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Church of the Dog: A Novel

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3.89 of 5 stars 3.89  ·  rating details  ·  371 ratings  ·  96 reviews
Unabridged CDs ? 6 CDs, 7 1/2 hours

An unforgettable debut novel about finding a home, a safe haven, and family.

Audio CD, 8 pages
Published April 30th 2009 by Penguin Audio (first published March 2001)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 630)
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Betsy Ashton
Some books bring tears to your eyes when you finish them. Some bring tears because you finish them. The rare books bring tears for both reasons. Church of the Dog is one of the rare books.

Told from multiple perspectives, this is a story of wonder and mystery, wonder over the events of life, mystery because events have a way of producing unintended consequences. Deep in Oregon farm country lies a farm owned by Earl and Edith. Cattle and sadness are the two main "crops." Earl and Edith face anothe
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Amy Newburn
I LOVED this book!! The only thing keeping me from giving it five stars is the ending. I'm not crazy about the ending. It seemed a little rushed and awkward to me. But the whole rest of the book was amazing.

Very easy to read. The author switches between four different perspectives in short sections. I never found myself questioning which character was speaking because they each has such distinct ways of speaking.

I read a lot of books and this is one that truly stands out to me. I want to pas
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Ivy
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Laurie
This is a weird book that I completely loved. I love characters who are rich, who grow, who contribute in redemptive ways to society and this book was like eating a box of candy to me. Just loved it. Only one friend read it on my recommendation and she thought I was weird too, I think. But I stand by this writer as having created a very lovable story.
C. Janet Austin
Aug 07, 2010 C. Janet Austin rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: everyone!
This is a wonderful read... it was for me anyway... a very tender story about relationships & beliefs... which are presented openly & honestly throughout the book... none of them are what you usually hear or 'are supposed to hear' but instead are real genuine emotions from real & honest people.

It is Kaya's first book so I guess I am after 'the story' rather that Pulitzer material... i felt that she conveyed her story well... sure there might be a couple of holes or seemingly unbeliev
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Terra
Church of the Dog by Kaya McLaren is a very precious emotional read. This would be a book that would be fantastic for a readers group to read, discuss and delve into all the emotional, cultural and spiritual aspects of our lives. Make sure to have a very large box of tissues as you will most certainly need them.

Earl and Edith McRae are the perfect example of commitment, love, family, friendship and all the wonderful and not so wonderful things that come with a life long relationship and marriage
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Sam
I may feel differently about this in a few weeks, but having just finished it, I am very moved by it. It's got a little bit of the mystical "travellers on other planes" that was in the author's On The Divinity of Second Chances, but it's balanced by some of the other characters' reactions to same.

And it has *this* great line: "Ministers remind me of used car salesmen. I believe religion is what happens when ego contaminates spirituality....God lives in our hearts. God speaks to us in our hearts
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Kristin
It's been awhile since I plain enjoyed a book like this one. I would put it in the same genre as "Secret Lives of Bees" or "Poisonwood Bible," I think.

I thoroughly enjoyed "Church of the Dog" because I love stories where...

The characters tell the story from their own points of view,

Women are strong and interesting (as Mara and Edith are),

Nature is celebrated, even if it's ugly sometimes,

They make me think about living with intention and trying to better the lives of the people around me, and

Th
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Mom
Oct 24, 2008 Mom added it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: everyone
Recommended to Mom by: no one
A wonderfully rich story of a young woman with abilities to see the future, the past and the energy of others. Teaching art, living on the farm of an aging couple and building her own sanctuary of light and truth. She touches the lives of others in beautiful gentle ways, and receives the gifts of her experience with others as lessons on how to live life.
The story is filled with wonderful stories of love, acceptance, doubt and triumph over fear and hurt.
You will love the characters and love the m
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Trina
I Looooved this book!! It was written by a family friend so I read it for her. But it turned out to be an amazing book all on it's own. I just loved the characters and the magical quality of the story.

There were a couple of spots that were based on my Grandma and some quotes from her that made it into the book so it makes it that much more special for me :)

This is a book that I'll probably read a couple of times because it's just that enjoyable
Jamie
This book was sweet and innocent, but I thought the author's portrayal of the protagonist was somewhat narcissistic. I had an better opinion of the book until I flipped my copy topside down and realized that the author's photo matched in every way her description of the magic-endowed main character Mara. I read it again, and this observation colored my read of the book very differently.
Kathy
This book is too beautiful for words. I borrowed it from the library but I'm going to buy myself a copy to read over and over again. Maybe it was just the book I needed at this time in my life, I recently lost my sister and my Dad, but for me it was perfection. Rachel, You have to read this!
Karla
The title of the book was the first draw. The second was that it was written by a Northwest writer. I found it easy to read and there were parts of it that made me say HMMMMM, but most of it seemed like a slightly fictionalized version of the author's life, an expensive diary of sorts.
Jo Dunn
Feb 02, 2013 Jo Dunn rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Jo by: Jamie Ford - via his list of Seattle (WA) authors.
I'm very glad I used the audio book format to "read" Kaya McLaren's Church of the Dog. The narration aspect allowed me to follow the story line and character development with ease. I quickly became attached to the various voices and, by the time the final page was read, I felt a sense of kinship with each and every one.

