Take Good Care of the Garden and the Dogs

Praise for Amazon bestseller Take Good Care of the Garden and the Dogs
As the obituary writer for the local paper in Haines, Alaska (population 2,400), Heather Lende knows a thing or two about life and death and dealing with the unexpected. Her first book, If You Lived Here I’d Know Your Name, painted a beautiful and honest picture of small-town life and drew raves from reviewers. Now in paperback, Take Good Care of the Garden and the Dogs conveys the importance of spirituality and community in life’s lessons. Read more...

Q&A with Heather Lende
Heather discusses raising a family in Alaska, writing about people she knows, being part of a tight-knit community, the role of faith in her life, and . . . chickens. Read more...


A Haiku Review:

Kathleen Norris plus
Anne Lamott plus the chick from
Northern Exposure            
 Emily Reads (a great book site.)


"Lende writes emotionally but never sentimentally, giving us the best Alaska memoir of late, maybe the best ever."
-- Booklist Starred review. 


  "I am the most unemotional of people, but Take Good Care of the Garden and the Dogs had me both laughing and crying, sometimes on the very same page. I am also irreligious and allergic to dogma, but the genuineness of Heather Lende's experience and her thoughtfulness about life's bad breaks and unexpected gifts-- expressed so well in her fine and funny writing-- make me want to ordain her as the goddess of good sense and song. It would be a lucky thing to live by the water in Haines, Alaska and have Lende as a neighbor; the next best thing may be reading this book"

From Minnesota's Star Tribune:

"At times her (Heather Lende's) voice, which alternates between folksy and formal, playful and prayerful, entertaining and elegiac, is reminiscent of Garrison Keillor, Krista Tippett, Tom Bodett, Kathleen Norris and Anne Lamott. But Lende has a freshness that keeps her from being too derivative, and Alaska's geography, history and culture strongly flavor her work."

"Take Good Care of the Garden and the Dogs celebrates the resilience of ordinary people, gathered together to help one another with the business of living and dying. Reading this memoir is like listening to an old friend....The effect is pleasantly intimate, as if we were sitting next to her on the Juneau ferry."    


The Boston Globe said:

Take a hike, Sarah Palin. Here is the real thing — good old-fashioned American values coming from small-town Alaska. In a cozy, chatty voice, Heather Lende tells stories of life in Haines, Alaska, where, as the title of her first book claims, “If You Lived Here, I’d Know Your Name.” In fact, she knows not only the names but also the stories of all her neighbors — the protective owner of the vicious dog that preys on her chickens, the men who hunt and cook bear with her husband, the women who can salmon, sing in the church choir, and survive or succumb to cancer, and the young man who runs her over with his truck and shatters her pelvis, as well as the volunteer fireman and ambulance crew who save her life.

The L.A. Times wrote:

 Heather Lende is one of those increasingly rare species: a small-town newspaper reporter. She has lived for 25 years in Haines, Alaska, where she writes obituaries for the Chilkat Valley News and a regular column on daily life in a small town for the Anchorage Daily News. In April 2005 she was riding her bike when she fell and was run over by Kevin, the local grocery store manager, in his truck. This is the story of her recovery, with the help of friends, family and all kinds of people in her community, but it is also the story of how she found true grace and gratitude. A year after the bike accident, Lende's mother, one of those equally rare utterly stable role models, died of leukemia. "Take good care of the garden and dogs," she said before she died. Writing a small town's obituaries gave Lende a good platform from which to carry out her mother's advice. The book is full of vivid characters (a librarian who collects overdue books in person) and strange, sad deaths. Lende is not one for looking back. She has a simple, chatty style most readers will find oddly comforting. Life does, in fact, go on.

 Read a nice review on-line of Take Good Care of the Garden and the Dogs from Washington, D.C. (On The Book Studio, a great book lovers site.)Also, read this funny one from  Five Borough Books , book news written by and for twenty-something New Yorkers. It is slightly off-color, (be warned)  and the writer is very New York-y. He, (I think it is He) said correctly, that Garden and Dogs is a "Mom" book, but he does seemed puzzled about Alaska. 

