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Reviewed by Lesley Jones for Readers' Favorite
In Dakota and the American Dream by Sameer Garach, as ten-year-old Dakota is spending the day in the park with his mother, he suddenly spots a Greenback Squirrel rushing past him with his Fitbit. Dakota's curiosity leads him to follow the squirrel into a hole in a tree and enter a weird world where nothing is as it first seems. He soon realizes that the Greenback Squirrel is not the only animal that can talk as he stumbles across the Creature Company and soon finds himself in the strange position of being interviewed for a job. As Dakota tries to make sense of this peculiar place called the New World, he learns the rules of the Blame Game and the Rat Race. Dakota makes the acquaintance of many characters, including a Black Rat who faces discrimination because of the color of his fur, a Jenny who has issues with her body image, and an 800-pound Gorilla. As Dakota spends more time in the Creature Company, he learns more about what the American Dream means: the ego, the fear of losing your job for no reason, the fight for survival when you are the wrong gender or age, and what happiness truly means.
What stands out most of all about this very intelligently written book is the descriptive narrative. The author writes beautifully, which makes all of your senses come to life. The characters are unique and diverse, and their dialogue really showcases their personalities, especially the Black Rat. There are some wonderful comedy moments throughout, my favorite being the scene by the Looking Glass between Jenny and Dakota, but when you stop laughing, you realize that a very important message has been subtly threaded into the scene. The entire book highlights the ridiculous rules of the corporate workplace and the office politics that either hold people back or propel them into managerial positions according to how 'they play the game'. There are so many messages throughout Dakota and the American Dream by Sameer Garach that will make you ponder on the real meaning of success, happiness and being true to yourself. Highly recommended.