Candy is a tough-talking California teen with a rough home life. A sarcastic stranger, Carlos, arrives to stay with the janitor's family in Candy's apartment building, forcing her back to the land of the living. Bear is a sweet-tempered giant of a dog, once a beloved family pet, now a junkyard dog--renamed Big and Bad--who finds himself sold to a fighting ring.
Candy's romance with Carlos provides a sweet counterpoint to the chaos she faces every day. Candy is directionless, but Carlos' ambition and determination inspire her, and his aunt and cousins give Candy a taste of normal family life her father can't provide.
Candy's and Bear's stories intertwine only incidentally, until Candy is forced to realize that her once beloved father is not only incapable of caring for her, but is involved in the hideous business of dog fighting. Unable to rely on anyone around her, Candy faces the truth and does her best to rescue the big dog she once delivered into evil hands.
"So utterly engrossing, so powerfully told is Big and Bad, Anna Scotti's recent young adult novel, that I read it in a single sitting. Her protagonists, Bear and Candy (one canine, one human), are true underdogs, doing their best to navigate an uncertain, frequently cruel world. Scotti has a gift for complexity; her characters are alive on the page, recognizably flawed and sympathetic at once. The book is also a page turner, deftly plotted and expertly paced. As if that wasn't achievement enough, Scotti has made Big and Bad a compassionate, searching inquiry into both a human's and a dog's need for home, belonging, and kindness."
"Big and Bad is an achingly bittersweet and pure novella about the hurt and wonder, the pain and joy of life. I often read sections of this just before I started working each night, because I felt as though it made me a better writer. Anna Scotti writes fiction like the poet she is."