Watch out for Rosie, who is whip-smart but as mean as the snakes she tries to catch. During the summer before sixth grade, Rosie is as gruff and gritty as her grandfather and the town where they live. Rosie’s lawyer mother abandoned her as a baby, and life with Rosie’s dad was good until he had a serious stroke a year ago, leaving him so severely disabled that Rosie can’t bear to visit him in the rehab hospital. Rosie’s gnarly but loving grandpa stepped in, taking over her father’s doughnut store to try to eke out a living.
Rosie has little to be happy about in Chasing Augustus, Kimberly Newton Fusco’s spirited novel. Her grades have tanked, and her foremost goal is trying to find her misbehaving dog, Augustus, whom her mother gave away when her father had his stroke. For Rosie, losing Augustus was the crowning blow: “When you lose your dog, there’s a hole in your heart as big as the sun. Your head aches all the time and you are so empty inside because you are half the girl you used to be.” Rosie will do anything to find him, even break the law, and she’s pretty sure her dog is living on a farm with a woman known as Swanson, a town outcast who doesn’t speak and is rumored to shoot squirrels.
Helping in Rosie’s quest to find her dog—and herself—is a cast of quirky characters, including a withdrawn foster child named Philippe, an annoying chatterbox named Cynthia and a gifted sixth-grade teacher, Mr. Peterson, who challenges Rosie to open her heart and her mind.
There are no easy answers for Rosie, but through her own determination and with the help of a trusted few, she learns to find her way.