Summer Reading Program, Day 4: S.E. Hinton and The Life of A Dog…

Ninth grade me had a huge crush on an tenth grader in my Biology class. She was blonde, cute and very flirty. So when I found out that she was a library aid during my lunch period it wasn’t uncommon for me to spend my lunch break in the library. On one of these lunch breaks, I was helping blondie reshelve some books when I stumbled across Dogsbody by Diana Wynn Jones. The cover looked cool but what grabbed me was the summary on the back:

The Dog Star, Sirius, is tried for murder by his heavenly peers and found guilty. His sentence: to be reborn on Earth as a dog until such time as he carries out the seemingly impossible mission imposed on him. In his Earth guise, Sirius, truly lives a dog’s life. But the worldly obstacles he faces are minor when compared with his chilling encounters with the Dark Powers that are set against him. His quest seems hopeless until at last Sol, Moon, and Earth itself come to his aid.

I mean…you had me at “dark powers”, right? I took it home with me that day. It was a little below my reading level so I burned through it in a couple of days. I loved it. I loved it so much I reread it a month or so later. It’s just a great story. And even though, at it’s core, it’s about a girl and her dog, it doesn’t get cutesy or sappy. It’s full of suspense and just the right amount of supernatural. I’m a little surprised it was never made into a movie. I bought a copy about ten years ago and keep meaning to reread it but just haven’t.

Growing up in Oklahoma, S.E. Hinton books are pretty much required reading. All of her books are set in Tulsa, Oklahoma where she reside to this day. I live in Tulsa now, too, but grew up about an hour north of here so proximity begat fondness for a lot of people not to mention she’s just a damn good writer. I first encountered The Outsiders in junior high. I read the book and saw the movie right around the same time and trust me…the book is better (as usual). I could definitely identify with the rivalry in the book except, in my town, it was east side/west side. People on the west side went to Central junior high and those of us on the east side went to Madison junior high. There were definite social and financial differences between the two sides and we’ll just leave it at that. I understood “turf” and protecting your neighborhood: some buddies and I got in a fight one summer day because another group of boys cornered us and told us it was their neighborhood now. A short conversation and a couple of bamboo sticks convinced them otherwise.

Reading The Outsiders lead to reading That Was Then, This Is Now which led to reading Rumble Fish. They were full of angst and violence and strained relationships. I found it all fascinating.

So what say you? Did you read any of these? I’ll be shocked if anyone has heard of Dogsbody but I’m sure the Hinton books will have some fans. Tomorrow is our last day. We’ll be talking about Death, Time, and Fate…

See all the books in the Summer Reading Program

About Eric Vardeman 115 Articles
80's lover. Screenwriter. Cohost of The Greatest Lists podcast. Christmas enthusiast. Tulsa Curling Club founder. Cherokee. Guitar player. Boomer Sooner. Curator of 80's playlists (


  1. Never heard of the dog book, but loved the S.E. Hinton books especially The Outsiders. Still one of my favorite books & the film also holds a special place for me.

  2. S.E. Hinton is for sure one of my favorite authors. I love all the books you mentioned and also Tex, which is a little less big city but as interesting as her other books. I agree the Outsiders is a better book than movie (although I like the movie too for what it is). Interestingly, there are movies of That was Then and Rumble Fish. I think Matt Dillion stars in Rumble Fish and Emilio Estevez in That was Then.

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