The Longest Trip Home

The Longest Trip Home

4.0 67
by John Grogan
     
 

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“As he did in Marley, Grogan makes readers feel they have a seat at the family dinner table….4 stars.”
People

 

John Grogan, author of the phenomenal #1 New York Times bestseller, Marley & Me, once again takes readers into his past, his memories, and his heart in The Longest Trip Home

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Overview

“As he did in Marley, Grogan makes readers feel they have a seat at the family dinner table….4 stars.”
People

 

John Grogan, author of the phenomenal #1 New York Times bestseller, Marley & Me, once again takes readers into his past, his memories, and his heart in The Longest Trip Home—a funny and poignant memoir of faith, family, and identity. A New York Times bestseller in its own right, The Longest Trip Home has earned glowing accolades from the critics (“Genuinely heartrending,” —New York Times “Wry and witty,” —Washington Post; “Entertaining, funny, and, best of all, always honest at its core,” —St. Louis Post-Dispatch). And, just as Marley & Me was more than simply “a dog book,” John Grogan’s Longest Trip is much, much more than your typical story of a boy’s coming-of-age.

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Editorial Reviews

Booklist
“From the author of Marley & Me (2005), this is an extraordinary memoir of estrangement and reconciliation.”
Teen People Book Club
“As he did in Marley, Grogan makes readers feel they have a seat at the family dinner table. He’s now a nonpracticing Catholic, but here—to wonderful effect—he confesses all.”
Washington Post
“Wry and witty. . . [a] full-hearted and worthy memoir.”
People
“As he did in Marley, Grogan makes readers feel they have a seat at the family dinner table. He’s now a nonpracticing Catholic, but here-to wonderful effect-he confesses all.”
BookPage
“John Grogan is more like Marley than he might want to believe. An affable, unassuming rabble-rouser, the author who penned a bestseller about his goofy dog gets up to some hilarious antics of his own ... The resulting story is full of humor [and] poignant scenes.
Janet Maslin
“Genuinely heartending. . .Grogan invests these events with deeply felt humanity and pathos.”
People Magazine
“As he did in Marley, Grogan makes readers feel they have a seat at the family dinner table. He’s now a nonpracticing Catholic, but here—to wonderful effect—he confesses all.”
Ann Hood
“With his telltale humor and poignant observations about life and our humanity, John Grogan delivers another emotional wallop here. THE LONGEST TRIP HOME is a must read for anyone who has questioned their faith, sought to understand their identity, and loved their family. In other words, everyone.”
Publishers Weekly

Grogan provides heartfelt and evocative narration to his touching coming-of-age memoir. His speaking style may not necessarily convey polish, but his friendly lilt and natural enunciation perfectly fits the essence of the autobiographical material. Grogan’s vivid anecdotes of Catholic schoolboy mischief—from chugging communion wine to covertly purchasing cigarettes from a bowling alley vending machine complete with old-fashioned pull-knobs and the clank of coinage—come to life with wistful charm. The angst never descends into trite clichés, as Grogan reflects on honest family disagreements with respect and understanding. As the laughter of youth gives way to the weighty matters of adulthood, Grogan remains in full command as a master storyteller. His recollections of his dad’s valiant struggle with leukemia and their fateful dialogue about faith and fatherhood are especially memorable. The musical interludes at the start and end of each disk set the nostalgic tone without descending into heavy-handed orchestration. A Morrow hardcover (Reviews, Sept. 1). (Nov.)

Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Library Journal

Grogan follows up Marley & Me(LJ7/05), a #1 New York Times best seller recently released as a feature film, with this memoir of growing up the son of Irish Catholic parents in suburban Detroit. He does an excellent job reading the tale himself-which tells of his evolving relationship with his parents, his wife, and his faith-with equal amounts of heartbreak and humor. Listeners to his first book, also from HarperAudio, will want to give this a try. Recommended for all collections. [Audio clip available through library.booksontape.comand www.harperaudio.com; the Morrow hc was suggested as a "required" purchase for all libraries, LJ10/15/08.-Ed.]
—Stephen L. Hupp

Kirkus Reviews
Author of the bestselling Marley & Me (2005) shares his candy-coated personal history. Grogan opens with memories of his "wondrous" youth, guided by a mother who awakened each of her four children with the tickle of a feather and some lighthearted teasing. The author recalls having inexhaustible energy while growing up in metropolitan Detroit, somewhat to the chagrin of strict but loving Mom, who made valiant attempts to rein in her preteen powerhouse. On a typical vacation, known as a "family miracle trip," they would camp out after spending the day visiting religious shrines and monasteries. The Grogan family was fervently religious, which may explain why the author became so mischievous at an early age. He spied on a topless neighbor sunbathing in her yard, cultivated crushes on teachers in his particularly sadistic parochial school and indulged in cigarettes, fireworks and mild neighborhood vandalism. Humorous situations saturate the narrative: his brother Michael's early affinity for the priestly life juxtaposed against Grogan's own predilection for the female bosom; his parents' radical frugality; various altar boy calamities; a lip-mauling kiss from "Lioness Lori . . . an overzealous make-out partner with braces." Experimentation with drugs, sex and petty crime soon followed, along with the dogged pursuit of writing, launched with a vulgar underground publication that landed him and his high-school cohorts in hot water. Post-college, Grogan got writing gigs at various newspapers in random locales. He also acquired a non-Catholic girlfriend: his future wife Jenny, with whom he cohabitated before getting married, which both bewildered and disappointed his conservative, judgmentalparents. Although much of the book describes Grogan locking horns with his parents over varied, mostly religious differences, after his father's leukemia diagnosis it becomes a mushy testament to the power of love, forgiveness and growing old gracefully. A harmless, wholesome treat for those who don't mind a little treacle. Agent: Laurie Abkemeier/DeFiore and Company

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780061713309
Publisher:
HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
10/13/2009
Edition description:
Reprint
Pages:
337
Sales rank:
354,457
Product dimensions:
5.30(w) x 7.90(h) x 0.90(d)

Read an Excerpt

The Longest Trip Home

Chapter One

"Wake up, little sleepyheads."

The voice drifted through the ether. "Wake up, wake up, boys. Today we leave on vacation." I opened one eye to see my mother leaning over my oldest brother's bed across the room. In her hand was the dreaded feather. "Time to get up, Timmy," she coaxed and danced the feather tip beneath his nostrils. Tim batted it away and tried to bury his face in the pillow, but this did nothing to deter Mom, who relished finding innovative ways to wake us each morning.

She sat on the edge of the bed and fell back on an old favorite. "Now, if you don't like Mary Kathleen McGurny just a little bit, keep a straight face," she chirped cheerily. I could see my brother, eyes still shut, lock his lips together, determined not to let her get the best of him this time. "Just a tiny bit? An eeny teeny bit?" she coaxed, and as she did she brushed the feather across his neck. He clamped his lips tight and squeezed his eyes shut. "Do I see a little smile? Oops, I think I see just a little one. You like her just a tiny bit, don't you?" Tim was twelve and loathed Mary Kathleen McGurny as only a twelve-year-old boy could loathe a girl known for picking her nose so aggressively on the playground it would bleed, which was exactly why my mother had chosen her for the morning wake-up ritual. "Just a little?" she teased, flicking the feather across his cheek and into his ear until he could take it no more. Tim scrunched his face into a tortured grimace and then exploded in laughter. Not that he was amused. He jumped out of bed and stomped off to the bathroom.

One victory behind her, my mother and herfeather moved to the next bed and my brother Michael, who was nine and equally repelled by a girl in his class. "Now, Mikey, if you don't like Alice Treewater just a smidgen, keep a straight face for me . . ." She kept at it until she broke his resolve. My sister, Marijo, the oldest of us four, no doubt had received the same treatment in her room before Mom had started on us boys. She always went oldest to youngest.

