Archive for July, 2017

Starting Over: A Trina Ryan Novel, by Sheri S. Levy, Barking Rain Press

In many ways, Trina Ryan is a typical 14-year-old Carolina girl. She has a best friend, Sarah, who shares Trina’s joys, fears, and secrets, a first crush, Chase, who gave Trina her first kiss at Edisto Island, and a love of horses so strong that she spends much of her time working at the barn where she rides.

But one important thing sets Trina apart from other young teens: She raises and trains service dogs to assist adults and children with disabilities.

Starting Over—the second book in Sheri S. Levy’s Trina Ryan Novel series—tells the story of a young girl beginning her volunteer training with a black Labrador pup named Colton, from PAALS (Palmetto Animal Assisted Life Services). The story flows easily from Levy’s award-winning first novel, Seven Days to Goodbye, in which Trina works with an adolescent dog named Sydney, experiencing the excitement and satisfaction of training, as well as the pain of saying goodbye to a service dog when it gets a new leash on life with a disabled owner.

In Starting Over, Trina trains a wiggly, 8-week-old pup, Colton, works at the nearby horse barn, and rides her favorite horse, Chancy, almost every day. She shares a special friendship with the popular and fashionable Sarah, and watches expectantly for phone calls and texts from Chase, who lives an hour and a half away.

Levy is on sure ground in this engaging, coming-of-age novel. Readers see the world through the eyes of Trina Ryan, a special, freckle-faced, redhead who has a big heart for horses, service dogs, and people in need. And in Starting Over, Trina learns some of life’s most important lessons: that people are not always what they seem, growing up involves tough choices, and a first crush can be more exciting than she ever dreamed.

“Everything around me intensified,” Levy writes, about Trina’s reaction to Chase’s first “real kiss,” as he describes it. “The green leaves shined under our blue sky. I covered my stomach with both of my hands, hoping to stop my insides from vibrating.”

Such good vibrations abound in Starting Over, but Levy conjures plenty of challenges, including an accident one stormy night that seriously threatens Trina’s work with service dogs, and the arrival of Morgan, a new girl at the barn who seems to have everything, including shiny, black equestrian boots and a handsome dressage horse named Knight, but hides a dark secret about her life outside the ring.

In Starting Over, Levy has created an enjoyable page-turner for young adults—an entertaining read and kind of primer on the importance of training service dogs for the disabled. It’s poignant, fun, and adventuresome.

In fact, the best part about Starting Over, book number two in the Trina Ryan series, is that readers know they can look forward to book number three.



sheri levy with award


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