Image for The Reading Countess.
1,728 reviews55 followers
January 15, 2018
Woot! Love this author, love reading his next one before it hits the shelves! I gobbled this in one night. One late school night well past midnight, a teary and bleary eyed Language Arts teacher voraciously turned page after page of what will surely be a classic take on a boy and his dog tale. Deep. Impactful. Heartbreaking. Levity thrown in at just the right times before a weepy reader loses all hope, be ready for the ending. Oh, that ending’s gonna bite you. Hard. But don’t worry. You’re surrounded by friends, loved ones and the sage words of those who came before you. How does #dangemeinhart churn out such uniquely individual books time after time? Big fan here. Huge. 👋🏻 Look for Good Dog on March 27.
Profile Image for Julie.
1,019 reviews17 followers
March 5, 2018
There is something about Dan’s writing that is so amazing. Is this story a bit dark at times? Yes, as is The Honest Truth, but I think this is an important story. Told from the perspective of a character whose identity is not revealed until the end of the book, it is the story of a dog living in a middle place between earth and afterlife who feels a need to get back to his boy because he knows/feels his boy needs him. Of course it is impossible to go back to the living when you have died and he faces many roadblocks as he tries to get back to his boy and be the good dog he knows he is. This is a story that will generate great discussion and thinking.
Profile Image for Daniel Reeves.
22 reviews3 followers
September 7, 2018
I knew full well what I was getting myself into. A book about a dead dog coming back to help his boy? Come on. You’re just asking for emotional anguish. And yes, yes I was. And damn, I am thankful for picking up this book.

For a book meant for middle grade readers, this book dealt with some very adult themes. I won’t go into spoiler territory but I have to give the author my thanks for touching on some very brave subject matter that is important for young people to know about. Books like this one can, and hopefully will, have an incredible impact in the lives of some of the young people who read it. And that just makes me so happy that it, and books like it, exists.

Good Dog is an inventive take on a boy-and-his-dog story. It has fistfuls of heart and (the brightest) soul.
Profile Image for Erin.
352 reviews9 followers
April 23, 2018
Gemeinhart is one of my favorite new(ish) authors, and I was so excited to read this book! Parts of this book I LOVED! And I ugly cried several times. This book is packed with dark themes - animal/child abuse, alcoholism, grief... I was a little taken aback by how depressing the story actually was.

Tuck's character was my favorite, but overall Brodie, Tuck, and Patsy felt too much like the characters in the The Incredible Journey. There were some distracting style choices that just didn't work for me either. This book? It could have been great. But instead, it was a little disappointing.
Profile Image for Dillon.
7 reviews
January 12, 2019
Dan Gemeinhart creates another great novel. In the fourth grade, I read The Honest Truth, which is one of the best books I have ever read. A year later I read Scar Island, another great Dan Gemienhart novel. So when I first bought this, I had high expectations. And this book was better then I ever imagined. The characters are likable and the story is deep and engaging. If you are a fan of dog books, Dan Gemeinhart or dramatic adventures, this is a book for you. This is a must read. I'd give it more stars if I could.
July 26, 2020
Brodie has died, and woken up in the world of the dead where they can run all day and live worry free. Who would want to leave such a perfect world? To Brodie everything isn't perfect, he keeps having a vague memory of a monster and his boy, who is in trouble. He doesn't know anything else except that he needs to go back and save his boy. Bodie knows the risks but he bends the rules and returns back anyway. Travelling as a soul into the land of the living is dangerous but Brodie will risk anything to protect his boy.

This book mainly follows three characters, Brodie, Tuck, and Patsy. Brodie is a loving dog who is willing to risk everything, even his life to save the people that he loves. Tuck is a care-free dog who enjoys nothing more than running, but he isn't quite ready to move forward as he still feels he has unfinished business. He might not be the brightest dog, but his compassion and empathy for others sure make up for it. Patsy is a sassy cat who doesn't feel attached to anyone, after a long life of abandonment. As her soul is slowly fading away she figures she has nothing better to do then to follow Brodie and Tuck on their adventure.

The book is an empowering story demonstrating just how far some are willing to go for love. You follow Brodie, Tuck, and Patsy’s unique personalities and touching stories as they all navigate as lost souls through the living world they no longer belong to. Throughout this book these characters grow on you and you will soon find yourself crying both happy and sad tears. I give this book five stars as it emotionally reached out to me and placed me in the shoes of the best dog I’ve ever seen. I would absolutely recommend this book to anybody looking for a heartfelt story that is almost impossible to place down, even for just a minute.

- Bronwyn, Grade 9
Profile Image for Julie.
1,385 reviews
April 1, 2018
Good Dog is full of heart and darkness.,I loved every page, and know this may be too dark for younger readers. Alcoholism, child and animal abuse are part of the plot. Loved the The Honest Truth connection. Mostly I adored Brodie and his never ending heart. Another winner!
June 10, 2018
My 6th and 7th graders will love this book! If I were still teaching in the classroom, I would be reading it to them. Gemeinhart's books are full of adventure and contain compassionate messages about life.
Profile Image for Steph.
4,356 reviews45 followers
July 26, 2018
So. Many. Tears.

I love this book.

- - - - -

“... the boy whose arms hugged with a fierceness that could burn away all your shivers and your trembles... who fought monsters away to keep you safe...”

“Do you know what my favorite thing in the whole world is?”
“This. This right here.”
Displaying 1 - 30 of 347 reviews

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