Then it was my turn. "Oh, Johnny boy," she called and danced the feather over my face. "Who do you like? Let me think, could it be Cindy Ann Selahowski?" I grimaced and burrowed my face into the mattress. "Keep a straight face for me if it isn't Cindy Ann Selahowski." Cindy Ann lived next door, and although I was only six and she five, she had already proposed marriage numerous times. My chin trembled as I fought to stay serious. "Is it Cindy Ann? I think it just might be," she said, darting the feather over my nostrils until I dissolved into involuntary giggles.

"Mom!" I protested as I jumped out of bed and into the cool dewy air wafting through the open window, carrying on it the scent of lilacs and fresh-cut grass.

"Get dressed and grab your beer cartons, boys," Mom announced. "We're going to Sainte Anne de Beaupré's today!" My beer carton sat at the foot of my bed, covered in leftover wallpaper, the poor man's version of a footlocker. Not that we were poor, but my parents could not resist the lure of a nickel saved. Each kid had one, and whenever we traveled, our sturdy cardboard cartons doubled as suitcases. Dad liked the way they stacked neatly in the back of the Chevrolet station wagon. Both of them loved that they were completely and utterly free.

Even in our very Catholic neighborhood, all the other families took normal summer vacations, visiting national monuments or amusement parks. Our family traveled to holy miracle sites. We visited shrines and chapels and monasteries. We lit candles and kneeled and prayed at the scenes of alleged divine interventions. The Basilica of Sainte-Anne-de-Beaupré, located on the Saint Lawrence River near Quebec, was one of the grandest miracle sites in all of North America, and it was just a seven-hour drive from our home outside Detroit. For weeks, Mom and Dad had regaled us with tales of the many miracles of healing that had happened there over the centuries, beginning in 1658 when a peasant working on the original church reported a complete cure of his rheumatism as he laid stones in the foundation. "The Lord works in mysterious ways," Dad liked to say.

When I got downstairs with my packed beer carton, Dad already had the tent trailer, in which we would sleep on our expedition, hooked to the back of the station wagon. Mom had sandwiches made, and soon we were off. Sainte-Anne-de-Beaupré did not disappoint. Carved of white stone and sporting twin spires that soared to the heavens, the basilica was the most graceful, imposing building I had ever seen. And inside was better yet: the walls of the main entrance were covered with crutches, canes, leg braces, bandages, and various other implements of infirmity too numerous to count that had been cast off by those Sainte Anne had chosen to cure.

All around us were disabled pilgrims who had come to pray for their own miracles. We lit candles, and then Mom and Dad led us into a pew, where we dropped to our knees and prayed to Sainte Anne, even though none of us had anything that needed fixing. "You need to ask to receive," Mom whispered, and I bowed my head and asked Sainte Anne to let me walk again if I ever lost the use of my legs. Outside, we climbed the hillside to make the Stations of the Cross, pausing to pray at each of the fourteen stops depicting an event in Jesus' final hours. The highlight of the visit was our climb up the twenty-eight steps that were said to be an exact replica of the steps Christ climbed to face Pontius Pilate before his crucifixion. But we didn't just climb the steps. We climbed them on our knees, pausing on each one to say half a Hail Mary aloud. We went in pairs, Mom and Dad first, followed by Marijo and Tim, and behind them, Michael and me. Step One: "Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee; blessed art thou amongst women and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus." As we uttered the name of Jesus, we bowed our heads deeply. Step Two: "Holy Mary, mother of God, pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death, amen." Then we moved to the next step and started again. Over and over we recited the prayer as we slowly made our way to the top, Michael and I jabbing each other and crossing our eyes to see who could make the other laugh first.

The Longest Trip Home. Copyright © by John Grogan. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.

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What People are saying about this

Ann Hood
“With his telltale humor and poignant observations about life and our humanity, John Grogan delivers another emotional wallop here. THE LONGEST TRIP HOME is a must read for anyone who has questioned their faith, sought to understand their identity, and loved their family. In other words, everyone.”

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