Cecelia is having a hard time-- her mother has left her and her father, and her father is struggling with a career change. He was a P.E. teacher, but after years in school has become a lawyer... but he takes cases that aren't terribly remunerative. When a fire damages the family home, Cecelia and her father has to move in with an aunt who does not care for pets. Cecelia spends a lot of time at the local animal shelter, helping out, and has recently found a pug with whom she has an instant connection. She knows she won't be able to adopt Potato herself, but she's not happy when the wealthy jock Eric Chung and his family do. Eric wants to prove to his very driven parents that a rescue dog can do well in a dog show, but Potato has bonded so closely with Cecelia that Eric has to ask for her help. Eric's sister becomes good friends with Cecelia, which helps both of their social lives, and Cecelia starts to realize that she really enjoys hanging out with Eric, even when they don't need to train Potato.
This had so many good qualities! It showed a girl with realistic problems (housing insecurity, struggling father) who is still trying to do good things in her community. It has a multicultural element as well. There is some friend drama, and most importantly, there is a light romance between characters who have shared interests and a mutual respect and friendship. Plus the cover is adorable. Love, love. love this!
Readers who like HarperTeen's First Kisses series, Aladdin's Mix! books, and Bloomsbury's If Only romances will enjoy this middle grade tale of drama, cute boys... and cute dogs!