The Dog Ray by Linda Coggin is a short novel about a young girl being reincarnated as a dog. The story is simple and sweet. Surprisingly it manages to touch on some heavy topics even though it is short. It was a bit too young for me to truly enjoy but it was a refreshing read nonetheless.
Daisy is a twelve-year-old girl who dies suddenly in a car crash. She is sent to the afterlife, represented as a waiting room where she is just a soul. She must make a quick decision to accept her next life, when she doesn’t decide fast enough she misses her chance to be reincarnated as a human baby. Instead, she is rushed into the world as a new born puppy. In a small turn of fate that I almost completely missed, Daisy is asked to go through the door on the right to get to her next life which she does not. It is implied that because she went through the door on the left she can remember her old life. This is such a small inconsequential difference that it is easily missed, not exactly great to hinge your entire book on an easy to miss detail.
Daisy is back in the world as a dog with a plan. She wants to find her parents. The first leg of her journey turns out not great. She is adopted by a stuck up mother and a neglectful little boy. It is fairly obvious that the author has designed the characters who first adopt her to be unlikeable. I don’t love this type of obvious storytelling, they are bad people so that the reader roots for Daisy to leave them and continue her journey. The only purpose her first family serves is to connect her to a wonderful homeless man.
Eventually, Daisy meets Pip a young boy who is, unfortunately, homeless and in search of his father. Pip has a sad story, enduring the death of his mother and then the system. He has run away from his foster family to find a father who never knew he was born. Pip renames Daisy the dog to Ray. She follows him on a wonderful journey.
It was a touching story that briefly involved grief (although it was not the focus of the story), homelessness, and family. It was a simple novel, very easy reading, I would recommend it for ages 8 to 12. Nonetheless, it was a refreshing palette cleanser for me and I don’t regret picking it up. It serves as a great pick me up, good feel, one day read. Honestly, for a book that starts with a death, it is very happy.
Of course, because it was meant for an age group I am far outside of, there were some problems I had with it. The plot is predictable and obvious. There is no finesse to the writing. It has encouraged me to write though because if this book got published a lot of things have a good chance as well. Maybe even me. Also, there is a weird plot point where gradually Ray loses memory of her past life. Put this together with the flimsy excuse that made it so she could remember and there is an entire storyline that either should have been beefed up or completely scrapped.
Overall, I wouldn’t highly recommend the book but I’m not upset that I read it. At 190pgs it’s hardly a waste of time because it was so quick. It is definitely forgettable but I give credit to the effort to write something different.