This is a book about life, loss, love, belief systems and family - with more than a bit of "free-spirit(edness)" tossed into the mix. I didn't come across a single "ho-hum" momen
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Kelly
Church of the Dog is a story about relationships. It follows four narrators in a small town in Oregon: Mara, a red-headed, free-thinking, hippie-dippy art teacher; Edith, an aging wife and grandmother; Earl, Edith's closed-lipped husband and ranch owner; and Daniel, Edith and Earl's grandson. There isn't much plot in this novel. The basic story is that Mara moves to Oregon to start a new job, where she buys a hog as soon as she gets into town to save it from slaughter (she's a vegetarian) and th ...more
Lorraine
Deals with themes of death, family, dreams, deal with conflict, God.
Not as good as On the Divinity of Second Chances by the same author, but that's possibly to her credit, since Church of the Dog was written first. This book also has multiple narrators, though the effect was not as strong. More of a literary crutch than asset here. A non-traditional easy to read book, except for the parts that made me cry because they hit a personal note (they are sad in their own right, too). A new "plot twist"
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Ozimandias
I read this book on the heels of Alice Sebold's 'The Lovely Bones'. Without any real intention, I managed to pick two books about dealing with grief, with some spirituality thrown in. Must be that spiritual realm trying to tell me something. In this book, we find a new-age, itinerant artist named Mara trying to find a home. She ends up in Oregon on a ranch in a small town that is full of people who are loving and helpful. Her free-spirit lifestyle (I mean free spirit literally as she drifts from ...more
Sarah Sammis
Imagine if Pollyanna grew up, became an art teacher an moved to a ranch run by an elderly couple. That's the gist of Church of the Dog by Kaya McLaren.

Set in Oregon farm country, Church of the Dog follows the lives of Edith, Earl, their grandson Daniel and their mysterious guest Mara O'Shaunnessey who can astral project herself into dreams and sometimes heaven. The novel is told in the voices of the four main characters, though it later settles on just Daniel and Mara.

The chapters are divided u
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Deb W
Nov 08, 2014 Deb W rated it 4 of 5 stars
Shelves: zune
I loved this book. Earl reminded me of my grandpa, Edna was the lady that lived across the street from us who watched me while my folks worked in their store. Mara is a girl I went to high school with. And Daniel -- the boy every girl wishes was next door. I loved each of them and embraced them as if they were MY family. I didn't want the story to end.
Pjbray
Again, story weaving and frame of reference are splendid. I love this author's approach in this book and On the Divinity of Second Chances.
Rox
Forgot how much I love this book! It's a short sweet read that leaves you crying sometimes, yet uplifted. One of my faves!
Melissa
I couldn't quite put my finger on what was bugging me about this book. I knew I'd finish it, but found the endless question asking by the character Mara a little wearing. I was interested enough in the characters to keep with it and was curious to see where this first-time author would go with it. I was also surprised to find a few typos and one section in which the voice of another character, Earl, was out of character, given that this is a reworked edition that was issued by another publisher ...more
Mark Schofer
I put this book down years ago and recently picked it and found it great.
Some great Vegan tie ins.
Junkie for the Written Word
I started out hating this book.... In the first few chapters I wanted nothing more than to tear the pages out, bundle them with some white sage, and use the smoke to cleanse my space of it's aura. Seriously though it was very new agey... even for me.

However, as the book progresses it gets better. Some of the ideas are very comforting and it probably would be solace to someone who has recently lost a loved one.

Also, it was short. So even though it wasn't the best book in the world it didn't mak
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Linda
Nov 08, 2008 Linda rated it 2 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Linda by: Carol M.
Hmm. Very different. The Church of the Dog refers to an old bunk house that the main character moves into on the property of an elderly couple. To spruce it up she installs a stained glass window on the front door and she paints a side of the house with a large dog. This is the story of how her moving here brings the old couple back together. I did appreciate the relationship between the main character, Mara, and the elderly woman, Edith.
Cari
A good writer is invisible in her story, but while reading Church, I was aware of the author (and her agenda) the entire time. I couldn't stand the way she shoved her political rants onto readers by poorly disguising them in long, unnatural, lecturing monologues by some of her characters. That and the stupid, new agey mysticism ruined this book for me.
Elisa
Mar 16, 2008 Elisa rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: lovers of community
Recommended to Elisa by: Publisher

wonderful! Deals with death, pain, redemption, mystery, Faith. I really enjoyed it. It shows how community and relationships can grow and change and die and all the messiness and beauty that comes with each of these processes. I put off reading this book for months, and am not sure why I did. Once I picked it up, I couldn't stop.
Pj
Aug 29, 2013 Pj rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: all of my friends
I saw this as a realistic look at the lives and loves of a few people of different ages coming together in peaceful understanding. The author conveys the agitation and soul-searching of younger generations and the calmer more experienced views of the older set. Both have ageless love as a common bond and that message is sewn throughout this story.
Ann G
rushed incomplete ending.
Lynne
Mixed feelings about this book. It was all over the place with numerous themes and issues--mysticism, meaning of death, childlessness, child abuse, grief over loss of parents and children, etc. She explores many of them but leaves much unresolved. I feel I am left hanging. Still, it was well-written and there was much that I liked
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My fourth novel, THE FIRELIGHT GIRLS will be released October 28, 2014. HOW I CAME TO SPARKLE AGAIN (2012), ON THE DIVINITY OF SECOND CHANCES (2009), and CHURCH OF THE DOG (2008)are my other three. I'm currently writing THE DE VINE WINERY AND GOAT RANCH.

In addition to being an author, I've been an archaeologist, a massage therapist, an art teacher, an elementary teacher.

When I'm not working, I lo
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More about Kaya McLaren...
How I Came to Sparkle Again On the Divinity of Second Chances The Firelight Girls Goodnight, Little One

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“People like to say that time heals all wounds, but I don't believe it. I remember once Grandpa took me firewood cutting, and as we looked at the rings of the tree together, he pointed out the years where there was drought and the years where there was fire. So while time allowed for new growth that hid the scars of the past, those scars were still there, inside the tree, and part of the tree. I think about how I am like that tree.” 3 likes
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