Sixteen-year-old Aaron Cassidy has just become a volunteer at Happy Endings Animal Foundation. This may not seem like a big deal, but to Aaron it is: seven years earlier, a dog attack left Aaron’s face and emotions scarred. Aaron hopes this volunteer opportunity will overcome his fear of dogs. While Aaron is working on this reconciliation, he also navigates a number of relationships from meeting and accepting his father’s new girlfriend, supporting a fellow member of the GSA when the member’s locker is vandalized, and making a few new friends at the shelter including a boy named Finn. The strongest relationship developed in the novel is Aaron’s friendship with a pit bull named Chance who was also physically injured, and left scarred by other dogs.
What is refreshing about this book is that it is not a coming out story. Aaron is out to his family and friends before the novel begins, and he is comfortable with himself and his sexuality. He has many support systems in place from his caring parents and his school’s GSA. The novel does deal with some potential aftermath to the coming out process. Aaron’s two closest friends from childhood, Caleb and Tyler, begin to put distance between themselves and Aaron. The boys work on their friendship throughout the story, however, and this is a mere subplot while the focus remains on Aaron and his work at the shelter.
There is a lot going on in this book, and overall Lavoie does a good job of weaving it together and keeping a reader’s interest. The writing can be rudimentary and repetitive with a great deal of telling and not showing. Meeting Chance would work for both middle school and early high school students, but, it is not a must-own. If your collection is lacking LGBTQ books for the middle school aged, this is a potential purchase.
Reviewer: Shelley Mastalerz
Teen Services Librarian, Burien Library