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My Gentle Barn: Creating a Sanctuary Where Animals Heal and Children Learn to Hope

4.44  ·  Rating details ·  950 ratings  ·  213 reviews
Founder Ellie Laks started The Gentle Barn after adopting a sick goat from a run-down petting zoo in 1999. Some two hundred animals later (including chickens, horses, pigs, cows, rabbits, emus, and more), The Gentle Barn has become an extraordinary nonprofit that brings together a volunteer staff of community members and at-risk teens to rehabilitate abandoned and/or abuse ...more
Hardcover, 269 pages
Published March 25th 2014 by Harmony (first published January 1st 2014)
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Average rating 4.44  · 
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Melissa ♥ Dog/Wolf Lover ♥ Martin

Nov 03, 2016 rated it really liked it
Recommended to Margie by: Linda
Shelves: memoir, animals
My Gentle Barn is the uplifting story of one woman's compassion for abandoned and abused animals and her passionate journey to rescue them. Ellie Laks started out with one goat which she rescued from a petting zoo and has gone on to rescue hundreds of animals over the years. Her "Gentle Barn" houses the rehabilitated animals on her acreage and barn in Santa Clarita, California. Not only are the animals rescued and rehabilitated, they provide comfort and hope for the future for the many groups of ...more
Apr 04, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I'm not sure how long I've been a Facebook fan of The Gentle Barn, but I am sure I always love reading the stories, enjoying the pictures, and recalling the mission of the organization, so when Amazon Vine offered me a pre-publication review copy of this book, with my interests in animal welfare, rescue, and critters in general, I had to order it. Gentle Barn founder Elllie Laks and either "as told to" or "with" co-author Nom Isak have told the long, winding, exciting story perfectly.

Part of Ge
Mar 13, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: memoir, animal-rescue
Like Ellie Laks, I had a troubled childhood (not nearly as troubled as hers, but nonetheless ...). Also like Ellie Laks, I felt as though animals were the only ones who really understood me, and who wanted to listen. Many a secret was whispered into the ear of the family cat.

In any event, Ellie Laks knows early on in life that her mission is to rescue animals. She puts that mission on the shelf many times before starting the Gentle Barn ... at which time she discovers whole new challenges and wh
Eli Easton
Mar 09, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I read this book as research because I'm currently writing a book that features a farm sanctuary. I don't read much non-fiction, but this book drew me in from the start and keep me hooked. There are lots of stories of animal rescues in the book, many of which had me wiping away tears. But I wouldn't say its a sad or difficult book. There's also an overriding message of following your dreams and saying yes to compassion and pity, and of animals responding to love and freedom, of the meaning of li ...more
Apr 20, 2021 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is the story of the author’s lifelong connection to animals which culminated in her founding the Gentle Barn, an animal sanctuary that offers a permanent home to a wide variety of hard-to-place large animals—as well as unique outreach to troubled young people.

Some stories are a little too tidy and some of the spiritual asides are a little too woo-woo for my tastes, but overall, MY GENTLE BARN is a compulsively readable book that will appeal to all animal-loving audiences, rather than just
Jan 14, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: first-reads
I received this book as a First Reads winner.

I finished this book yesterday afternoon and have really been giving quite a bit of thought to this review. I wanted to "LOVE" this book but for some reason it just didn't hit that mark for me.

To sum it up in one word, I guess the best I can come up with is "shallow". I couldn't really find anything that grabbed my curiosity or prompted deeper thought. On the other hand,the only other area that would have been interesting to hear more about would be
Feb 04, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I LOVED this Book !!! This is an Amazing true Story of a dream of a young girl who through her loneliness as a child sought out on a mission to help heal animals. Through caring for the animals she finds healing for herself...
I admire her conviction and strong heart to make a difference in Animals lives and in caring to help and heal children in need.
This story took me on a roller coaster of emotions... I had tears of sadness for some of the animal abuse and neglect that Ellie saw and treated at
Mar 11, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Everyone, Animal Lovers
Recommended to Shea by: Won through GoodReads New Author Giveaway
Shelves: nonfiction

Like Ellie, I have always had a passion for animals. I feel a completeness when they are near. I'd rather snuggle a furry little puppy than smell a baby-powder infused infant. The story captured me from the start with her personal story of abuse, and kept me going with the stories of the suffering of the animals she encountered.

