Church of the Dog: An Inspirational Novel About Living Life by Kaya McLaren
Don’t judge Church of the Dog by its cover or title. It has little to do with churches but much to do with spirituality. It does have a lot to do with dogs, but only as loving companions and not objects of worship. It is about the search for self and the acceptance of self. And it is about taking a chance to find satisfaction in life.
The 208 pages of the novel section of Church of the Dog, published by Penguin Books, is told from the perspective of four characters: a young female school art teacher who is emotionally lost and afraid, a young man who has run from his past, and an elderly man and wife who operate a working ranch with their cattle dog. It sounds like an odd group of people to narrate this novel, but each character is seeking something that is missing in their life; each character is surviving their days but not truly living.
The title, Church of the Dog, actually comes about when the young art teacher moves into the ranch hand cabin of the elderly couple in exchange for fixing up the structure and helping repair fences. Her artistic nature and talent with stained glass turn the building into something beautiful. On the side of an old storage building, she paints a mural of a dog she saw in her dream and, magically, the dog appears a few days later in the middle of a severe storm, asking to come in from the rain. The elderly couple begin to call her stained glass windowed modified ranch hand cabin “the Church of the Dog” because of the resemblance of the windows to those of a classical church, although the subject matter is not religious.
As this delightful novel progresses, each character is impacted by the life of every other character, leading each character to address their baggage, grow, become more spiritual, and become loving friends and neighbors to one another. The beauty of the story is the how, when, and why of this growth which you’ll have to experience for yourself.
There are moments in Church of the Dog where you will wish to cry, moments where your heart will soar, and moments when you will see yourself in the pages of the book. It is a novel that is well worth reading and one that I am certain I will enjoy reading again in the future.
I sat down to read this novel a bit prejudiced by the title, thinking I would read a few pages before falling asleep for the night. Instead, I read the book cover to cover nonstop, only taking a short break to prepare a snack. Of course, I am a rapid reader and you might find you need a few sessions to read the entire book, but I assure you that you will not want to set it down except when you absolutely must in order to take care of life duties.
I recommend this book to absolutely anyone and everyone. It is great for anyone who is spiritual. There is nothing to offend those who are traditionally religious. It is a guide to those who are seeking how to put the past behind them and those who want to reduce the amount of heavy baggage they carry every day. It is a help to those wishing to take chances by seeking new adventures but are fearful of so doing. It would make a lovely gift for anyone from mid-teens upward of either gender.
Don’t miss out on the pleasure of devouring the pages of Church of the Dog. An unusual point about this book is the fact that Kaya McLaren placed the Introduction at the end of the book, followed by a conversation on how she came to write the book and her own love of dogs, and finally a section of discussion points, making this a great choice for a face-to-face book club selection. You are certain to love this delightful, engaging novel from cover to cover.
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