The Alaskan landscape — so vast, dramatic, and unbelievable — may make it easier to believe that something or someone greater is in charge. Haines resident Heather Lende wonders whether that’s why people in her town (population 2,400) so often discuss the meaning of life. She thinks it helps make life mean more.

Lende, who writes the local obituary column and has been called "part Annie Dillard, part Anne Lamott" by the Los Angeles Times, revealed in her first book a deep awareness of what links all humanity. Since then, she was run over by a truck in an almost fatal accident and has had a few more reasons to consider matters both spiritual and earthly. In Take Good Care of the Garden and the Dogs, we meet the community that helped her get back on her feet: the eccentric, fiercely independent, always fascinating residents of Haines—Buddhists, bear hunters, Tinglit Indians, and her large, lively family. We follow Lende as she attends her small Episcopal church, cares for her mother, wonders how to forgive the driver who hit her and how not to faint with joy as she finally walks down to the beach for her daughter’s wedding. By the time we reach a certain age, most of us have been hit by trucks, in one way or another, and Lende shows us that our responses to those setbacks have everything to do with faith.
Published: Workman Publishing on
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