Following Atticus: Forty-Eight High Peaks, One Little Dog, and an Extraordinary Friendship

Following Atticus: Forty-Eight High Peaks, One Little Dog, and an Extraordinary Friendship

4.5 182
by Tom Ryan
     
 

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After a close friend died of cancer, middle-aged, overweight, acrophobic newspaperman Tom Ryan decided to pay tribute to her in a most unorthodox manner. Ryan and his friend, miniature schnauzer Atticus M. Finch, would attempt to climb all forty-eight of New Hampshire’s four-thousand-foot peaks twice in one winter while raising money for charity. It was an

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Overview

After a close friend died of cancer, middle-aged, overweight, acrophobic newspaperman Tom Ryan decided to pay tribute to her in a most unorthodox manner. Ryan and his friend, miniature schnauzer Atticus M. Finch, would attempt to climb all forty-eight of New Hampshire’s four-thousand-foot peaks twice in one winter while raising money for charity. It was an adventure of a lifetime, leading them across hundreds of miles and deep into an enchanting but dangerous winter wonderland. At the heart of the amazing journey was the extraordinary relationship they shared, one that blurred the line between man and dog.

Following Atticus is an unforgettable true saga of adventure, friendship, and the unlikeliest of family, as one remarkable animal opens the eyes and heart of a tough-as-nails newspaperman to the world’s beauty and its possibilities.

Editorial Reviews

Manchester Union Leader
“How can you go wrong with a cute little dog who braved the White Mountains’ highest peaks time and again…over the ice, snow and sometimes deadly uncertainty of wild winter altitude in New Hampshire? Far more than just a typical man–and–his–dog account…Ryan and Atticus have delivered on all counts.”
NEIBA
#2 New England Bestseller List
The Day (Connecticut)
“Need your faith in humanity restored? Read this book. It’s lovely to learn about our higher selves from an unlikely source like Atticus M. Finch.”
AMC Outdoors
“Not your standard mountain adventure book. . . . Reading Following Atticus can feel like taking a long walk, or a series of walks, with a great storyteller. Why ‘follow Atticus?’ Because, [Ryan says], ‘Dogs, like mountains, bring you back to yourself.’”
Appalachia
“Ryan . . . is an engaging storyteller whose humorous, self-deprecating descriptions evoke Bill Bryson’s A Walk in the Woods: Rediscovering American on the Appalachian Trail and John Steinbeck’s Travels with Charley: In Search of America.”
Boston Globe
#5 Boston Globe bestseller
Publishers Weekly
Journalist Ryan shares the heartwarming, surprisingly suspenseful story of his bond (and adventures) with his intrepid and loyal miniature schnauzer, Atticus Maxwell Finch. Mourning a friend who has recently died, Ryan decides to hike all 48 of the 4,000-foot peaks of the White Mountains twice in the 90 days of winter—with Atticus. Despite contracting Lyme disease, Ryan and his faithful companion embark on their journey and face a host of dangerous storms, fierce winds, and temperatures registering 30 degrees below zero. Their greatest challenge, however, arises not on a mountain but in the veterinarian’s office where it’s discovered that five-year-old Atticus has cataracts and presumed thyroid cancer and requires surgery. Through their love for the mountains they climb and their devotion to each other, along with some good luck, the pair are able to continue doing what they love the most—being together. Part adventure story, part memoir, but most important, a love story, this entertaining and joyous book proves that dog really is man’s best friend and vice versa. (Oct.)
Library Journal
After getting five-pound puppy Atticus M. Finch, newspaper editor Ryan carried him around for a month. But they really bonded when, to raise money for charity after a friend died of cancer, Ryan set out with his dog to climb all 48 peaks over 4000 feet in New Hampshire's White Mountains—twice. Another heartwarming dog story (there can never be enough), with this one getting attention from national hiking clubs as well as Muttluks, which makes canine booties. With a 100,000-copy first printing.
Kirkus Reviews

Lyrical memoir of an adventurous New England journalist and his trusty canine companion.

Ryan spent many years single-handedly owning and operating the Undertoad, a newspaper covering the police and political beats (and their interrelated improprieties) in eccentric Newburyport, Mass. ("Norman Rockwell meets Alfred Hitchcock"). The author's journalistic exposure of local scandals didn't sit well with folks in power, however, and he feared violent retribution. Quelling his paranoia was the "commitment" of adopting an older miniature schnauzer. Sadly, his time with that pet lasted less than a year, but spurred him to adopt schnauzer pup Atticus Maxwell Finch. After a frustrating training period, Ryan and Atticus struck a harmonious human-animal rapport, a uniquely interactive relationship the author clearly reveled in. A few tastes of majestic New Hampshire mountain climbing with his brothers brought back fond memories of better days with his estranged father, a haunting presence throughout the memoir. That family hike challenged Ryan to scale all 48 of the White Mountain range's 4,000-foot peaks in 90 days with a dog Ryan fondly writes was "made for the mountains." The experience became therapeutic, transformative and spiritually enlightening for both. Without regret, Ryan retired the newspaper and, in honor of cancer victim Vicki Pearson, galvanized himself and Atticus to, again, hike the 48 peaks (twice!) as a cancer fundraiser. Rivetingly portrayed, both valiantly braved the vicious winter elements (Atticus in booties and bodysuit), but the dog's darker days were only just beginning. There's immense pathos in the frank depiction of the author's turbulent relationship with his father, both in describing his physical abuse as a youth or finding forgiveness in adulthood.

In befriending Atticus and carrying his father's memory to those serene mountain peaks, Ryan admits he discovered a rare peacefulness, a quality that underscores this touching chronicle.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780062088628
Publisher:
HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
09/20/2011
Edition description:
Large Print
Pages:
448
Sales rank:
1,238,221
Product dimensions:
6.00(w) x 8.90(h) x 1.10(d)

Meet the Author

Tom Ryan served as publisher and editor of the Newburyport, Massachusetts, newspaper The Undertoad for more than a decade. In 2007 he sold the newspaper and moved to the White Mountains of New Hampshire with miniature schnauzer Atticus M. Finch. Over the last five years, Tom and Atticus have climbed more than 450 four-thousand-foot peaks.

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