I was touched by the support of the celebrities mentioned in the book and in awe of the generosity of so many. The "Gentle Barn" is truly a blessing, as J
Nov 15, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
I enjoyed this book. It took me by surprise because I liked it so much more than I expected.

First, the Gentle Barn does amazing work in animal rescue. I enjoyed hearing all about it and the animals. Because I was so impressed with the Gentle Barn, I started following them on FB.

Second, it didn't bother me that the author only showed herself in the best possible light. That kind of thing bothers me in autobiographies, but in this case, it barely registered with me. This was really a book about
Marjorie Hodges
Jul 31, 2020 rated it liked it
It is great to know there are still kind people in the world.
Jun 20, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audio-books

My Gentle Barn, a memoir, tells the story of Ellie Laks’ troubled childhood, feeling misunderstood and abandoned by her Jewish Orthodox parents and sexual abused by baby sitters. She relates that her early love of animals, to which she turned to for solace, helped to heal her emotional pain. From an early age Ellie had a dream to rescue neglected and abandoned animals. She wanted other troubled children to have a place to go where animals could help to heal their hurts.

According to the author, t
Lauren Henderson
I received this book for free from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for my honest opinion.

Review also posted on Great Minds Read Alike.

I'm not even sure what I was expecting when I started reading this book - I guess I thought it would be something that only farm animal lovers would identify with... just a Yay Animals!! happy story about saving the world.

But in these pages is one of the most inspiring and beautiful stories that I have ever read. There is story after story of individual a
Apr 14, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Ellie Laks-Wiener has been blessed with the ability to heal the physical and emotional traumas experienced by both animals and young people. Her life-affirming energy resonates throughout this memoir. Her ability to handle disheartening experiences is awe-inspiring. She is a miracle worker whose stories need to be read and retold to make people aware of the abuse experienced by children and animals and to give people the hope and willpower to fight against that abuse. Ellie describes her own abu ...more
Feb 02, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: first-reads
Full disclosure: I received a free copy in a Goodreads first reads contest.

I'll admit at first I wasn't sure what to think about this book. I work in mental health and all I can remember thinking at first is 'this gal needs therapy'. As things went on, I realized she was getting therapy. Doing it herself, through her work with and love of animals. I'm a huge advocate of animal therapy, especially for children and teens. I too have had the privilege of seeing a teen who glares at the world open u
Florence Millo
Dec 15, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: biography
My Gentle Barn by Ellie Laks

It is hard to believe that someone who had been molested and neglected as a child could become such a caring and compassionate person. Perhaps, it is because as she says, the animals saved her. This book is about her healing neglected and abused animals as they heal her own neglected and abused spirit.

The thought of animal abuse is so abhorrent to me that I almost didn't read this book. While there is no glossing over the neglect and abuse the animals came out of, El
Pamela Barrett
Apr 05, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Do you love animals? Have you ever felt that you have a special bond with them? If the answer is yes then you will want to read Ellie Laks’ memoir My Gentle Barn. It is about rescuing animals, and healing them and then letting them help bring hope to children that are hurting. The story is so enthralling that I starting reading it one evening and finished it the next day. I remember finding out about The Gentle Barn on FB through other rescue pages. I loved seeing the pictures of the animals and ...more
Jennifer Ochoa
Feb 04, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2014
I expected this book to be one of my casual weekend morning books that I read for about 20 pages while drinking coffee before I start housework. I started reading it this morning and next thing I know I was on page 150 and really wanted to keep reading. My housework would have to wait. I had laughed several times, cried several times, and was only about halfway through the book.

I was expecting a charming tale, and I got that, but I was not expecting to be completely sucked in like I was. I had
Feb 07, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Ellie Laks knew from the time she was a young girl, that she got along better with animals. Whether it was rescuing birds, rabbits, or being covered in butterflies, animals were her sanctuary. Growing up her family did not condone her behavior nor was it welcomed. As Ellie got older, she started rescuing stray dogs and eventually built a successful dog rescue business. When she met her husband and finally had a child, Ellie felt it was time to focus on her human family. Not much time went by whe ...more
Feb 28, 2014 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: Adult & Teenagers; animal activists, childhood counselors & teachers
Recommended to Jana by: I won a copy in Good Reads Sweepstake
Shelves: biographies
I could not put down Ellie Laks' book until I read it cover to cover. A warm, rich, easy-to-read work of art. I laughed and cried, touched by the love of human beings for animals, the suffering perpetuated on this kingdom by others, and the amazing ability for both animals and humans to heal. "My Gentle Barn: Creating a Sanctuary Where Animals Heal and Children Learn to Hope" is written by Ellie in the first-person, and offers the reader the opportunity to walk with her on a very personal journe ...more
Rachel León
I received a copy of this book as a First Reads winner.

