The Longest Trip Home

The Longest Trip Home

by John Grogan


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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780061713309
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date: 10/13/2009
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 337
Sales rank: 520,136
Product dimensions: 5.30(w) x 7.90(h) x 0.90(d)

About the Author

John Grogan is the author of the #1 international bestseller Marley & Me: Life and Love with the World's Worst Dog, the bestselling middle-grade memoir Marley: A Dog Like No Other, and three #1 best-selling picture books: Bad Dog, Marley!, A Very Marley Christmas, and Marley Goes to School. John lives with his wife and their three children in the Pennsylvania countryside.

John Grogan ha sido un premiado reportero gráfico y columnista por más de veinticinco años. Vive en Pensilvania con su esposa Jenny y sus tres hijos.


Emmaus, Pennsylvania

Date of Birth:

March 20, 1957

Place of Birth:

Detroit, Michigan


B.A. in Journalism and English, Central Michigan University, 1979; M.A. in Journalism, The Ohio State University, 1986

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.

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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Longest Trip Home 4.1 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 84 reviews.
NotEnufPencils More than 1 year ago
This was the first Grogan book I read. I received it as a reader copy and couldn't put it down. I wish I could come up with something not quite as cliche, something that would inspire you to read this book. Here's what I have and its the truth. I laughed out loud. I cried (in a car with near strangers). In the end, I felt it was a triumph. I would have liked to have known this kid when I was growing up.
TG1965 More than 1 year ago
This book slams it home! I just finished reading it last night and all I can say is "WOW." If you liked Marley & Me, you're gonna like this just as well, if not more. The words and the way that John Grogan writes will have you glued to every single page, and you will be right there with him -- in his parents' living room, at the hospital, at the church, in the garden -- feeling it all as if you were right there with him. It will make you laugh and it will make you cry. He is an amazing, gifted writer and he has a wonderful story to tell. It's probably one of the best and most moving memoirs I have ever read. It's a book that will keep you thinking about him and his wonderful family (and a lot of other things) long after you have read the last page. I sure hope he writes more like this. I would come back for sure.
Frisbeesage More than 1 year ago
I loved Marley and Me because I am a dog person and have had many of the experiences John Grogan wrote about. Having grown up without the influence of religion, I was skeptical that I would find much to relate to or enjoy in The Longest Trip Home.
Turns out The Longest Trip Home is a beautifully written book about the relationships between parents and their children. It¿s about love, disappointment, and accepting people for who they are. None of these are action packed themes and this book's plot is far from fast paced, but Grogan draws you in and makes you feel like a member of his family until you care deeply what happens in the end. His writing style is so smooth and easy to read that you reach the end before you know it. You can expect to shed some tears, but you can expect to laugh a little too.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
John Grogan is a very good writer who is easy to read and follow. I am a big fan of Marley and Me and now The Longest Trip Home. I believe that his story is similar to many other's story of growing up with religion being the priority in the household. Quick, easy and wonderful read for a vacation or weekend.
SqueakyChu on LibraryThing 10 months ago
John Grogan has done it again. He¿s written a book that is sure to cause others to laugh and cry. I liked this book a wee bit less than Marley and Me, but not that much less. Grogan writes, not only about his life, but about common themes in everyone¿s lives. The most notable theme, was his strict Catholic upbringing and the measures he took to finally separate from his parents and become his own person. There is much to laugh about, yet there is also much be serious about when religion has as firm a grasp on a family as Catholicism had on John Grogan¿s. No matter the strife it caused during his formative years, the bottom line turned out to be that, within Grogan¿s family, each member always had much respect for one another and their love for each other carried them shining through to the end. Get your hankies ready, readers.
sharlene_w on LibraryThing 10 months ago
I have to say I really enjoyed this book. Coming from a family with deep religious values myself, it was interesting to read how his faith permeated his life and his relationship with his parents. I was never sure where the book was going, but I enjoyed the ride and the author's humor. The ending was especially touching as the author recounts his experiences with aging parents. Audio version is read by the author.
booksandbosox on LibraryThing 10 months ago
I definitely enjoyed the first half of this book much more than the second. The stories from Grogan's childhood were far more interesting to me than his struggles with faith or the conflicts this caused between himself and his parents. A bit self-indulgent (there's really nothing all that special about his life story) and verbose at times, but not enough to make me want to stop listening. I almost cried at the end but the Catholic-guilt laden prose stopped me. On a more personal note, I CANNOT STAND THE SOUND OF JOHN GROGAN'S VOICE. GET SOMEONE ELSE TO READ THE AUDIO FOR GOODNESS SAKE!
TimBazzett on LibraryThing 10 months ago
