Monday, September 26, 2011

Take Good Care of the Garden and the Dogs by Heather Lende

Sometimes I don't think I am meant to read memoirs.  Once in a while one really resonates with me but the majority of the time I read knowing I am supposed to be gaining some kind of understanding of a universal truth but not quite grasping it within the stories.  I think a good part of my difficulty with memoirs is that they often do not run in a linear fashion with the story moving in chronological order.  This is certainly true of Take Good Care of the Garden and the Dogs by Heather Lende.

This is Lende's second book with the first being If You Lived Here, I'd Know Your Name: News from Small-Town Alaska.  Both books revolve around the citizens of Haines, Alaska and the impact that living there has on the author.  Take Good Care of the Garden and the Dogs begins as Lende prepares to go on a book tour for her first book but is literally hit by a truck instead.  Her months of recuperation, the illness and death of her mother, and writing obituaries for the town residents lead her to reflect on her community and her faith.  The book is deeply spiritual without being preachy and Lende is able to add some humor to what might otherwise be a very somber story.

Lende moves fluidly throughout time tying together the past, the present, and even hopes for the future.  One memory or story gives birth to the next as she tells the stories of those she knows and has known.  While the book was interesting in parts, there was much that simply failed to capture my attention.  I am not sure if it is because the wilderness setting of such a remote Alaskan town has no connection to my life or if it was because I was unable to relate to the various characters and events portrayed in the book.  It is also very possible that I was simply not in the right frame of mind when I was reading it due to my own personal circumstances.

I think Take Good Care of the Garden and the Dogs will appeal and resonate with a great many people.  I just don't happen to be one of them.

Find our more about Heather Lende and her books at

I received a copy of Take Good Care of the Garden and the Dogs from FSB Associates (although I don't remember requesting it) in exchange for my honest review.

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  1. Other books on dealing with the death of a close family member or friend is The Art of Saying Goodbye and The Long Goodbye. Those I could relate to, having had a death in the family. I don't know if I would have enjoyed them otherwise.

  2. Funny--I received a review copy of this book but never read it and I had assumed from the cover and the title that it was a work of fiction.

    I've read a couple of really, really great memoirs lately (The Memory Palace and Cocktail House Under the Tree of Forgetfulness), so maybe I should try to dig out my copy of this...

  3. I am also not one for memoirs. This one sounds interesting, but probably not for me either. Great, honest review :)

  4. Thanks for the comments!

    I'm finding it interesting that a review of a non-fiction book that I didn't enjoy that much is getting comments while my reviews of fiction books that I loved are getting nothing. Hmm, something to ponder...

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