After 12-year-old Daisy dies in a car-crash, she is sent back to earth as a dog. Intent on finding her bereaved parents, Daisy has a series of canine adventures which earn her a new name—Ray—and provide her with Pip, a human ally. Pip’s own mother has recently died, and he has run away from social services to search for his unknown father. Ray and Pip’s stories unfold side by side and make for a page-turning read.
Narratives written from the point of view of an animal often present the reader with a challenge as they demand a substantial suspension of disbelief. There are several challenging moments here while we are asked to leap from Daisy’s death to her swift dog transition. Little space is given to trauma, grief and loss. Daisy hurtles into becoming Ray, and her ebullient dog energies rather erase our more realistic emotions. But if the reader can surmount this initial wobble, they are rewarded by a dynamic adventure, which ultimately immerses us in a totally believable dog world.
There is nothing saccharine here, Ray doesn’t get the happy ending Daisy and the reader have been hoping for—and this may be hard for some children to cope with—but the book’s conclusion is a real artistic achievement, a haunting and perfect end that makes The Dog, Ray a memorable and meaningful read.