I recently got an unbiased review of MY NAME WAS BERT, from Nina Ivanova. It was refreshing to read her thoughts on the book, for I truly think she discovered all of Bert’s complexities, fears, and challenges. Nina took the time to truly think about the meaning of the book, which makes me smile.
An interesting point she brought up was that MY NAME WAS BERT might be a good read for adults, who are learning English as a second language. When writing the book, I envisioned adults enjoying it, mostly the dog lovers of the world. But did not even think of the adults who are looking to learn another language and seeking a delightful, visionary read that is not extremely difficult to comprehend, or that is about a fifth graders trials and tribulations.
I love this idea, and I intend to target this often forgotten audience. I hope that MY NAME WAS BERT can be a great read for those who are learning the English language!
Here is Nina’s critique:
This short novel started with a surprise for me – it began with a dream; and not an usual dream, but a dog’s dream. The whole story is narrated from Bert’s perspective, and really gives the reader a chance to get into this young dog’s world, wether it was her chasing squirrels, or trying to make her way back home.
When I finished reading, at first I was in a little bit of shock – “What about Jo?” I though; “Are those two never getting back together, is Bert not going to redeem herslef for her fail against the bear?” I was surprised, for this was not the turn of events I had built in my mind after reading the first few chapters. So I closed the book (in my case, the file) and give it a bit of time and thought, and began to like it more and more.
Because, I saw, this wasn’t just a story making a mistake and fixing it; nor it was a tale for getting lost and found. It wasn’t simply the story of a dog.This was a story of how love can be greater than anything. Bert was loved by Jo and her husband. And to deserve that love, she didn’t have to be always the hero, or the saver of the day; there are no ifs and becauses love depends on. This was also a story of honour lost and honour restored, and the mistakes we sometimes do, when we cling too much on our pride. This was also a story of hope and starting anew, leaving behind the bad memories that hinder us and keeping only the good ones. It really surprised me how many heartwarming moments I found in these few pages.
So at the end, I really apprecieted how things turned in the end of the book. It was really good to see Bert back in her mood. I was really hoping for Jo to show up again, or at least that she’d be given some hint that her beloved pet was safe and sound. I could really feel the love she had for her dog, and it pains me a little that she may never know the Bert has survived. Ah, but even if I long for perfect ending, it’d not always how it turns in reality
One thing (probably the only) that I didn’t quite like (and again, didn’t like is a strog word here) was the title of the novel. While in the very end it gets clear why it was called that, if I was to see this book in a bookshop, I don’t know if I’d pick it. I somehow associated the title with memoires at the end of one’s life, and with sad ending. But it is all really, really personal, how one would feel towards the title and the cover of one book.
While reading, I was thinking whom I’d reccomend this book. Of course, it’d be perfect for young readers, but another target group came right into my mind – students who study English as a foreign language. As I too don’t speak English as my mother’s language, but learnt it later, I know that it is sometimes hard to find a good book that will help you in your study and entertain you in the same time. Very often, the beauty of the telling is sacrificed, in order to turn it into lighter read, here is not the case. The short chapters, the structure of the sentences made it a nice, easy and clean read, while the words used painted pictures that got you right into the story. In short – a book that I would have loved to have some years ago.
”My name was Bert” was a quick, nice read, that however can give the young readers something to think about (and maybe the older ones, too!) and leave a nice warm feeling afterwards