by Lauralee Summer
This is the memoir of a college student with an uncommon background. Summer spent most of her childhood homeless. Her father was absent, her mother usually jobless. They rarely had money for food or clothes, much less to rent an apartment or own a car. They moved frequently, and spent time in homeless shelters and welfare offices. Summer's mother taught her to read and write and fed her hunger for knowledge. In Learning Joy from Dogs Without Collars, Summer talks about how much she loved her mother while at the same time often feeling ashamed of her circumstances. She found mentors in high school who encouraged her to strive for a higher education, and ended up getting accepted to Harvard- via the unexpected route of a wrestling scholarship. She became the only woman on the Harvard wrestling team. It was very interesting to read about her joining the wrestling team, and how classroom lectures about sociology- in particular discussing welfare and single mothers- contrasted with Summer's own experiences. This is an inspiring and thoughtful book. I did keep expecting to find a dog in it somewhere, because of the title. It comes from a line in a poem written by a homeless youth, quoted on the frontispiece.
Rating: 3/5 ........ 351 pages, 2003
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