The incredible true story of a place where animals heal and children learn to hope
"When I started The Gentle Barn, some viewed it as a hobby or an obsession, some as an act of selfless devotion. To all of those people, I want to say, You don't understand. I'm not saving the animals; they're saving me."
Ellie Laks was just seven years old when she was abused by her childminder. Through the troubled years that followed, animals were her salvation.
Through near bankruptcy and a devastating fire, Ellie's dedication has not diminished. But it wasn't until she opened up the Barn to at-risk children and children with special needs that she realised how her animals could teach lessons in forgiveness and healing to others.
This is a truly inspirational memoir, full of heartbreaking stories of hope and healing.
I'm not a big reader of autobiography's so wasn't sure if I would do this book justice when reading it but the subject interested me and the jacket description caught my attention. I was really pleasantly surprised with this book. I hadn't heard of The Gentle Barn prior to reading this book so it did contain a story I hadn't known.
This really is an amazing story of how Ellie's life unfolded and how by staying true to herself she created not just the life she always envisioned but something so big that it has become almost a movement. I found her story incredibly inspirational and the telling of her story is done in such a way that it is a telling of the creation of The Gentle Barn. Without understanding how The Gentle Bran came to be I think it would be hard to appreciate just what a special and amazing place this is. I thought the book was very restrained in the telling of certain areas of Ellie's life to its credit so that the narrative didn't become bogged down in very difficult times in Ellie's personal life but just keep moving forwards. Hope and positivity and belief are central tenants in this book. Whether or not you believe in The Gentle Barn, Ellie's commitment and passion for what is truly her calling cannot fail to impress you.
Having grown up in a farming environment where our animals were so well loved and so humanely raised it just breaks my heart to think of all the animals out there who aren't so well cared for and that as the worlds population grows animals aren't raised now the way they were a few generations ago. Farming practices have changed so much and since reading this book I have done some research and read the website www.gentlebarn.org and looked at The Gentle Barn face book page. I find myself reconsidering my position on different aspects of meat production and whilst I am not going vegetarian again yet (I was for many years) this story certainly has me rethinking that stance.
Overall I think this is a very well written autobiography of Ellie's incredible life and a fantastic biography of The Gentle Barn that makes for a very interesting and thought provoking read. I can definitely recommend this book and if you are interested in learning more definitely check out Ellie Lak's website.
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"The difference between 'involvement' and 'commitment' is like an bacon-and-eggs breakfast: the chicken was 'involved' but the pig was 'committed'"