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When Mr. Dog Bites


When Mr. Dog Bites

Dylan Mint has Tourette’s. For Dylan, life is a constant battle to keep the bad stuff in --- the swearing, the tics, the howling dog that escapes whenever he gets stressed. And, as a 16-year-old virgin and pupil at Drumhill Special School, getting stressed is something of an occupational hazard. But then a routine visit to the hospital changes everything. Overhearing a hushed conversation between the doctor and his mother, Dylan discovers that he's going to die next March. So he grants himself three parting wishes: three ‘Cool Things To Do Before I Cack It’. It isn’t a long list, but it is ambitious, and he doesn't have much time. But as Dylan sets out to make his wishes come true, he discovers that nothing --- and no-one --- is quite as he had previously supposed.

Oftentimes, reading a book about someone who has a disorder is difficult; it’s hard to understand what exactly the character is going through. WHEN THE DOG BITES does a great job of showing that. Dylan’s voice is unique and realistic. It was easy to see how much he had to struggle to get through every single day, which made it easier to empathize with him.

The relationship that Dylan has with Amir was very heartwarming to read about. They understand each other well and if either of them are feeling down, they know what the other needs to feel better. It isn’t often that you find friends like these and it was touching to see that Dylan and Amir were so close.

[Dylan’s] optimism in dire situations was something that I really admired about him.

One of my favorite things about Dylan was his optimism. When he finds out that he is dying, he doesn’t go sulk. He doesn’t go and complain to everyone about it being unfair. Instead, Dylan takes that and turns it into an opportunity to set goals for himself and fulfill them. Not many 16-year-old's would do that if they found out they only had a few more months to live, and that is what set Dylan apart from other characters I’ve read about. His optimism in dire situations was something that I really admired about him.

All in all, I enjoyed reading the book. I found myself laughing and crying at the same time while reading. Although it wasn’t a light read, it was interesting to read about someone like Dylan. Even when he finds out he is going to die, he remains optimistic. His voice was realistic and very unique and I thoroughly enjoyed reading about him.


When I found out that Dylan wasn’t actually going to die, my mind went blank. We’d spent the whole book thinking that and then it turns out to be false information. How do you react when you find out that someone who was supposed to die isn’t going to anymore? I was so confused and my feelings were all over the place --- I had no idea what was going on so I had to reread the same page more than twice. As you can tell, that was the part that shocked me the most.

Reviewed by Pranshu A., Teen Board Member on June 11, 2014

When Mr. Dog Bites
by Brian Conaghan

  • Publication Date: February 2, 2016
  • Genres: Fiction, Health
  • Paperback: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Bloomsbury USA Childrens
  • ISBN-10: 1681190184
  • ISBN-13: 9781681190181