It’s a glorious, if a bit cold, day here in south Lincolnshire and I’ve really enjoyed reading with the sun on my face while waiting for my daughter to finish her drama class. Keeping me company in the car park has been the brilliant Dog Ears by Anne Booth, an empathic, moving story of a young girl who carries more on her shoulders than she should. With a father working away, a mum who has mental health issues and is focussed solely on the care of a young baby, and a grandmother who takes the view that people should just get a grip and crack on, Anna finds herself being expected to take on more and more responsibility at home to the increasing detriment of her school work, friendships, personal hygiene and her own mental health. Her only outlet is her best friend – her dog, Timmy – but while he is a great emotional support, there’s only so much practical help that 4 paws can give.
This is such a powerful and authentic read (I’m not ashamed to say I shed a tear at one point) that I wasn’t at all surprised to find out that the author, too, was a young carer. What I think will stay with me the most was the message that while young carers are often hidden, the signs can be there in plain sight if only we would take the time to notice and if necessary, connect the dots. Importantly, for those readers who see themselves in this story, there is information about young carers at the end of the book as well as details of organisations that can provide help and support.