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The Dog Who Was There, by Ron Marasco
During first century Jerusalem, Barley is a dog who lives in the home of a compassionate woodcarver and his wife, who rescued him when he was abandoned as a puppy. Through his eyes, the story of Jesus comes alive as never before.
Number of Pages: 336
Vendor: Thomas Nelson
Publication Date: 2017
|Dimensions: 8.40 X 5.50 (inches)|
No one expected Barley to have an encounter with the Messiah. He was homeless, hungry, and struggling to survive in first century Jerusalem. Most surprisingly, he was a dog. But through Barleys eyes, the story of a teacher from Galilee comes alive in a way weve never experienced before.
Barleys story begins in the home of a compassionate woodcarver and his wife who find Barley as an abandoned, nearly-drowned pup. Tales of a special teacher from Galilee are reaching their tiny village, but when life suddenly changes again for Barley, he carries the lessons of forgiveness and love out of the woodcarvers home and through the dangerous roads of Roman-occupied Judea.
On the outskirts of Jerusalem, Barley meets a homeless man and petty criminal named Samid. Together, Barley and his unlikely new master experience fresh struggles and new revelations. Soon Barley is swept up into the current of history, culminating in an unforgettable encounter with the truest master of all as he bears witness to the greatest story ever told.
Ron Marasco is a professor in the College of Communication and Fine Arts at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles. His first book, Notes to an Actor, was named by the American Library Association an Outstanding Book of 2008. His second book, About Grief, has been translated into multiple languages, and he is currently completing a book on Shakespeares sonnets. He has acted extensively on TVfrom Lost to West Wing to Entourage to originating the role of Mr. Casper on Freaks and Geeksand appeared opposite screen legend Kirk Douglas in the movie Illusion, for which he also wrote the screenplay. Most recently, he has played the recurring role of Judge Grove on Major Crimes. He has a BA from Fordham at Lincoln Center and an MA and Ph. D. from UCLA.
Through the touching tale of a stray dog who witnesses the ministry of Jesus, Marascos (Notes to an Actor; About Grief ) first novel offers an unusual perspective on Christianitys beginnings.
Barley, the main character of this novel, is a sweet and loyal companion who readers will love it is a good story with a twist at the end that readers may not see coming. It is worth the read for anyone looking for a new take on the common life during the time of Christ.
'. . . this novel delivers a completely original impression and narration of the most familiar and greatest of all stories. From the pups perspective one learns a new understanding of terms like friendship and joy, but also of terror, ugliness, and betrayal. Though the book is imbued with a subtle and appealing spirituality, it doesnt overwhelm. . . Children will love and be inspired by Barleys story, as will their parents and grandparents regardless of religion, or no religion. Readers will smile, occasionally laugh, and surely cry, but come away uplifted by this immensely moving little book. Highly recommended.
cheryl2 Stars Out Of 5New RevelationsMay 18, 2017cherylQuality: 3Value: 3Meets Expectations: 3I have to be honest, books written about dogs does not really interest me. I think the story of the crucifixion through the eyes of Barley down plays the seriousness of what Jesus did for us. I received this book from The Fiction Guild and was required to give an honest review.
Anna MaeAge: Over 65Gender: Female5 Stars Out Of 5The Dog Who Was There by Ron MarascoMay 18, 2017Anna MaeAge: Over 65Gender: FemaleQuality: 0Value: 5Meets Expectations: 5I've never read a book from a dog's perspective, much less one written about the life and times around first century Roman controlled Jerusalem in Jesus' day. I guess I never thought that people had pets that long ago. I happen to be a dog lover and know how smart, lovable and loyal dogs can be. Barley was just that kind of dog and his message to my heart was an inspiring one. He had good masters and bad masters. He experienced love and cruelty in his little life. Roman rule over Jerusalem in the first century exhibited much violence.
Barley knew cruelty as a pup and the struggle just to stay alive. He also knew love and through his travels he witnessed the Kind Man (Jesus) who loved the world and died for the sins of the whole world and his personal perception was insightful. He learned how love and forgiveness changes even the most sinful and cruel.
Pick this book up and read it for yourself. One of the best books I have read in a long time and so different. It has a great message for any era. I loved it.!
I am so grateful to Fiction Guild for this book.
tumcsecTuscaloosa, ALAge: 55-65Gender: female5 Stars Out Of 5wonderful, thought provokingMay 2, 2017tumcsecTuscaloosa, ALAge: 55-65Gender: femaleQuality: 5Value: 5Meets Expectations: 5This was a very different book from any I've ever read. Before I read it I thought it was going to be "cartoony" from the title but it was far from that. It begins with Barley as a puppy. Goes through his experiences just trying to survive in first century Roman occupied Jerusalem. He learns about humans, some nice, some downright cruel. Some days it's just a matter of surviving. He also sees a very special man with kind eyes (Jesus). Barley calls him Kind Man. He witnesses the meanness and cruelty of the Roman soldiers. He is also there when Jesus is beaten and crucified.
A strong lesson to be taken from this novel is forgiveness, kindness and treating others as you would want to be treated. Treating evil with goodness. Even the hardest hearts can be changed.
