Sheehan has a painful story to tell about missed connections, fallible parents, the currents of rage and longing that both separate and bind family members and he tells it beautifully, with grace and insight and unflinching honesty.
Andrew Sheehan's Chasing the Hawk is a courageously candid account of a son's relationship with his father. A uniquely individual story, written with clarity and grace, it is also a moving reflection on the universal struggle to reconcile truth and love. This is a book that should be read by every father, and every son, and every person who wishes to understand how human frailty and failure can be transformed by honesty, forgiveness and hope. It is one of those rare books that will remain with me for the rest of my life.
Andrew Sheehan’s writing sparkles with the pain and beauty of truth. Chasing the Hawk is a love story that ebbs with gentle complexity before crashing head-long against the rocky shores of fathers and sons.
A truly beautiful book ... Sheehan has gone straight to the heart of the matter and has written one of the best father-son books ever.
This is a thank-you note to Andrew Sheehan for putting down the glass and taking up the pen to write his story, Chasing the Hawk. Yes, it’s an old story drink and recovery from drink, loss of faith and recovery of faith. The ingredients are Irish and Catholic the American variety but the writing is fresh and clean as a Hail Mary pass.
This book is so profound and moving that it would bring tears to a statue. Sheehan is a man who drank and sank and resurfaced to find and finally embrace his distant, dying father. A triumphant love story with victory over alcohol, over anger, over depression, over self. This book is for those who have loved and lost and for those who have loved and won.
Unblinking honesty is the hallmark of journalist Sheehan's searing examination of his demons, of his father and of their joint redemption. That honesty is one among many blessings and burdens passed down by Sheehan's father, George, an Irish Catholic cardiologist who drummed a creed of duty, hard work, success and large families into his son and found salvation through running, becoming a leading spokesperson for the sport in America in the 1970s. In Sheehan's portrait, George was a solitary man not temperamentally suited to being a father, who thrived on exploring new ideas and resented having so many of his life choices made for him. When George discovered his passion for running, his emotional neglect of his family grew in direct proportion to his surging fame as a running guru. Father and son may have shared running (Sheehan's stories of the marathons they ran together are particularly fresh), but that was not enough to satisfy Andrew's growing need for approval and support as a teenager. Emotionally adrift, he turned to beer and drugs in earnest upon entering college. Although the spiral of dependence and denial that ensued will be familiar to friends and families of alcoholics, what distinguishes Sheehan's memoir is his steady calibration of the shifting emotional temperatures within the complex yet surprisingly sturdy Sheehan family. Years of repressed knowledge emerge with startling eloquence at unexpected moments: at Sheehan's first wedding, Andrew's mother tells his bride, "Give him plenty of love. Because he never got any." Readers will find their sympathies vacillating as the stakes rise with infidelities, pledges to reform, resentments and confrontations, until Sheehan'sintense and lyrical writing leads readers to appreciate not only the intricate interdependence in the Sheehan household but also the force of will necessary to break patterns that imprisoned them for decades. (Sept. 11) Forecast: Blurbs from Frank McCourt, Malachy McCourt and Caroline Knapp will help draw attention to this turbulent tale of an Irish Catholic family in crisis. Those who revered George Sheehan as a running guru will also be rewarded with much to ponder about the private man. Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
"I had always chased my father, chased after his love, chased him through his many changes. I chased him even when I thought I was running in the other direction. Today, even though he is gone, I chase him still. I know he is the key to my freedom." Andrew Sheehan's father was Dr. George Sheehan, a physician well known in the 1970s for his syndicated column popularizing running as a fitness activity. After achieving fame, he left his profession to become a full-time writer and motivational speaker; he also neglected, and eventually left, his wife and children. As a teenager, Andrew, who shared his father's love of running, repeatedly sought his father's love and approval. Disillusioned, he turned to drugs and alcohol, becoming an alcoholic in his twenties. During his father's final years, Andrew, now a journalist, realized he needed to understand his father in order to understand himself. This beautifully told story of loss, pain, and recovery is reminiscent of Christopher Dickey's Summer of Deliverance (LJ 7/98). George Sheehan himself wrote of his final struggle with cancer and his reconciliation with his family in Going the Distance (LJ 3/15/96). Recommended for all libraries. Lucille M. Boone, San Jose P.L., CA Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
Like father, like son. Newspaperman Sheehan's potent memoir finds a lot of unfortunate parallels between his own and his father's lives: drinking gone sour, marriages abandoned, a furious pursuit of freedom that turned both remote, then solitary. Sheehan always remembers running after the love of his father. George was a doctor, son of a New York Irish doctor, who worked dawn to dark to get beyond what he saw as the confines of his heritage. He was an absence to his 12 children, and Andrew, smack in the middle, acutely felt the lack of attention. Sheehan tries to get a grasp of the situation by exploring how his father's sense of insecurity and inadequacy might have made him unapproachable. The two shared time together, but never enough. And there was alcohol: "Even in temperate Irish households, alcohol was always a presence, a specter from the past kept at bay, in hope that if no one acknowledges it, the beast will just someday roll over and die." For neither man was it so temperate. Worse still, when George gained fame as a running guru in the 1960s, he started to pursue women, forsaking his family. His mother would always accept him back, but after he had entered into the family's midst, he would take what he wanted and then leave again. Sheehan follows along in his father's footsteps: a runner, a writer, an escaper from responsibility and from his own emotional life. As the son gathers the rubble of his life, George discovers he has inoperable prostate cancer. He wakes up to the glory of his family, and the pages devoted to this time are heartbreaking in their beauty and unadorned brevity. Enough ache here to fill more than a lifetime, albeit with reconciliation at theend and a "father who wondered at the beauty of his son and could claim no influence."