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"Junkyard Dogs" Review: A Riveting Tale of Survival and Mystery

Welcome to my in-depth review of "Junkyard Dogs" by Katherine Higgs-Coulthard, a gripping novel that masterfully intertwines themes of family, survival, and mystery. This book takes readers on a suspense-filled journey with Josh, an unhoused teenager struggling to uncover the truth behind his father's disappearance while navigating a dangerous criminal underworld. Dive into the heart of this emotional rollercoaster and find out why it's a must-read. Plus, don't miss out on our exclusive book giveaway at the end of this review!


Book Junkyard Dogs by Katherine Higgs-Coulthard



Book Junkyard Dogs by Katherine Higgs-Coulthard

About the book:


Title: Junkyard Dogs

Author: Katherine Higgs-Coulthard

Publisher: Peachtree Teen

Pub. Date: February 21, 2023

Genre: Young Adult Contemporary, Mystery, Coming-of-age

Pages: 337

Formats: Audio, Hardcover, eBook, Paperback

Buy links: Amazon, Goodreads


Book Blurb:


Junkyard Dogs, described by Kirkus as "A mean-streets-style tale raw in language and feeling alike . . .visceral,"  is the suspenseful and gut-wrenching story of an unhoused teenager struggling to survive a criminal scrapping ring while unraveling a dark family history. Josh's father has gone missing without a trace, and Gran's ready to call social services. If Josh wants to keep himself and his little brother, Twig, out of the system, he'll have to take to the streets and track down his dad. But when Josh digs too deep, his dad's old accomplices catch up to Josh and plunge him into a dangerous underground where putting his trust in the wrong person could number Josh in a growing pile of bodies.


This chilling portrayal of a teen desperate for food, shelter, and safety barrels the reader through an emotionally-charged journey as Josh discovers that blood doesn't always make family—and some bonds can be broken forever.


“Higgs-Coulthard delivers a gritty, emotionally nuanced read about an unhoused teen searching for his absent father. . . . Utilizing atmospherically tense prose and layered, moving characterizations, this melancholy novel showcases one teen struggling to cultivate a better life for himself while navigating financial precarity and personal betrayal.”—Publishers Weekly


“Empathetic readers will root for Josh and Twig as both are three-dimensional characters who need caring adults to come to their aid. The ending provides a hopeful ending. . . . A smart purchase. . . .”—School Library Connection


“A visceral story. . . .”—Kirkus Reviews


“Junkyard Dogs” is a fascinating, fast-moving, completely compelling novel of mystery, abandonment, complex family dynamics, and hard choices.  Katherine Higgs-Coulthard has penned one of those stories the reader disappears into."Chris Crutcher, author of Loser’s Bracket


 

My Review

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐


"Junkyard Dogs," penned by Katherine Higgs-Coulthard, is not just a book—it's an emotional rollercoaster, a visceral journey through the bleak landscapes of struggle and the warm rays of hope. Described by Kirkus as a story "raw in language and feeling alike," this novel takes its readers on an uncompromisingly real adventure into the life of Josh, a homeless teenager who is thrust into the underbelly of a criminal scrapping ring while searching for his missing father.


From the outset, Higgs-Coulthard crafts her characters with a deft hand, ensuring they emerge from the page fully formed and profoundly human. Josh, along with his little brother Twig, becomes the heart of this tale, driving the narrative with his desperation and resolve. Each character, from the dispassionate grandmother to the complex figures of Josh's father and his associates, is portrayed with depth and nuance. Even Axl, the dog, is written with such affection and detail that he, too, becomes a crucial part of the storytelling fabric.


The plot itself unwinds around a mystery that captures the imagination and tugs at the heartstrings—Josh's father has disappeared, leaving behind a trail that leads deep into a dangerous scrapping ring. As Josh delves deeper, the stakes skyrocket, not just for him but for all involved. The narrative is steeped in suspense and tension, making "Junkyard Dogs" a page-turner in the truest sense.


What sets this book apart is its ability to weave thematic depth with its thrilling plot. It tackles heavy themes such as family, loyalty, and survival with a mature hand. The story does not shy away from showing the grim realities of its setting, yet it's imbued with a sense of hope and the possibility of redemption. Higgs-Coulthard's prose is crisp and evocative, capturing the starkness of Josh's world and the fleeting moments of joy.


The emotional core of the book resonates deeply, particularly in how it portrays its younger characters. Josh and Twig are not mere victims of their circumstances; they are fighters, striving against the odds with a bravery that inspires empathy and admiration. The adults in their lives are equally complex, depicted as flawed yet human, which adds a rich layer of realism to the narrative.


"Junkyard Dogs" is indeed a must-have for school libraries, as it offers young readers not only a gripping story but also important lessons about resilience, the value of questioning one's circumstances, and the power of hope. It is a testament to the idea that family isn't just about blood relations—it's also the bonds we choose to forge and maintain.


In conclusion, Katherine Higgs-Coulthard's "Junkyard Dogs" is a masterful blend of suspense and heart. It's a narrative that respects its audience's intelligence and emotions, making it a significant and impactful read. With characters that stay with you long after the last page is turned and a story that challenges as much as it entertains, this book earns a well-deserved five stars. It’s not just recommended—it's required reading for anyone who cherishes deeply human stories told with genuine passion and skill.


 



author of Junkyard Dogs
Katherine Higgs-Coulthard

About Katherine Higgs-Coulthard:


Katherine Higgs-Coulthard, EdD is the author of Junkyard Dogs, described by Kirkus as "A mean-streets-style tale raw in language and feeling alike . . .visceral."  Her work has appeared in CleaverWomen on Writing, and School Library Journal. She is an associate professor of Education at Saint Mary’s College, Notre Dame where she coordinates the annual Get Inked Teen Writing Conference and prepares preservice teachers to teach literacy and writing. A member of Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators, the National Writing Project, and the National Council of Teachers of English, Kat frequently presents at state and national conferences for writers and educators. Connect with Katherine Higgs-Coulthard by visiting her website: https://writewithkat.com/



Enter the giveaway:


One (1) signed Hard copy of Junkyard Dogs by Katherin Higgs-Coulthard. USA only. Ends on April 30, 2024 midnight EST.






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