Review: Chester and Gus by Cammie McGovern

Review by Cristina Silva Gleasonchester

10-year- old Gus is autistic and unable to communicate with those around him. He struggles to be understood and heard. Chester is a super smart but failed service dog candidate. Can he provide Gus and his family the answers they’ve been searching for?

Chester and Gus is a heart-warming fantasy for middle-grade readers that captures the story of a unique friendship between a dog person and his reluctant human “person”. Told from Chester’s point of view, the story reframes perceptions of those with special needs through the innocent eye of man’s best friend. While struggling to establish a bond with Gus and his role in the family, Chester must help Gus navigate the challenges of social life. The unlikely duo tackles tough obstacles at home and at school – providing a glimpse into relatable coming of age experiences with a twist.

McGovern’s characters provide young readers with insight into the often-misunderstood
behaviors of their special needs peers. Chester and Gus expertly gives a voice to a
community often silent in literature – though Gus never wants to pet Chester, he yearns
to connect with him in his own way. McGovern’s book provides young readers with a
relatable and accessible window into the daily lives of special needs youth in a way
that’s cheeky, engaging, and endearing.

Chester and Gus
by Cammie McGovern
HarperCollins, 2017
272 pages

Cristina is a M.A. candidate in Educational Psychology (CSPP) at the University of Minnesota and despite really enjoying this book she is terribly afraid of dogs.


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