Just like Johnny Grogan, I was one of those "good Catholic boys." I could relate to almost all of it - the first confession and communion, the stinging rulers and strict discipline of the teaching nuns (in my case the School Sisters of Notre Dame), the family rosary nights on our knees in the living room during Lent, the altar boy sacristy and sanctuary shenanigans, the confusing onset of puberty with its secret struggles with the sin of "self-abuse" and the half-truths of weekly confessions, and then, finally, as a young man, the guilt-wracked break from all of it. It's very obvious, with the publication of THE LONGEST TRIP HOME, that there's a lot more to John Grogan than that "dog book" which (justly) made him famous. Marley, that notorious "world's worst dog," barely merits a mention in this richly textured memoir of growing up Catholic and working middle class in a northern Detroit suburb. Like me, Grogan attended Catholic school for nine years. His years at the Our Lady of Refuge parish elementary school were mostly happy, with his childhood chums, Tommy, Rock, Sack and Doggy. But his transition to Brother Rice, a prestigious Catholic high school in another town was neither happy nor easy. After a year of this lonely exile, his parents - always perceptive when it most mattered - allowed Grogan to transfer back to West Bloomfield, the local high school where his friends had all gone. This was the beginning of his semi-stoner phase of adolescent rebellion, marked by brushes with local law enforcement and clashes with school officials. During this time he also learned to lie glibly to keep his parents happy. Yes, the good Catholic boy was learning to be bad. Grogan holds nothing back, he is painfully honest about everything in this book, which is precisely what makes it so good! He tells of his first high school kiss, a battle between tongues, lips and metal braces, which leaves him temporarily scarred - and made me laugh out loud. There are more such stories, of teen parties and lost virginity, of newfound popularity, of childhood friends drifting apart. But that's really all just in the first part of the book. The second part - college (CMU, where he cleans up his act and graduates with honors), work and finding true love - is equally honest in all the humor, heartbreak and pathos that is youth. But it is unquestionably the third part of the book that moved me the most. In it, Grogan struggles mightily to reconcile his differences with his still extremely religious parents, and finally, the wrenchingly sad portrayal of his father's final illness. There are a few stand-out scenes in this third, final portion of the book, although all of it is eloquently and heartbreakingly told. One is the evening that John gets out his camcorder and spends two hours interviewing and filming his father, hurting from the tortures of chemotherapy, as he talks about his life, some parts of which the son had never heard. "For two hours Dad talked as I recorded. He described the early blissful years of their marriage in a one-bedroom apartment in Detroit with a cardboard box for a dining-room table. He described their first house, on Pembroke Street in Detroit, and how he built a sandbox in their tiny backyard ... He filled me in on everything he could think of that came before the point where my own memories began. Then he said, 'I'm feeling a little tired now,' and I turned off the camera and watched him, cane in hand, slowly climb the stairs to his bedroom." Another hard scene to read is John sitting at his childhood home one night alone with his alzheimer-ravaged mother, his father in the hospital. It's just five days before Christmas. They talk idly of how there's no snow yet, but maybe soon. "That's when she began to sing. Soft and reedy, her weak voice carrying a certain warble, as if coming from a tiny bird or a little girl. 'I'm dreaming of a White Christmas ...' I marveled at my mother's mind. From what part of her far-away mind had t
burnit99 on LibraryThing 10 months ago
A touching and compelling memoir by the author of "Marley & Me", which I prefer somewhat, but this is pretty good. Grogan's life and upbringing parallel my own in many ways, which added resonance for me, and his father's decline and dying transpired with a firm dignity and love of family that struck me as a pretty decent way to go. Much about Grogan's father reminded me of my own Dad, now 82. We're not exactly touchy-feely either, and it would be nice to be able to do something about that the way I saw John Grogan and his father did as death came ever closer. Grogan has a knack with endings; I did not finish "Marley & Me" or this book dry-eyed.
jocraddock on LibraryThing 10 months ago
Wow! After coming to accept that people my age are now writing their memoirs (and have had enough life to come to some realizations worthy of a memoir), I thoroughly enjoyed this book. The family life, the schools, the issues of the time, are all fully and realistically described. The joy, the angst, the losses and the successes of growing up, of growing older, are wonderfully shared. This ranks as one of the most enjoyable and touching non-fiction books I've read in a long time. Thank you for sharing this journey with us, John Grogan!
mcna217 on LibraryThing 10 months ago
"The Longest Trip Home"by John Grogan is really three books in one. The first book accurately and humorously describes growing up in a devout Catholic family. The second book realistically discusses the author's sometimes painful transition from being his parent's child to becoming his own person. The third, and I think the most powerful book, is the last one. It poignantly chronicles the aging of Mr. Grogan's parents and his relationship with them as they declined. Even though the author often did not agree with them, this section really honors his parents, their enduring marriage, and lifelong religious beliefs. I found this section very moving, and read it with a box of Kleenex nearby.I would enthusiastically recommend "The Longest Trip Home", especially for those readers (like myself) who have elderly parents.
