Harvey Holds His Own
Harvey Holds His Own
Maggie pulls on the itchy knee socks, part of her uniform for St. Ambrose Academy. She’d been excited about the uniform when she first started. She thought the girls who went to St. Ambrose looked so smart in their kilts, white blouses, and navy cardigans. After a month of wearing the uncomfortable clothing, her enthusiasm has waned.
Starting seventh grade at St. Ambrose has meant lots of big changes for Maggie. Because the school is farther from home, she has to leave early in the morning. Her father drops her off on his way to work. She’s also learned how to take the city bus home, something which has shown her a whole new side of the city. Luckily, her best friends, Brianne and Lexi, also got into St. Ambrose, and the three of them are on the bus together. St. Ambrose is where her mother went, and, from a young age, Maggie hoped she’d go there, too.
There’s more homework at St. Ambrose and also no boys, the latter being something which Maggie minds more than she thought she would. And her minding is not because she particularly liked any of the boys at her old school, but she finds the energy in the classroom to be different without them. It’s been a month of getting used to new things, and Maggie is glad she has Harvey, her West Highland white terrier, to come home to.
Adjusting to life at her new school is somewhat difficult for Maggie. The uniforms are itchy, her two best friends seem to be developing separate interests from her, and she finds herself in the uncomfortable position of simply agreeing with whatever they say in order to get along. What she does enjoy are her volunteer hours at Brayside, a continuing-care community where her dog, Harvey, had spent time last year while he was lost. At Brayside, Maggie makes friends with Austin (another volunteer who cared for Harvey during his sojourn) and Mrs. Fradette, a gutsy new resident who tells some fantastic stories of growing up in Winnipeg.
The sequel to Harvey Comes Home is narrated in alternating chapters by Maggie, Austin, and Harvey. In a gently paced and heartfelt way, Nelson juggles three separate but intersecting story trajectories: Harvey is determined to root out and destroy the stranger in his back yard; Austin wants desperately to have a dog of his own; and Maggie, through listening to the tales Mrs. Fradette tells, learns to be comfortable following her own path. Particularly effective are the final scenes in which Harvey’s close encounter with a raccoon results in his requiring surgery, an event which brings Maggie, Austin, and Mrs. Fradette together to hear the conclusion of Mrs. Fradette’s story about the trials and tribulations of becoming a female auto mechanic circa 1950. Fans of the original and newcomers alike will relish the riveting friendship story contained within the pages of Harvey Holds His Own.
Kay Weisman is a former youth services librarian at West Vancouver Memorial Library.