The Dog Who Was There

Reviewed by: Alyssa Marie Roat, a professional writing major at Taylor University.



Title: The Dog Who Was There

Author: Ron Marasco

Publisher: Thomas Nelson

Publication Date: 2017

Format: Print book

Length: 262 pages


This book tells the story of Barley, a scrappy dog struggling to survive in tumultuous first century Jerusalem. Through his innocent eyes, the cruelty of Rome, the depths of poverty, and, ultimately, the passion of the Christ are freshly told with a tender heart. Barley’s optimism and his love for humanity, no matter how broken, lead the reader on a journey of hope and forgiveness.

While unashamedly true to the horrors of the time, this novel dances with pure, simplistic prose. The reader feels empathy for everyone from the gentle countryside couple to the violent thief. By the end of the tale, the reader may very well be smiling through tears at a story of hope even amidst sadness.

Though some of the characters are a bit flat, their development arcs are convincing and touching. At times, the writing voice is confusing and the prose strays into interpretation beyond Barley’s point of view. However, as a whole, the story is well written. Whereas the book invents backstory for some minor, unnamed biblical characters, the theology is sound.


Rating (1 to 5)

4 stars

Suggested Audience

The story is simple enough for middle grade reading but also engaging enough for an adult audience. It is recommended for ages ten and up.

Christian Impact

The book helps the reader enter the world of the first century and understand the crucifixion story with greater emotional depth. The storyline itself teaches lessons about forgiveness, generous love, and the transformational power of Jesus in the lives of the characters.

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The Dog Who Was There

About Ceil Carey

The Evangelical Church Library Association, founded in 1970, is a fellowship of Christian churches, schools, and individuals.

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