It is June and Shit is sad. She knows that she will not get to leave her neighbourhood that summer, and the beach is far, far away. And that clouds like the bottom of a donkey’s belly will hover all summer over her town, high among the volcanoes of northern Tenerife.
But Shit – our nine-year-old narrator – has a best friend, Isora. Shit likes everything about Isora. The colour of her arms and her hair and her eyes. Her handwriting and the way she wrote the letter g with a huge tail. The way she called her shit because poop was a beautiful thing like the mist round the pines. But she envies her too. Envies her grits and gut. The way she talks to grown ups. The fact that she got her period and had pubes on her minky.
As the summer goes on, Shit finds it increasingly hard to keep up with Isora – one year older and growing up at full tilt without her. When Shit’s submissiveness veers into obsession and a painful sexual awakening, desire becomes indistinguishable from intimate violence. Braiding prose poetry with bachata lyrics and the gritty humour of Canary dialect, Dogs of Summer is a brutal picture of girlhood in the 90s and a story, told with exquisite yearning, of a friendship that simmers into erotic desire over the course of one hot summer
Thank you to the publisher for the gifted proof copy of Dogs of Summer.
An interesting read, short, almost a novella at just 180 pages, written in the lyrical first person voice of 9 year old Shit, although truthfully I would have guessed she was slightly older than this; a young teenager perhaps. Living on the island of Tenerife over the course of one summer, Shit and her friend Isora are bored, they mill about, entertaining themselves and keeping out of the way of the adults in their lives.
A strong sexual undercurrent runs through this book which could be described as ‘coming of age’. The author references first love and is quoted as saying,
‘Probably, our first love was our best friend and our first kiss was with her too.’
So this is a story of first love, Shit’s love for Isora, her older, more worldly and popular friend and it is a story of sexual awakening as Shit begins to discover sexual self pleasure. Following Isora is not without its risks and an incident with a boy leaves Shit shocked and confused, angry at Isora but lost without her.
Hard to say I ‘liked’ this book, it is not that type of story, but if felt very honest, brutally so and searing as the heat of the island sun felt tangible amidst this tale.
Well translated, maintaining the Spanish flavour while reading well in English. Dogs of Summer is published on 9th June.
Thanks as always for reading.
About the Author
Andrea Abreu (Tenerife, 1995) studied journalism at La Laguna University and moved to Madrid in 2017 to study a masters. She is a regular contributor for Tentaciones – El Pais, LOLA (Buzzfeed), Vice, Zenda and Quimera, among others. Her debut novel, Panza de Burro, was first published in Spain to great acclaim. In 2021, Andrea Abreu was included in Granta’s new selection in a decade of the Best Young Spanish Language Novelists.