I received this book from the fiction guild and was not required to write a review.
ADFehlArden, NCAge: 25-34Gender: female4 Stars Out Of 5Barley & "Kind Man"April 21, 2017ADFehlArden, NCAge: 25-34Gender: femaleQuality: 3Value: 4Meets Expectations: 3In 1st century Jerusalem, a pregnant stray dog gives birth to a litter of pups in a wooded area near the river. The runt of the litter is spotted by Micah, the young son of a wealthy landowner. Micah sneaks away from chores each day to play with the pup, until the day he is found out by his father. The father tries to have the whole litter killed but thanks to the efforts of Duv, a woodcarver, and his wife, Adah, the young pup is saved and named Barley.
It is in the home of the woodcarver that Barley first starts to hear stories of an already near-mythic man from the land of Galilee. That's right, none other than than big man himself, Jesus! For seven years, Barley has a cozy home life full of love and treats. But one regular work day in town leads to tragedy for the woodcarver and his wife, a turn of events that once again puts Barley out on the streets. The scared canine is soon spotted by Samid, a homeless man / petty criminal, and his lady friend Prisca. Though the accomodations are significantly more humble than his previous pad, Barley takes what he can get and soon settles into a moderately comfortable routine with new pal Samid. Barley's life with Samid puts him in close proximity to Jesus, now in Jerusalem, so Barley is there to witness the final days leading up to the Passion of Christ.
Well, right off, I will say that this is a unique way to breathe fresh new perspective into a tale that's been told a million times over! The writing sometimes struck me as somewhat simplistic but that could just be a natural by-product of the author choosing to tell the story from the inner thoughts of a dog. Perhaps the simplicity is intentional? Regardless, the benefit of a simple voice is that it makes this story perfect for sharing with readers within a wide age range.
Note that I was careful not to say "of all ages", because there is material within this novel that may be a little traumatic for the littlest ones in your life, whether they read independently or have you read to them. Barley witnesses (and describes) seeing the bodies of people executed by hanging, there are moments of extreme violence within Barley's own life, moments where he is injured, not to mention Barley relaying the sights of the Crucifixion itself near the end of the novel. The fate of Duv & Adah (the woodcarver and his wife) show just how rough and sometimes lawless this time period could be. So when it comes to the smallest of your story lovers, I'd recommend maybe first doing a read-through to see what you need to gloss over for them.
Much of the story, as far as plot, while solidly enjoyable, lacked that little something extra for me. For the majority of the book, I kept waiting for that extra oomph to kick in. That said, I did enjoy the "voice" of our dog narrator and one of my favorite bits of the whole story was Samid and his friendship / something more? with Prisca. There was a good dose of humor and lively banter between them. I agree with Prisca, Samid outwardly appears rough around the edges, but you get the sense there's a good guy there deep down.
What ended up bumping this up to a four star read for me was simply Barley's observations during the Crucifixion. The way author Ron Marasco painted these scenes gave me a whole new visual of this event I've heard told in stories SO many times over. Yet something in the way Marasco illustrates it (in words) made it more real for me than nearly any other piece on the Crucifixion I've ever read. Ever. I physically flinched at what Barley describes himself seeing as the walk up to the cross is taking place. The attention to detail Marasco provides when describing the whippings Jesus is taking from soldiers, the way Barley winces and whimpers and thinks of him (Jesus) as Kind Man. It all just knocks you right in the heart! Beyond the Crucifixion scene, there is a further twist to the ending that I did not entirely see coming!
FTC Disclaimer: TNZ Fiction Guild kindly provided me with a complimentary copy of this book & requested that I check it out and share my thoughts. The opinions above are entirely my own.
Blooming with BooksBloomer, WIAge: 35-44Gender: female5 Stars Out Of 5Easter as you never before viewed it!April 16, 2017Blooming with BooksBloomer, WIAge: 35-44Gender: femaleQuality: 5Value: 5Meets Expectations: 5The Dog Who Was There
By Ron Marasco
This is an Easter book unlike any I have ever read. This is an emotionally moving book that follows the journey of a small dog by the name of Barley. Barley's life takes several dramatic turns throughout the story. There are flashes showing Barley's early life and how he came to be where he calls home when the book opens. The book is set in Israel on the outskirts of Jerusalem during the final days of Jesus life.
The book is told entirely through Barley's perspective. And due to an unforeseen happening Barley finds himself in Jerusalem at the same time as the Teacher that everyone is speaking of. Barley observes the brutality of a land under Roman rule as well as unexpected pockets of kindness. And he observes the transforming power of the Teacher, the triumphant entrance into Jerusalem, and the cruelty of the Crucifixion.
The loyalty, the love Barley displays is touching even to the point of moving the reader to a tear or two. These two emotions are the catalysts that propel the story to its conclusion - a conclusion that will leave the reader satisfied and rejoicing in the transforming power of Messiah's message. This cover perfectly depicts this book.
I was provided a copy of this book by the publisher through the Fiction Guild with no expectation of a positive review. All opinions expressed are my own.