Dog Bone Soup by Bette A. Stevens


Dog Bone Soup Promo


DOG BONE SOUP is not only the title of Bette A. Stevens’s debut novel; it ranks high among the paltry meals that the book’s protagonist, Shawn Daniels, wants to forget. Plodding through mounting snow and battling howling winds, Shawn is ready to leave it all behind—living in poverty, Dad’s drinking, life in foster care, the divorce, the bullies…..

Travel with Shawn Daniels through the guts and the glories of life. You’ll find them all in DOG BONE SOUP, a Boomer’s coming-of-age saga.


From the Reviewers

“Dog Bone Soup is the poignant tale of a dysfunctional family struggling to survive in America in the 50s and 60s, when most others were on the crest of a wave. It will make you laugh, it will make you cry. But most of all it will make you glad you read it.” ~ Charlie Bray, founder of the Indietribe


“In Dog Bone Soup, Bette Stevens captures the feeling and images of growing up in hardscrabble times perfectly.” ~ John Clark, librarian and author

Opening Excerpt of Chapter 1 (Plus link at end to read the entire chapter)…

Dog Bone SoupThe postcard arrived four days before my eighteenth birthday. All I had to do now was sign the final papers and light out for basic training. I could hardly wait to leave this place behind.

There were six of us ready to become soldiers. The other five guys were headed to Fort Dix. Soon as we were inducted, the sergeant who swore us in started calling us a bunch of lily-assed bastards and worse. When the jerk marched the other five guys off, I was happy as hell I wasn’t one of them.

Lieutenant Richards called me into his office. “You’ll be heading out tomorrow, Private Daniels. Here are your tickets.”

We sat in his office and talked about my future with the U.S. Army. Then he handed me a schedule for the next day’s journey and we went over every detail.

“Now let’s get you home so you can get a good night’s sleep before you fly off to serve Uncle Sam, soldier.”

“Good luck Private,” the lieutenant said when he dropped me off at the house. We saluted and I stood there watching until his car disappeared over the hill.

I’d always liked army people. They called me Mr. Daniels and even sir sometimes. Now I was officially a private in the U.S. Army and I was ready to start a new life. I pictured myself in an officer’s uniform one day—a lieutenant, a captain, maybe even a general.

Mum and I didn’t get much more than a few winks of sleep that night. I don’t know how many pots of coffee she perked while we sat at the kitchen table and talked the night away. Of course, it was Mum did most of the talking. Once she opened her picture books, I felt like I was drinking in the life I wanted to leave.

Mum took all of those pictures with her Brownie—that camera was her pride and joy. None of us kids was allowed to touch it unless she supervised a picture taking every now and then. If Dad wasn’t around, it was me peeking through the lens. Mum was fussy about taking pictures just so.

Five books were piled on the table and we went through them one page at a time. Mum had a story for every snap shot. Some made me laugh so hard that I doubled over.

It was two minutes shy of three when she closed the last album.

“Thanks for staying up. I’ve got the alarm set for six and I know that won’t give us much sleep.” Mum pulled out her hanky, sniffled and hugged me before we turned in. My leaving would to be hard on her.

Willie was snoring away, likely dreaming about cars. I slipped in next to him and pulled away some puffs and huddled under them.

The minute I closed my eyes I started dreaming about my new life. No more freezing to death up north. I was headed for southern sunshine and I saw myself soaking it all in.

Bzzzzzzz. I jumped out of bed, threw on my clothes, grabbed the suitcase and headed for the kitchen. Mum already had breakfast on the stove, so I ran outside to do my business and came back in to grab a hot biscuit and down it with a cup of steaming coffee.

I was half frozen and snow was whipping around me in circles when I headed out on the three-mile walk into town to catch that bus.

I shook flakes big as quarters from my jacket when I climbed the steps of the Greyhound. Two hours and I’d be boarding a plane headed to Fort Jackson. South Carolina was sure the place to be, especially in February.
### end of excerpt


About the Author

Bette A. StevensInspired by nature and human nature, author Bette A. Stevens is a retired elementary and middle school teacher, a wife, mother of two and grandmother of five. Stevens lives in Central Maine with her husband on their 37-acre farmstead where she enjoys writing, gardening, walking and reveling in the beauty of nature. She advocates for children and families, for childhood literacy and for the conservation of monarch butterflies (milkweed is the only plant that monarch caterpillars will eat).

Bette A. Stevens is the author of award-winning picture book AMAZING MATILDA; home/school resource, The Tangram Zoo and Word Puzzles Too!; and PURE TRASH, the short story prequel to DOG BONE SOUP.


Find out more about the author and her books at


My Review

DOG BONE SOUP is a heartwarming and sometimes humorous look at life in the 1950’s and 60’s. It is a story of poverty, bullying, alcoholism, and domestic violence.  It will take you back to a time when society accepted these issues as a normal occurrence.

Dog bone soup is a recurring topic throughout this book.  When as a very young boy, Shawn and his brother were put into foster care, it soon became evident they were merely a paycheck to his foster mother. Eventually his father got him back and moved the family to a house that most would call a shack because his father was too lazy to insulate or install running water.  A child of dirt-poor parents, Shawn Daniels collected the bones from the butcher for his mother to make dog bone soup to feed her family. Even though his mother dressed up the soup as much as she could with what she had on hand, Shawn hated having to eat it. Shawn watched as his drunken father abused his mother, physically and verbally. The oldest of four children, he shouldered much of the responsibility his father shunned. He helped his mom with the chores and with the care and supervision of his brother and sisters. He did a man’s job while still a young boy. Added to all of his other problems, the school bully made his life miserable and teased him unrelentingly because he was poor and the son of the town drunk.

DBS American Pie BlueShawn vowed to himself, he would pull himself up out of poverty, get away from this town, and make something of himself. Life was hard, but Shawn had the spirit and the tenacity to do something about it.

This book was a surprise in the way it brought to light all of the issues Shawn faced daily, from his early childhood onward. Many of those issues are still in evidence today. Unlike Shawn, the wheels of politics and progress grind slowly and none of these adversities in society have been completely eradicated.

Bette Stevens, with her insight and talent for bringing a story to life, did an outstanding job capturing the woes and the struggles of a poor family in a time when the rest of the community was moving forward into the American dream.  DOG BONE SOUP is a profound coming of age story you will not want to miss. I recommend it to every reader from pre-teen through adulthood.


13 thoughts on “Dog Bone Soup by Bette A. Stevens

  1. Dear Michelle,
    Thank you so much for reading DOG BONE SOUP, featuring it on your blog and writing this wonderful review. It is an honor and a privilege to be included among your reviews in BOOK CHAT. I would like to copy your actual review from the post and feature it on my blog if you don’t mind. I will link back to BOOK CHAT in the post.
    Happy reading, blogging and all of those other great things you do, my friend! ❤

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Bette, Thank you for your kind words. Of course, by all means, you may use my review. I am honored that you want to use it. Thank you so much.
      Hugs back to you.


  2. Thank you for such a thorough review, Michelle. I also enjoy how you spotlighted the author and what other reviewers thought of the book, which adds additional value to your own review. The title of the book got me first and then when I heard more about it I knew it’s one to read!

    Liked by 2 people

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