From the time she is nine years old and discovers a "Private Way" full of the wonderful and creepy creatures of the wild--spiders, deer, moles, chipmunks, and foxes--Lauren Slater discovers in animals a refuge from the troubled life of her suburban home. As she matures, her bond with animals--raccoons, horses, swans, cats and, above all, dogs--strengthens and grows more complex and compelling.
They offer relief from the pain of her mother's mental illness, from a foster family where she feels not at all at home, from her own periodic bouts with depression. As a psychologist, a reporter, an amateur naturalist and above all an enormously gifted writer, she draws us into the stories of her love for the animals that are so much more than pets.When an excerpt of one of the chapters of this book appeared inOmagazine, they received more mail--both laudatory and angry--than they'd ever had; in fact, they reprinted it in a 20th anniversary "best of" issue as their most controversial piece. In that excerpt, Lauren described her intense love for the animals in her life without apology, and argued that there was no reason to believe that the lives of animals had less value than the lives of humans. Throughout the chapters in this book, she examines that conviction through stories, finding, at one point: "I don't know where the beast in me begins and the human ends, or what sort of centaur I am."
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