Marasco applied the Page 69 Test to his new novel, The Dog Who Was There, and reported the following:
The Dog Who Was There takes place in Biblical times and the lead character is a small, sweet mongrel dog named Barley who’s trying to make his way in the brutal world of Roman-occupied Judea. The city is tense with upheavals over an influential teacher from Galilee named Jesus Christ who’s been preaching nearby. With Roman authorities on high alert, Barley’s current master--a rough-around-the-edges homeless character named Samid--is taken away, leaving Barley on the side of a dirt road that leads to the marketplace.Learn more about The Dog Who Was There at the publisher's website.
Barley looks up the empty path, hoping for someone to come along and play with him. After a long while, two young boys come skipping down the road, followed by their merchant father. Barley wags his tail madly at seeing them. And the boys’ eyes light up at the sight of a scruffy roadside dog looking over at them with pleading eyes.
By Page 69 the smiling boys have tossed something toward Barley who thinks: A stick! Fetch! They want to play! Just like Barley’s master Samid used to! After looking around eagerly for where the stick landed Barley turns back toward the boys just as something hurls past his snout, grazing his flappy ear with a sharp sting. The boys are not throwing sticks; they are throwing rocks. The boy’s don’t want to play. These are boys who want to hurt.
As Page 69 begins, Barley is shaking his head to chase away both the pain of his ear and the sadness he feels that some human beings are not kind. The boys and their father continue on down the road, leaving Barley alone but still believing that, somewhere in the world, is a Master who will be good to him. By the end of page 69 Barley’s ear feels better, his hope is intact, and the penultimate line of the page describes Barley continuing on his way, trotting along a “thin and twisty road with no idea where it would take him.”
So off he goes: a small dog with a faith that could put human beings to shame.