Sunday, September 1, 2013

Welcome Home Mama & Boris

by Carey Neesley and Michael Levin
 Readers Digest,     2013
223 pages      Memoir

I was at loose ends today when I picked up Welcome Home Mama and Boris. And my heart was immediately warmed as I became engrossed in this story of dogs, love, grief, and redemption. 

Peter Neesley was serving in Iraq when he found and befriended a mother dog and her pups. Caring for the dogs brought meaning to his tour of duty, and he planned to bring them home with him when he came home. Tragically, he died in his sleep on Christmas morning in 2007 in Baghdad. His sister, Carey, with whom he was very close, made it her mission to bring the two remaining dogs home as a memorial to her brother. This memoir details her efforts and her success in bringing Mama and her pup Boris back to Michigan from Iraq.

Carey describes her bond with her brother with great depth of emotion, and we are touched by the grief, pain and confusion she felt at his death.  She immediately decided that the dogs must come home, and much of the book describes the steps she and her family took to achieve that goal. Of course, they had to fight the bureaucracy every step of the way, but they also had some wonderful things happen because of the media attention they gained by telling their heartwarming story . The story was covered in all the major media outlets including NPR.  
She also mentions the help Senator Carl Levin and the Michigan governor, Jennifer Granholm gave them, as well as a nonprofit that helps soldiers bring their dogs home.

I tutor many Middle Eastern students, particularly Saudi Arabians, and they tell me that there are stray dogs all over the Middle East. Very few people in the Middle East have dogs as pets. Some of my clients are afraid of dogs, primarily because they have so little experience with them. Of course American soldiers will latch on to those dogs; it is a touch of home, and it is very easy to see why they want to bring the dogs home with them. 

Welcome Home Mama and Boris is a touching memoir. It is the kind of book that Readers Digest does particularly well. I can see my teenaged granddaughters really loving it, and I will give it to them to read. I suggest that readers watch the trailer which can be found on YouTube here. Also, there is a nice review of the book in the Huntington WV News. The book is being released this week.

A nice review in the Huntington News:

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