This book tells the author's story of how she came to found the Gentle Barn, an animal sanctuary in California. What's cool about the Gentle Barn is they bring in groups of foster children or kids from residential treatment programs and meeting the animals and hearing their stories helps break down walls they've put up from all the hurt they've experienced. As someone who works in child welfare, I found these stories fascinating. I found El
Mar 19, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
I was fortunate to win this book via the giveaway, One of my favorites!! The words flowed effortlessly and moved me with every line. Her story is one of hope courage and love. She didn't take no for an answer and created a beautiful safe haven for creatures no else wanted, while sharing it with people who also needed healing. I would love to visit the Gentle Barn one day. This is a must read for people who love animals and just anyone in general. In my eyes this is also a sort of self-help book, ...more
Jan 18, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Made me laugh, made me cry...

I found out something about the Gentle Barn on Facebook, and started following and contributing as I could. Reading Ellie's full story made so much sense and helped me know that the animals of this work are worth more of my time and effort. Thank you, Ellie and Jay.
Meredith Spidel
Oct 17, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I had never heard of The Gentle Barn before, but am now understanding what a tremendous movement Laks has started. Through her endless compassion towards animals, the hope packed into every page of this book is inspiring.
MyCatJeoffry Books
Apr 06, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This book came out a few years ago but I just listened to the audio version and have to make readers aware of it if you are not already! It’s a memoir, by Gentle Barn founder Ellie Laks, detailing her long journey to forming this wonderful sanctuary, which both serves as a haven for animals rescued from slaughter and enables at-risk youth to heal by caring for them.

Laks starts with her own childhood, which was not very pleasant, and made her just the kind of at-risk youth she seeks now to help.
K Krause
Jan 03, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I read this book after having visited The Gentle Barn in Santa Clarita, CA, so I could clearly picture the faces of some of the animals Ellie writes about in this poignant memoir about her life and vision of saving and rehabilitating abused or abandoned animals.

Most of us do not understand where most of our food comes from, but when you sit and hold a turkey, or hug a cow, or scratch a pig under his chin, there's no way you can separate what goes on your plate with an animal you were just eye-t
Jun 14, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book was great & also heart wrenching. I was surprised to read the issues she had as a child & the abuse she endured which I wasn't expecting. The lack of support from her family was pretty problematic as well. All the struggles she went through even as an adult is commendable by how she got through it helping animals. To have so much passion & vision to create this animal sanctuary & the hurdles she went through in order to make it successful was amazing. There are so many ups & downs that ...more
Lauren Blankenship
Oct 14, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: audiobooks
The story of Ellie's own healing by animals due to suffered childhood trama (trigger warning: brief, accounts of sexual assault, but not in too much detail) and how her love of animals led her to open what ends up being a successful and thriving animal sanctuary in California. I cried with her in her struggles and in the animal's suffering, but my heart swelled with love as the inevitable healing of kindness unfolded. Ellie is truly a treasure to this earth and in this book, the animals heal peo ...more
Monika Bozickovic
This book is beautiful. From the very first sentence to the very last. What a beautiful story about a woman who is compassionate, brave, and refuses to settle in life. Ellie Laks is the epitome of a good-hearted human. I was lucky enough to visit The Gentle Barn (Missouri location) last weekend and experience what felt like genuine healing with the beautiful animals housed there. I’m so grateful that Ellie was willing to be so vulnerable and open with her experiences. My favorite part of the boo ...more
Feb 05, 2018 rated it liked it
Three-line review: After growing up in a family of neglect, Laks sets out to realize her dream of founding an animal sanctuary that helps both farm animals and those who come in contact with them. As an animal lover, my heart goes out to the abused and neglected animals she has saved over the years, and I am appreciative of the efforts she has taken to make this world a better place. That said, while this is a well-written book about a noble cause, I found some of her tendencies — such as her at ...more
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