ristaureads on LibraryThing 10 months ago
I loved Marley and Me by Grogan, and while The Longest Trip Home took me longer to get into, once I did I enjoyed this book as well. Grogan recounts his childhood in a very Catholic home. His parents made sure that he and his siblings had a strong religious background, yet as an adult Grogan falls away from the church. This book explores Grogan's relationship with God and his family as he marries, has his own family and eventually watches his father pass away.
Wolson on LibraryThing 10 months ago
This is the story of John Grogan and his life growing up in a devout catholic home and progress's with him through the years into adulthood and starting a family of his own. I waited to read Marley and Me until I finished this book which was great. There was a back story with a touch of Marley included in the book.I found there to be some very funny areas in this book and would recomend those that have read Marley and Me to enjoy this book as well. The author gives you the same feeling in this book as he did in Marley and Me.
yourotherleft on LibraryThing 10 months ago
In The Longest Trip Home, John Grogan maps his journey from his idyllic suburban childhood with his fiercely Catholic parents into his adulthood as a journalist attempting to reconcile his own worldview with his parents' faith. Grogan's childhood in suburban Detroit is the epitome of everything his Catholic parents didn't have in their own childhoods' and wished for their children to have. Their chosen neighborhood is full of green backyards, features a private beach of sorts shared by the whole neighborhood, and most importantly contains a Catholic school to educate their four children. Grogan's childhood is marked by his rebellions both small and large against his parents' rigidly held but well-intentioned Catholic morals. Though Grogan loves and respects his parents and sees them for the good people they are despite and perhaps because of their pious meddling, he can't seem to grasp their faith. Nonetheless, he paves over his indiscretions and lack of belief with lies big and small until, as he grows older and leaves for college, he realizes that he is living two lives in a desperate attempt not to disappoint the people he loves most. When the truth begins to come out, John and his parents will have to find away to cross the divide between his two lives.The Longest Trip Home is a finely wrought tale of growing up. Grogan's anecdotes of his childhood and teenage antics as well as his pleas to God to deliver him from the consequence of his comical missteps are laugh out loud funny. Much more profound, though, is his chronicle of growing up and beginning to understand his parents for who they are and to understand himself in what he cannot share with them. Even so, his story is filled with the love and respect he has for his parents both as a child under their discipline and as an adult who knows that he will never share the intense faith that pervades his parents' lives. Grogan's story comes full circle as he returns, with his brothers and sister, to sit at his father's death bed, and it is here that the book is at its most powerful. John's last moments with his father are rendered so poignantly that I found myself crying as if I knew them both personally. Grogan's memoir is a quiet but powerful tale of what would be an ordinary life and an ordinary family were they not made extraordinary by their great love and Grogan's exemplary writing.
mckait on LibraryThing 10 months ago
This is an enchanting story. I read Marley and Me and loved it, so I was happy to find that John Grogan had written another book. The Longest Trip Home is a simple story of a loving family. That alone makes it somewhat unique as so many of todays memoirs tell of abuse and neglect and love rarely enters in. Grogan has a sort of conversational way of writing that makes you feel as if the story being told is just for you. No pretense, no long tangents that leave you wondering why.. just good solid story. This book takes you from his very Catholic upbringing in a cozy sounding little town, to the moment that most defines us as adults. The death of a parent. He shares the good and the bad, although the bad is perhaps better described as the not so good. His life was fairly typical for the time. A little struggle with the rules, a little pot and memorable friends. I liked Grogan's own family when I read Marley, and This book tells the tale of how John became the man and the father he is today. Love and support being the backbone of his youth. There were no laugh out loud moments as there were in Marley and Me, but there were certainly smile and and nod with understanding moments all through. Oh, and there was of course, a dog.
julyso on LibraryThing 10 months ago
The Longest Trip Home is another wonderful book by author John Grogan. John takes us through his idyllic childhood into his antics as a teenager. We see his struggles with his VERY Catholic parents over religion and his struggles within himself about religion. We see him emerge as a journalist working in newspapers all over the country. He meets the girl of his dreams and starts a family (with a dog!). And, of course, he becomes a best-selling author!Yes, the end of this book brought tears, as did his previous book, Marley and Me (which I loved). This book brought my own memories of growing up and my own struggles to become a person my parents would be proud of. Some parts made me smile, others made me thoughtful, and yes, some even made me cry. A lovely book about a loving family.
detailmuse on LibraryThing 10 months ago
