Review of Funny Farm by Laurie Zeleski

A true story about a woman starting a rescue sanctuary for animals? Why yes, please!

Funny Farm

Laurie Zaleski

February 22, 2022

St. Martin’s Press


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. Although there are some sad parts (as life always is), there are lots of laughs.

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Annie McNulty married to a college professor seemingly had a perfect relationship and life with three kids in a wealthy suburb but one day that changed and Annie’s only recourse was to flee from the abuse that would assuredly find her children at some point. They ended up in a dump of a house almost in the middle of no where, or at least it felt like that. There, Annie started over again, teaching her kids along the way that there were more important things than possessions. Into their life, came lost souls as well as lost and found animals needing a fresh start. Lots and lots of animals. And this is how Funny Farm started in Laurie Zaleski’s story, Funny Farm.

Funny Farm gives anecdotes about the numerous animals who have come to Funny Farm which are interwoven with Laurie’s story of her mother and two siblings. Both threads show how good people can be but also how bad they can be. There is no glossing over here.

For most of Funny Farm, I considered myself lucky that I hadn’t let go of the waterworks and was pretty sure that I’d make it to the end without destroying a box of Kleenex, but with about a third of the way to go that ended. As is mentioned in the blurb, there are happy parts and sad parts because that’s what makes up life. It’s unavoidable. And even though I cried, there is so much hope and happiness surrounding the establishment of Funny Farm that I couldn’t help but be inspired. It’s stories like this, about people going out of their way to help those without a voice, that makes me believe that may be more good people out there than sometimes seems. I liked the forthright generosity of an individual who will give an animal a shot at a quality life even if the quantity might be short.

If you’re looking for an unforgettable, inspiring read, check out Funny Farm. I don’t think you’ll be disappointed.

I received an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

see below for links for Funny Farm



5 out of 5 butterflies

Links for Funny Farm Rescue:

Funny Farm Rescue website

Funny Farm Facebook

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