Almost Perfect

  • by Diane Daniels Manning
  • Narrated by Caroline Miller
  • 9 hrs and 7 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

Fourteen-year-old Benny Neusner wants only one thing more than a dog: for his neglectful mother to be proud of him. He hasn't given up on impressing his mother, but a dog is out of the question. His father and stepmother will never permit it. They don't understand how lonely he is. He is not a brain like the other kids in his therapeutic school, and nothing he's tried has ever worked out for him. Benny meets Bess Rutledge, a 70-year-old woman who has dreamed of winning the Westminster Dog Show all her life. Despite her decades-long career as America's top Standard Poodle breeder, she has never entered Westminster, and now she thinks she's too old. She sells off all the dogs in her once famous kennel except for the aging champion McCreery and Breaker, McCreery's handsome, mischievous son. She offers to give Breaker to Benny, but Benny wants a real dog, not a sissy poodle.
Benny is drawn into the world of dog shows and becomes convinced he has found the perfect way to gain his mother's attention. If he can win Westminster with either McCreery or Breaker, he is sure she will be proud of him at last. But first he needs to convince the reluctant Bess to come out of retirement, Benny wins Bess over when she recognizes a connection between Benny's relationship with his mother and her own indifferent mothering when her grown son was Benny's age. Benny shows unexpected talent in the show ring as the two unlikely friends, Benny and Bess, race against time to build up Breaker's credentials as a champion. They overcome a variety of challenges in the show ring and at home while teaching each other important lessons about families and forgiveness. Now the only questions left to decide are who will go into the ring at Westminster: McCreery or Breaker? Benny or Bess? In an ending full of surprises, dreams come true in unexpected ways where winning can be losing and losing is almost perfect.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

Good!

If you could sum up Almost Perfect in three words, what would they be?

Poodles! SlowNot my style


What about Caroline Miller’s performance did you like?

She did a great job in the performance.


Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

The puppy coming back to life.


Any additional comments?

I think the story was lacking in character development and action. The story seemed to move very slow for me. Although this is not my kind of book, it still seemed to be missing something that i couldn't put my finger on. I felt like the ending needed an epilog.

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- karina Larson

Big Themes in a Small Bundle

Bess, at seventy-plus years of age, has resigned from life. The kennels where her life's work of breeding and training show dogs have become reminders not of her joys and accomplishments, but of her regrets and failures. So, defiantly, she has them bulldozed and then retreats into a life of isolation and bitterness.

Until Benny, a young teen with mild autism, shows up, and things change. Boy, do they ever! Benny enthusiastically meets head-on his need for love, acceptance, and purpose, which his divorced parents are too busy or uncaring to provide. With great reluctance, Bess joins Benny on his journey to self-worth and, along the way, finds her own.

In Almost Perfect, Diane Manning has brought together these universal themes in a warm, humorous, and at times heartbreaking way. Her characters are fully realized and her choice to have them prepare for the Super Bowl of dog shows, the Westminster, is inspired. It works on every level.

A fine book which will make you laugh out loud, cry, and, more importantly, ponder your own life choices.
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- Sally Asante

Book Details

  • Release Date: 10-20-2014
  • Publisher: Diane Daniels Manning