My Gentle Barn: where animals heal and children learn to hope by Ellie Laks

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My Gentle Barn: where animals heal and children learn to hope by Ellie Laks

Laks Gentle.jpg
Buy My Gentle Barn: where animals heal and children learn to hope by Ellie Laks at Amazon.co.uk or Amazon.com

Category: Autobiography
Rating: 4.5/5
Reviewer: Sue Magee
Reviewed by Sue Magee
Summary: It started with abuse but it's as far from a misery memoir as it's possible to get. Excellent reading and animals and people to fall in love with. Highly recommended.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 368 Date: July 2014
Publisher: Arrow
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 978-0099584889

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As a child Ellie Laks was abused, but not only did she suffer at the hands of her abuser, she also had to endure parental indifference to what was happening to her. Her only relief came through animals - and even then she had to cope when the animals were taken from her. As an adult she discovered that she had a real talent for healing animals - and that they helped her to heal too. In a brilliant leap of intuition she realised that if the animals could help her to heal they could do the same for others and so the Gentle Barn was born - a place where animals were brought as a place of safety and where disadvantaged children and special needs groups could use as therapy.

If you're thinking misery memoir, forget it. Laks is forthright about what happened to her but she doesn't dwell on it. It was the inspiration, the spark for the Gentle Barn, if you like, but she doesn't carry it around with her as a burden and it's a point of reference which helps her to empathise with the children she meets at the Barn. The aim - as far as possible - is to heal and rehabilitate the animals to good homes but sometimes this simply isn't possible and a lot of the animals become permanent residents.

Many animal rescue centres restrict themselves to one species but the Gentle Barn is more wide ranging, taking horses, cattle, pigs, sheep, goats and poultry for the most part and visitors are taught how to recognise what the animal needs from them and when contact is unwelcome - but they're encouraged to interact with the animals. Some of it is for fundraising (running this sort of organisation does not come cheap) and at times Laks and her husband Jay have faced near bankruptcy and a devastating fire as well as the stresses of keeping Gentle Barn and their family going.

Some of the content is heart-breaking - I cried on more than one occasion - but it's a real page turner. I simply had to find out what happened next. A brilliant inclusion is full colour photographs of the people and the animals - would that all books went down this road rather than the grey images which you struggle to make any meaning of.

I'd like to thank the publishers for sending a copy to the Bookbag.

Also springing from California is The Puppy Express: On the road with 25 rescue dogs . . . what could go wrong? by David Rosenfelt. If you enjoy one you'll love the other.

Buy My Gentle Barn: where animals heal and children learn to hope by Ellie Laks at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy My Gentle Barn: where animals heal and children learn to hope by Ellie Laks at Amazon.co.uk


Buy My Gentle Barn: where animals heal and children learn to hope by Ellie Laks at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy My Gentle Barn: where animals heal and children learn to hope by Ellie Laks at Amazon.com.

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