Rosepoint Rating: Five (+) Stars
“The harder I work, the luckier I’ll get.”
Funny Farm is an inspiring and moving memoir of the author’s turbulent life with 600 rescue animals
Laurie Zaleski never aspired to run an animal rescue; that was her mother Annie’s dream. But from girlhood, Laurie was determined to make the dream come true. Thirty years later as a successful businesswoman, she did it, buying a 15-acre farm deep in the Pinelands of South Jersey. She was planning to relocate Annie and her caravan of ragtag rescues—horses and goats, dogs and cats, chickens and pigs—when Annie died, just two weeks before moving day. In her heartbreak, Laurie resolved to make her mother’s dream her own. In 2001, she established the Funny Farm Animal Rescue outside Mays Landing, New Jersey. Today, she carries on Annie’s mission to save abused and neglected animals.
Funny Farm is Laurie’s story: of promises kept, dreams fulfilled, and animals lost and found. It’s the story of Annie McNulty, who fled a nightmarish marriage with few skills, no money and no resources, dragging three kids behind her, and accumulating hundreds of cast-off animals on the way. And lastly, it’s the story of the brave, incredible, and adorable animals that were rescued.
This is a beautifully written memoir of triumph over abuse and the mother who grabbed her three children and ran. The author is a daughter of Annie McNulty. Her mother was an upper class lady of education with a strong instinct for survival when the patience ran out. Laurie has written a tribute to her mother filled with admiration and respect while describing how the rescue sanctuary came to be.
Coming from a privileged background, Laurie learns the depth of her ability to adapt to life in the shack by the pines to which she fled with her brother, sister, and mother when she was five. It’s a horrendous crash from the life they’d shared to one now of crushing deprivation.
“If this was camping, it was camping with all the discomfort and none of the s’mores.”
Her mother, a powerhouse of optimism and love, steered the children through those dark years while simultaneously exhibiting a deep love for the desperate animals that seemed to cross paths with the Zaleski’s that started with a dog adopted to help safe-guard the family.
The author builds the story from the death of her mother, taking us back to the childhood that started the rescue to the Funny Farm that fulfilled her mother’s dream. Tales of the animals are interspersed throughout the telling of the continued shocking abuse by her father. The stories, both of human and animal, are deeply emotional driving the need to keep reading, both the inspiration and perspiration, that followed the children to adulthood and the variety of animals populating their world.
“The more you cry, the less you’ll pee.”
Absolutely amazing, the prose, so keenly in tune to the predicament of the animals that the reader’s heart is drawn more than once to tears—more often to love. The overwhelming theme of the novel. The thoroughly astonishing world of animals and their connection to humans. How could your heart not break at the treatment some receive?
This is a story that feeds the need to read. Glued to the pages, you can’t help but power to the heart-warming conclusion. Sweet, inspiring, humbling, mixed with shots of humor, this is truly a must read–your next novel—currently on pre-order–and I most heartily recommend that you find it at one the retailers listed below.
I received a complimentary review copy of this book from Sara Haring at St. Martins Press (thank you, Sara!) and NetGalley and these are my own opinions.
Genre: Animal Rights, Biographies of Environmentalists and Naturalists
Publisher: St Martin’s Press
Print Length: 256 pages
Publication Date: September 7, 2021
Source: Publisher and NetGalley
[Goodreads] The Author: LAURIE ZALESKI is the founder of the Funny Farm, a charitable organization located in Mizpah, New Jersey. Since 2000, the farm has welcomed all kinds of rescue animals. Laurie is also the founder, president and CEO of Art-Z Graphics. She has been named a New Jersey Heartland Hero, is listed in the 2019 Who’s Who of Professional Women, and has received numerous awards and acknowledgements for her work to save animals and educate the public about animal abuse.
©2021 V Williams