This novel, Alan Lazar’s first, is a must-read. Roam is the story of Nelson, a Beagle/Poodle cross who enjoys and experiences his world through his sense of smell.
Mr Lazar does an excellent job at describing Nelson’s story from Nelson’s point of view; for example: ‘The first thing Nelson smelled was grass…The smell had many layers to it.”
Nelson’s cross-bred litter was an accident to an elderly breeder who would sell poodles and beagle pups for extra income. Nelson is sent to a Boston pet store to be sold and he experiences his first ‘bad’ person – the store owner who resents having to sell a cross-bred pup.
And then Katey, a pianist, enters his life. Katey becomes Nelson’s Great Love and for a time, they enjoy a happy life together with a routine that includes daily piano practice, with Nelson sitting contentedly under the piano. “Here Comes the Sun” becomes a special song for Nelson. Nelson particularly enjoys the flowers in the garden: “His favorite of all was the beautiful white tuberoses that Katey had planted a few months earlier. Their scent was pretty during the day, but Nelson particularly loved inhaling them at night, when their true, mystical fragrance emerged.”
Then, as Katey’s marriage is in trouble, a gate is left open one day and Nelson follows his nose. He roams far from home, living on the streets where a homeless man quickly steals his prized collar to sell for a dollar. Since Nelson is not micro-chipped, he loses his only means of identification.
Roam tells the story of Nelson’s eight years on the run. We meet his truck driving companion, Thatcher; his girlfriend, Lucy; a wolf family; and other characters. Nelson, as a stray dog, narrowly escapes being euthanized in an animal shelter on two occasions. And he loses his leg to a vehicular accident.
The e-version of this book comes complete with a musical score consisting of original pieces by Lazar, who is also an accomplished composer.
Throughout Nelson’s eight years, he thinks of his Great Love. Although he bonds with other people, it is Katey that has won his heart.
Will he ever see Katey again? I’ll leave that for you to find out, when you read Roam.