THE MOUNTAINTOP SCHOOL FOR DOGS
AND OTHER SECOND CHANCES

HOUGHTON MIFFLIN HARCOURT

When twenty-four year old Evie impulsively ventures to the mountaintop Sanctuary to learn to become a dog trainer, she’s proceeding under falsehoods, having lied on her application. She claimed to have experience with animals without explaining it was all from books, and she never mentioned the rehab program she’s just now coming out of. But she hadn’t known that the Sanctuary is a secret command center for a rescue network that engages in kidnappings of abused dogs, or that she’d be the only training-trainee they have.

Evie’s unique, vivid voice is a force of nature, and she meets her matches in the indomitable Mrs. Auberchon and other members of the staff, including a mysterious teenager named Giant George and an elderly golden retriever, Boomer, the Sanctuary’s butler.

At the heart of the novel are the wounded, healing dogs whose pasts, as Evie puts it, need to be erased like viruses on a computer: Tasha the Rottweiler, Alfie the greyhound, Shadow the hound mix, Dora the Scottie, Hank the lab/pit bull, Josie the yappy and deaf “small mix,” and Dapple the brood hound, whose rescue becomes Evie’s first kidnapping. These dogs meet all expectations as beautifully drawn, fully realized, unforgettable characters. And as Evie begins her new education, which often involves learning things about cruelty and inhumanity she will wish she doesn’t know, the real adventure of Mountaintop opens up and keeps on opening, charged with her anger, convictions, intelligence, humor, mistakes, and most of all, her alive-ness.
 

PRAISE & REVIEWS

• Indie Next Selection, August 2014
• People Pick, People Magazine
• Featured in “New and Noteworthy,” USA Today
• Featured in “New and Notable,” Amazon
• Cover feature, Advance Magazine (Ingram), August 2014
• Featured in Buzzing About Books, The Book Club Cookbook
 

“Cooney’s writing style is completely her own, lively, inventive, and fun to read. Do not miss this remarkable novel.”
—Indie Next
 

“Sure to captivate the reader… a charming novel about damaged souls looking for a forever home.”
—Shelf Awareness
 

“Could easily be a memoir of a person who reached the bottom and has been given the opportunity to work and fight her way back to daylight. In the end, it is a book about hope, how there is always a ray of hope.”
—Book Reporter
 

“Is there such a thing as a Rescue Book? Well, there is now. This is a miracle of a book. It’s even a spiritual handbook. And it is for readers young and old and all of the in-between. Cooney is such a wise genius of a writer, and her sentences keep surprising you, but are never the point in themselves. I read with a kind of mental breathlessness. If Cooney needs someone to convince her to write a sequel, I volunteer.”
—Gail Godwin
 

“A multitude of self-help and how-to books could never deliver what this brilliant novel accomplishes. Ellen Cooney understands love – love as in discovering and learning to accept the strengths and weaknesses of ourselves and others…Highly recommended.”
—Literary Aficionado
 

“Dog lovers rejoice! Cooney has crafted a feel-good, canine-filled tale of cross-generational friendship, healing, and solidarity.”
—Publishers Weekly
 

“A richly descriptive writing style…the metaphor of reaching the mountain for enlightenment holds true.”
—Story Circle Book Review
 

“Must-read…a moving and joyous romp…All the dogs are wonderfully, fully drawn characters. This is a brilliantly crafted, uplifting book.”
—The Bark
 

“Cooney’s latest novel is both a joyful romp and a thoughtful meditation. The author’s delicate touch with the pain and trauma endured by abused animals and her sensitive portrayal of dedicated rescuers send a powerful message. Love is a great teacher, and we are all a little unadoptable. Readers of Garth Stein and Carolyn Parkhurst will adore this title.”
—Library Journal
 

“As knowledgeable as she is about the world of dog rescue and rehabilitation, Cooney (Lambrusco, 2008) is equally empathic in her treatment of a scarred and scared young woman.”
—Booklist
 

“What Ellen Cooney captures so brilliantly here is the psychological and emotional similarities between dogs and people –the way both respond to trauma and pain, and the way love and kindness can heal even the deepest wounds. The Mountaintop School for Dogs is a celebration of the bond that has brought canines and humans together for thousands of years. This book will grab your heart and not let go.”
—John Grogan, author of Marley & Me: Life and Love With the World’s Worst Dog
 

“Dogs were bred by us to serve us in practical ways, but then dogs took it on themselves to serve us most profoundly by healing our broken hearts. Ellen Cooney understands this, and is the kind of keenly observational writer who can detail the path to healing only dogs can provide. A delightful read for all of us who can’t imagine life without dogs.”
—W. Bruce Cameron, author of A Dog’s Purpose and A Dog’s Journey
 

“A jubilant, wise celebration of love, reciprocal between human and canine, in ways profound, moving, and soul saving. Readers will long remember the central humans in this tale—Evie, Mrs. Auberchon, and Giant George—along with the exquisitely drawn cast of rescued dogs who, in their own delightful, mysterious, and silent ways, heal their rescuers’ wounds. Ellen Cooney has written a funny, joyous, and heartrending book that insists intelligence and kindness must win out over ignorance and cruelty. Exploring the human and canine hearts with equal doses of wisdom and wit, Mountaintop is surely a book to be read and reread, preferably with your dog nestled by your side.”
—Connie May Fowler, author of Remembering Blue
 

“The real genius of this story is in all the things it doesn’t tell you, all the things it assumes you already know—and turns out, you do!—which leaves much more space to be taken up by what really matters: the marvelous canines. Any dog-lover—any person-lover—will be moved (nearly to the point of slobbering) by this warm, funny, heart-expanding book.”
—Pam Houston, author of Sight Hound and Contents May Have Shifted
 

“What if James Herriot had written The Shining, but starring Bridget Jones? These pages are that much fun, and that harrowing, and that sweetly tender. Dog by dog by dog by Evie, the star-crossed protagonist, practically a stray herself, we come to understand that we’re all a little bit un-adoptable, a little bit misused, and ready for sure for some loving kindness, the kind that surpasseth understanding, and that only dog can give.”
—Bill Roorbach, author of Life Among Giants and Writing Life Stories
 

“A wise, engaging meditation on dogs, love, and recovery from pain. Come. Sit. Read!”
—Lily King, author of The Pleasing Hour and Father Of The Rain
 

“A young woman who knows she’s lost, and an older one who doesn’t think she is, meet a slew of castaway dogs at a snowy mountaintop sanctuary, and discover what they didn’t even know they were looking for. A charming novel about overcoming the past and finding meaning and purpose in the present.
—Susan Richards, author of Chosen By A Horse