In THE LUCKY ONES: My Passionate Fight for Farm Animals (Avery Books/Penguin Group), August 2, 2012, $26.00, Hardcover) by Jenny Brown with Gretchen Primack, Jenny tells of how at the young age of 32 she’d already reached her goals in the documentary world working for the likes of Errol Morris, PBS’s Frontline, and the Discovery Channel. Then a dormant but deeply ingrained need to do something to really help animals rose to a head—an early mid-life crisis—and she volunteered for the Texas mission. She moved from Boston to rural Watkins Glen, New York, in 2002 to live and work at an animal sanctuary and learn all she could about shelter operations. There Jenny and her husband Doug found the confidence they needed to start a sanctuary of their own in Woodstock two years later. Today, Woodstock Farm Animal Sanctuary takes care of over two hundred rescued farm animals and has thousands of visitors annually. By placing people within eye contact of beings mostly known as food, the sanctuary changes hearts and minds about the animals abused in our industrialized food system.
But THE LUCKY ONES is more than the story of the sanctuary. It is a story that begins with a faithful friend, Boogie, the “tiny calico wisp of a kitten” who Jenny received as a gift at the age of ten upon losing her leg to bone cancer. Her relationship with Boogie sparked in her a feeling of responsibility and awareness about animals’ vulnerability. It stayed with her for the eighteen years of Boogie’s life, and it positioned Jenny to consider those living and dying in far-flung factory farms.
In THE LUCKY ONES, Jenny recalls the challenges in her life as an amputee through her tumultuous teenage years in Louisville, and traces her unlikely path from working the counter at McDonald’s to becoming a profoundly devoted farm animal advocate. She interweaves moving stories of the “animal ambassadors” who populate the sanctuary, like that of Albie, the three legged goat; Kayli, the slaughterhouse escapee cow; and Quincy, an abandoned Easter duckling found in a NYC park.
Jenny Brown pulls no punches: she includes vital statistics and shocking facts about lives of the 10 billion animals used for food every year in the U.S (that number doesn’t even include fish). She contrasts these cold realities with her first-hand knowledge of the individuals she’s encountered, and teaches us, for example, that pigs are the smartest domesticated animals in the world, cows are deeply emotional, and turkeys will compete for your affection. Labels like “Free-Range” and “Certified Humane” are exposed for what they are, shedding light on an ever-growing vegan movement across the nation as people become more aware of the conditions at farms and slaughterhouses large and small.
Blending wry humor with unflinching honesty, THE LUCKY ONES brings a compelling new voice to a healthy-living movement—and to the vulnerable, voiceless creatures among us.
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