Can Juan Rivas climb above adversity to find success?

Can Juan Rivas climb above adversity to find success?

What will you sacrifice to achieve your dream?

In the novel Who Brought the Dog to Church?, Juan Rivas works as the groundskeeper at Horizon Vista subdivision where Betty, Letitia, Ida Lou and Elizabeth live. He came to the United States on a work visa at 19 and has been in Virginia less than a year.

Bright and industrious, Juan guided tours around the Mayan ruins near Coba, Mexico, where he grew up. An archaeologist he met there sponsored him to work in the U.S.

Though pursuing the American dream, Juan is homesick and lonely. He wonders if he can persevere and continue sending money to support his parents and siblings in his home country.

Even though most people ignore Juan as a manual laborer, he observes the neighbors closely. The young man considers the elderly women at Horizon Vista to be his tias, aunties, and looks for ways to help them.

Here's what one reviewer said about the contemporary fiction. “In Who Brought the Dog to Church?, Tracy L. Smoak has done something remarkable—she’s woven serious topics such as death, immigration, and domestic violence, with the laugh-out-loud antics of a bunch of small-town church ladies to produce a funny, heartwarming, and thought-provoking tale. Fun connections and revelations sprinkled throughout the book make it a page-turner not to be missed, and the whole story wraps up in wonderfully satisfying and sweet conclusion. This book gives readers hope for abundant joy, even in the midst of pain, and, most of all, points us to the unfailing love of the Savior.” -Heather Norman Smith

Author of Songs for a Sunday, Where I Was Planted, and other inspirational Southern Fiction


A YouTube playlist introducing the characters with free book club guides is at


Information about ordering the novel can be found at


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