In Raising Lumie, a grieving girl gets a new family and a dog-owning dream fulfilled.
Raising Lumie by Joan Bauer. Viking, 2020, 267 pages
Reading Level: Middle Grades, ages 8-10
Recommended for: ages 8-12 independently; 6-10 as a read-aloud
Olive lost her mom when she was just a baby. Now she’s lost her dad, the world’s best plumber, to cancer. The only good thing, or less-than-awful thing, is that Dad’s illness has brought Olive’s grownup half-sister into her life. Maudie takes over guardianship duties with grace and enthusiasm–but denies Olive’s deepest with for a dog. The timing isn’t right: the girls are moving to a new town, where Maudie has taken a new job, and in the boarding house where they’ll be living there’s no room for a dog.
On her first day at the new job, Maudie insists on taking little sis along, and there everything changes. Who could have guessed the job would come with puppies? They belong to a guard-dog training center nearby, here to be socialized. One beyond-cute yellow lab named Lumina (Lumie) stands out, and for Olive it’s love at first sight. This being a dog story, the feeling is mutual, and love wins out over doubtful landlords and hesitant sisters. Olive wins the job of training (“raising”) Lumie, but with the proviso that they will have to part once Lumie is raised. Having already suffered one great loss, will Olive be able to survive another?
The story is told from her point of view, as readers participate in the light and dark passages of her life. Grief is still very much a part of it, but Lumie helps her pick up the leash and start moving forward again. As with most Joan Bauer novels, the spotlight is on good people: honest tradesmen who take pride in a job well done, slightly crotchety neighbors, loyal siblings. The few stinkers who appear are dispatched a little too easily, but most readers will love “raising Lumie” right along with Olive, and may even want to look up volunteer opportunities at the nearest a guide dog center.
Overall Rating: 4 (out of 5)
- Worldview/moral value: 3.5
- Artistic/literary value: 4.25
Also at Redeemed Reader:
- Other novels by Joan Bauer: Soar, Close to Famous, and Rules of the Road.
- There’s no shortage of dog stories out there. See our reviews of The One and Only Bob, Fenway and Hattie, and Sled Dog School, just to name a few.
- This isn’t a sad dog story but, as Betsy writes, “They’re a Thing–and a Necessity.”
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