Synopses & Reviews
Learning Joy from Dogs Without Collars
is about my memories of growing up, being raised by an eccentric and uniquely idealistic single mother. It is about how I was sometimes homeless and lived in shelters and in one apartment after another. It is about adventures my mother and I had, including moving across the country -- from Astoria, Oregon, a small coastal town, to Boston, Massachusetts, a bigger city on a different coast. It is about how I -- by accident, it seemed -- found myself to be the only girl on a high school wrestling team, how that worked out, and what I learned.
The book is also about how I later went to Harvard, a world completely unlike the ones I grew up in; how I adapted to life there. It is about how I met my father when I was nineteen, and how my father finally became my dad.
It is about all of these things, and everything in between. It is the story of a girl coming into her own, learning and understanding her place in the world. It is about the innocence and resiliency of childhood -- the space of happiness and joy which poverty was unable to demolish or diminish.
"[A] powerful and stylish memoir....Throughout this sophisticated, literary work, readers will admire the author's determination not to dwell on disappointment or live with anger....Summer does the memoir genre proud, both inspiring and informing the reader." Library Journal
"As well as telling her story with insight and a remarkable generosity of spirit, Summer quietly but insistently explores the meaning of the word 'home,' chronicling her efforts to reconcile the intellectual and worldly home she found at Harvard with the one provided by her mother. A rare memoir of hard times that is both forgiving and perceptive." Kirkus Reviews
"[A]ffecting but uneven....It's a comprehensive, chronological account, and it sometimes seems to include every memory of Summer's early life....Conversely, she glosses over some key issues....Summer's tale is memorable as she writes frankly about poverty, shame and class distinctions." Publishers Weekly
"Here is an American story of vulnerability and willful determination and here, too, is a story of youthful survival and success against great odds. We readers have so much to learn from this writer's life as she tells of it." Dr. Robert Coles
In a memoir of a life in which nothing is taken for granted, Summer tells a moving story of triumph over adversity. Imbued with the wisdom of a woman who has seen life as a homeless girl and as a student within Harvard University's esteemed walls, this is a stirring tale of the power of the human will.
About the Author
Lauralee Summer received a B.A. in children's studies from Harvard University in 1998.
Table of Contents
2 What Does Your Mother Do?
3 The Trouble with Reading
4 Please Stay off the Grass
5 The Kids
6 Discipline, Part I
7 There and Back Again
8 1509 Franklin
11 Costume Making
12 View from a Bus Window
13 He Is Blue and I Gray, Fragmented
14 The Quarterdeck Inn
15 Seashore Drive
17 Quincy High School
18 Mr. Mac
19 "as my dream wrestled with itself and me"
21 Homeless to Harvard
22 Moving In
23 Blueberry Honey
24 Parents' Weekend
25 Sleeping Outside
26 The Universe and Everything
27 Discipline, Part II
28 "Love Is Bodies, Blood and Sweat"
29 Meeting Him
30 (How to) Make a Room of Your Own