Synopses & Reviews
Max Edelman was just 17 when the Nazis took him to the first of five work camps, where his only hope of survival was to keep quiet and raise an emotional shield. After witnessing a German Shepherd kill a fellow prisoner, he developed a lifelong fear of dogs. Beaten into blindness by two bored guards, Max survived, buried the past, and moved on. But when he retired, he needed help. After a month of training, he received Calvin, a devoted chocolate Labrador retriever. Calvin guided Max safely through life, but he sensed Max’s distance and reserve. Calvin grew listless and lost weight. Trainers intervened—but to no avail. A few days before Calvin’s inevitable reassignment, Max went for a walk. A car cut into the crosswalk, and Calvin leapt forward, saving Max’s life. Max’s emotional shield dissolved. Calvin sensed the change and immediately improved, guiding Max to greater openness, trust, and engagement with the world. Here is the remarkable, touching story of a man who survived history and the dog that unlocked his heart.
"The subtitle is misleading, as this book is more Holocaust memoir than human/animal story. An opening section describes how Calvin, an 'exceedingly well-mannered and impeccably well-trained' guide dog, cannot bring himself to help Max Edelman, a blind Holocaust survivor; the animal, for some reason, cannot bond with Edelman. But after those four pages, the rest of the book by journalist Peters offers a well-written, grim portrayal of Edelman's struggle to survive imprisonment by the Nazis, which only became more of an uphill battle after a beating left him blind. After the war, he ends up in Cleveland and builds a life, a family, and a career. After retiring in 1990, Edelman agrees to having a guide dog, despite his fear of the animals based on witnessing attack dogs used by the Germans. Calvin receives scant attention, despite the book's title. Given that imbalance, animal lovers are likely to be disappointed, and, based on the title, reaching readers looking for another moving account of enduring unbearable horrors is a long shot. Agent: Andrew Stuart, the Stuart Agency." Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
"A well-written, grim portrayal of Edelman’s struggle to survive."
"Sharon Peters masterfully shares the journey of Calvin, Boychick, and Tobi, the guide dogs who penetrated a Holocaust survivor’s pain, distrust, and blindness. Max Edelman’s life-affirming and exquisitely written story raises love for dogs to a whole new level of respect and gratitude. This book’s messages of hope and healing are impossible to forget and essential to remember."
—Allen and Linda Anderson, cofounders of Angel Animals Network and authors of A Dog Named Leaf: The Hero from Heaven Who Saved My Life
About the Author
Sharon Peters is an award-winning journalist who has worked as a reporter, editor, or consultant for several newspapers and launched the popular weekly "Pet Talk" column in USA Today. She turned her attention to writing about animals after volunteering in Mississippi for several weeks after Hurricane Katrina. She lives in Colorado.