Consider this your official tissue warning. You will need tissues while reading Ron Marasco’s “The Dog Who Was There” — and lots of them.
“The Dog Who Was There” is a lovely, unique retelling of the Gospel Story — told from the perspective of Barley, a spunky, runt-of-the-litter dog who has had more ups and downs in his short little life than anyone should have.
As the novel opens, Barley is living the good life with his masters, Adah and Duv, merchants who sell Duv’s wood carvings of birds. But when tragedy strikes, Barley must set out and find a new master.
Barley’s journey leads him to a new master and eventually a chance to meet the Teacher, a man from Galilee that Barley grows to call the “Kind Man” — a man whose fate will eventually be closely intertwined with Barley’s own story.
With the ending circling back to the tale’s beginning, Marasco’s novel is a delightful lesson in love, forgiveness and overcoming evil. It touches on despair and how easy it is to remain in one’s despair because it helps justify the worst in is. However, a miracle can come along to rise us out of despair. (“Don’t you know what a miracle is, Samid? … It’s the opposite of despair.”) It also teaches us that life and its lessons are always a journey, and sometimes that journey takes a long time, and is constantly ongoing.
Marasco does a great job of sharing the story of Jesus and his great sacrifice for us, but through the eyes of an adorable and plucky canine. “The Dog Who Was There” is definitely an emotional roller coaster, but one filled with love and forgiveness.
“Barley now understood the lesson of lessons — the way to overcome evil.
Look for the good.
Look for the good, and forgive.”
Four stars out of five.
Thomas Nelson provided this complimentary copy for my honest, unbiased review.