 Take Good Care of the Garden and the Dogs was an Indie Next Pick for June 2010

Booklist *Starred Review*  for Take Good Care of the Garden and the Dogs:

While biking downtown, daydreaming about her upcoming tour for If You Lived Here, I’d Know Your Name (2005), Lende was hit by a truck. Literally. It ran over her torso. So no tour, but the makings of another book, which moves as far beyond the clichés of the hurt-but-heroic personal-triumph genre as Lende’s town, Haines, Alaska, is from . . . well, even Juneau and Anchorage, to say nothing of the world Outside. What distinguishes it is Lende’s relationship with her community and her faith, both of which present challenges as well as comforts. Small town Alaskan life ain’t easy. Far too many are lost to alcoholism, weather, violence, and accidents at sea and in the wild. Lende should know: she writes the local paper’s obits. Friendships, family, and natural beauty sustain her and other survivors. As for her faith, it isn’t always easy, either. So few meet in her Episcopal congregation’s borrowed quarters that they have an unpaid vicar rather than a priest. God doesn’t always seem to answer; why, for instance, does Lende’s beloved mother go down to death still fighting, while an Alaskan friend passes away in beatific calm? Sometimes her moral compass seems to roll around rather than point north. Lende writes emotionally but never sentimentally, giving us the best Alaska memoir of late, maybe the best ever. —Patricia Monaghan


"Amiable in Alaska and slightly left of center, projecting the warmth of a well-made campfire."- Kirkus Reviews

The Whole Kirkus Review:

  A popular essayist in Haines, AK, follows her prior excursion (If You Lived Here, I’d Know Your Name, 2005) with a report on, among other relevant matters, what it’s like to be hit by a truck.

In fact, Anchorage Daily News (and now Alaska Dispatch) columnist Lende was “run over by a truck…flown out of town, put back together, hospitalized, and finally placed in a nursing home a thousand miles away from home until I was strong enough to travel.” After such a life-threatening experience, the author did what came natural to her—she wrote about it. Now recovered and back to consider some timeless values, she proves a skilled observer of nature in the wild and nature in human form. She is the coach of the local track ( actually it's a cross-country team) wife and mother of five and a winsome reporter on people old and young, including dear friends, stalwart citizens and brave neighbors. Lende provides pointed thoughts on mortality, occasioned only partly by the death of a parent (the book’s title was her mother’s valedictory); touches of Tlingit native philosophy; and reflections on the blessing of the fleet and the erection of a modern totem pole. The author loves her Alaskan home, where she can see soaring eagles, bears and other natural wonders, and her cozy whimsy is refreshing, as when she discusses her fondness for her chickens. “I know chickens are not the most intelligent of creatures,” she writes, “but my hens have been raised to believe the world is good and that they are loved.”


 "Heather Lende continues to explore small-town life in the last frontier with profound reflections on motherhood, mercy, and the art of mending. Take Good Care of the Garden and the Dogs will touch your heart and soul and give you much to think about long after you've turned the last page." 

--Jo-Ann Mapson author of The Bad Girl Creek Trilogyy and The Owl & Moon Cafe.

 "This book is a wonder. It authentically opens a door to Alaskan living, a world that, for  most, will be surprising and beautiful. The same door opens to a world of the soul and spirit that will seem familiar and new at the same time. It is one of the best books on theology and spirituality that I have read in a long time."

- The Rt. Rev. Mark MacDonald, formerly Bishop of Alaska, now National Indigenous Anglican Bishop of Canada


Ten* Things to Think About if You Are Hit by a Truck
The people of Haines were tremendously influential in my recovery, as were my family and my faith. Throughout the healing process, I was forced to look anew at so many aspects of my life. You don’t need to wait for a near-fatal accident to take stock of what’s most important, though. I’ve put together this list based on some of the questions I asked myself during that time. I hope these will help you start a discussion with your friends and family about your own spiritual and community life. Read more...




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