Welcome Home Mama and Boris; How a Sister’s Love Saved a Fallen Soldier’s Beloved Dogs. Carey Neesley with Michael Levin. Reader’s Digest Association, Inc. August 2013. 224 pp. pbk. ISBN #: 9781621451150.
Carrie and Peter Neesley are brother and sister who although born two years apart are like twins. They think the same, act the same, react the same, and support each other through a difficult yet loving childhood. Family is the cornerstone of their lives; and even after their parents’ divorce they bond together through the nasty part of their parents’ separation. Throughout all of this, their tough familial bond gets them through horrors like 9/11. But at the same time, it’s obvious that Peter who has joined the Army is going to war! This practically shatters Carrie’s world but through Peter’s example she gets stronger, even though the fear is always looming in the background.
This is the memoir about what she learns from Peter and her world about real, nitty gritty tough war, its brutality and its beauty. For Carrie begins a journey of helping the “cause” in a way the reader will love following. Her world and that of her parents’ will be shattered when Peter dies, ironically not from a wartime wound. Yet it is the war that produces the psychological effect and need for sanity that proves his undoing. It really doesn’t matter how; the reality of this loss is beyond words as it is for every family who has traveled this grievous road.
Once again, though, Carrie rises above the pain and begins to focus on getting Peter’s dogs he adopted in Iraq (or perhaps they adopted him which is more like it) shipped from Baghdad, Iraq to Grosse Point in Michigan. Having them and the life involving their training and care becomes the way Carrie and her family carry on Peter’s compassionate, caring nature, a skill that evolves into providing the same opportunity for other adoptions of stray dogs who have no future alive if left in the war-torn streets of Baghdad.
Mama and Boris… is full of suspense and poignancy that never descends to maudlin because it is such a real, real account. It is the gift of hope that Peter and Carey share with each other and others in their worlds that makes the reader flip the pages, hope that transforms the worst possible darkness into the brightest light that creates new life, not only for the dogs who are brought to new homes but those who adopt them and share the dream of Peter and Carrie!
In a world fraught with bad news and horror, Mama and Boris… is a warm, heart-felt account that will move the hardest of hearts. Well worth the read for all!