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Church of the Dog: 08/19/08
Imagine if Pollyanna grew up, became an art teacher an moved to a ranch run by an elderly couple. That's the gist of Church of the Dog by Kaya McLaren.
Set in Oregon farm country, Church of the Dog follows the lives of Edith, Earl, their grandson Daniel and their mysterious guest Mara O'Shaunnessey who can astral project herself into dreams and sometimes heaven. The novel is told in the voices of the four main characters, though it later settles on just Daniel and Mara.
The chapters are divided up by season and the book covers a year and a bit of Mara's stay on the ranch and the way in which she changes it. Although the ranch is the central setting of the novel, Mara's classroom, Daniel's home (the "ugliest house on the street" (page 25), the church and the Grand Canyon also have important roles in this unusual and sometimes hard to follow story.
With such potentially different narrators, I was surprised at the sameness of their voices. Earl and Edith make sense for their sixty year marriage but Daniel and Mara should have sounded more different than they do. I found it difficult at times to distinguish who had taken over telling the story and would have to flip back to see which names was listed.