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Reviewed by Vincent Dublado for Readers' Favorite
The 'Great' Kickin' Dog: A Family Tree by Kenneth Allen Crutchfield, Sr. is a novel with its own beauty and dignity in exploring the life of a dysfunctional family. John Coleman is the main protagonist, an ex-musician, assembly line worker, and alcoholic. Don’t call him a loser yet. He tries his best to be a good provider. You might even think that he is the sanest member of his family when you get to know the members of his coop. His wife, Mary, is struggling to overcome her own neurosis. Together, they are raising a large family of four girls and two musically-inclined boys in the low-income housing unit of Chicago in the 1960s. The neighborhood is not exactly a conducive place to raise a family, as it is infested by drug-dealing, gun-toting gangs. But John is determined to make a better life for his family. As he battles with his alcoholism and copes with domestic challenges, a tragedy strikes that will test his mettle to the limits.
The ‘Great’ Kickin’ Dog is a tribute of intense passion to those lives fractured by marginalization and injustice. Its protagonist puts into action his heroism through his resolve to keep his family away from a corrosive society. Richly evocative, Kenneth Allen Crutchfield, Sr.’s characters blend well with the time period that they represent. It is a work of intense moral seriousness with a literary quality that might remind you of the works of James Baldwin. As the story is based on the author’s family, you get a stab of realism in the narrative artistry. It is supercharged with a good balance of humor and drama working together like a Yin and Yang to bring forth a storyline that transcends the consciousness of today’s racist world. This is the type of novel that I will not hesitate to recommend.