The Longest Trip Home is a heartwarming and highly readable boy-next-door memoir about growing up Catholic in 1960s-70s suburban Detroit. It¿s also about growing independent from family and away from faith, and, decades later, facing parental health declines.Simply written and straightforward in structure, the book¿s appeal is its universality -- that every ordinary life is filled with interesting and meaningful moments. That said, Grogan sometimes seems to lose sight of the reader while the book segues into more of a Grogan family-history project than a memoir for public consumption. Still, his story is fun and touching and like mine in so many ways that I recommended this book to my siblings and cousins.
24girl on LibraryThing 10 months ago
I absolutely loved Marley & Me so I jumped at the chance to read this book and I wasn't disappointed. John Grogan is an incredible writer with the gift of pulling the heartstrings. While reading this memoir it seemed as if I was constantly laughing, cringing with embarrassment for John or tearing up. I highly recommend this book to all readers of both fiction and non-fiction and it¿s a must for anyone who read Marley & Me.
whitreidtan on LibraryThing 10 months ago
Well-known for his heartwarming and charming book about his mischievious, entertaining, and wholely unrepentant dog, Marley, in Marley and Me, Grogan has written an equally charming story about his childhood and coming of age as a son in The Longest Road Home.Growing up in suburban Detroit to devout Catholic parents, Grogan's memoir opens with his mother waking the four children for their summer vacation, driving to see a saint's shrine 7 hours away. This sort of religious devotion was a part and parcel of Grogan's idyllic childhood. He went to Catholic school, served as an altar boy, and attended Mass almost daily. But he was definitely not a sedate Catholic school boy, drinking the communion wine, trying to grow a marijuana plant in his garden, coming up with ways to torment the neighborhood's crotchety old man, and publishing an underground student newspaper among other boyish misdeeds. He chronicles high jinks and high spirits and his parents' unwavering faith in and unstinting loyalty to him, despite his "stretching" of the truth.Grogan doesn't shy away from admitting that he falls away from his parents' faith early and only maintains a facade for them because he doesn't want to disillusion them. As an adult, he starts to make more and more choices at odds with the Church's teachings and it is only through looking dispassionately at his choices and at why he has made them, despite his parents' disappointments, that he comes to a full sense of who he is and how he is still inextricably bound to his loving and forgiving family. While he may not have grown into the faithful Catholic they had hoped to raise, I feel certain that his parents were and are proud of the man he became.In some way, Grogan has written a memoir of every man. His mother and father are vividly and lovingly drawn. His rambunctious childhood reflects so many others' and highlights the best of a middle class Midwestern upbringing. There is a sweet poignancy in his chronicling, a hearkening back to a sweet and uncomplicated time. But there is a desperation as well, especially once the memoir moves into the realm of John's adulthood. The reader knows that his octogenarian father's advancing leukemia is dangerous and terrifying and that his parents' advancing ages, slowing down, and the scattering of his siblings and his childhood friends are all inevitable parts of his life.Beautifully written, this is a paean to a past childhood, to his parents' faithful religion, and to the coming of age of a son who is resigned to not being the man his parents envisioned but who is a good human being even so. Like Marley and Me, this is an accessible and charming memoir and readers will not regret an afternoon spent with the Grogan family.
fig2 on LibraryThing 10 months ago
Grogan, of Marley & Me fame, returns to his youth here. As a young boy born into a devout Catholic family, Grogan grows to question his faith. He struggles for acceptance from his parents, even as he separates from them as a man with little religious conventions. Sweet, funny, sad and touching, this memoir shows how love and opposing religions can co-exist.
frisbeesage on LibraryThing 10 months ago
I loved Marley and Me because I am a dog person and have had many of the experiences John Grogan wrote about. Having grown up without the influence of religion, I was skeptical that I would find much to relate to or enjoy in The Longest Trip Home. Turns out The Longest Trip Home is a beautifully written book about the relationships between parents and their children. It¿s about love, disappointment, and accepting people for who they are. None of these are action packed themes and this book's plot is far from fast paced, but Grogan draws you in and makes you feel like a member of his family until you care deeply what happens in the end. His writing style is so smooth and easy to read that you reach the end before you know it. You can expect to shed some tears, but you can expect to laugh a little too.
Suzieqkc on LibraryThing 10 months ago
John Grogan, author of Marley and Me, has written a memoir of his life growing up in a suburb of Detroit. His parents raised their four children to be devout Catholics, but the kids weren't always cooperative. John probably skipped more masses than he attended. His mother's mode of home decor was 'Catholic church chic'--statues and pictures of Mary and Jesus and crucifixes were in every room. In addition to the humorous events in John's young life are poignant interchanges with each of his parents as he reaches his twenties and thirties. Many of us are getting to the age where we are becoming our parents' caretakers. Grogan opens his family's door and lets us see how deftly he handled that stage in his parents' lives.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Wonderfully written... change the names and the locale to Brooklyn...The Sisters of Mercy, My Catholic upbringing startling similar! Thoroughly enjoyable read!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago