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Meet the Grogans Before there was Marley, there was a gleefully mischievous boy navigating his way through the seismic social upheaval of the 1960s. On the one side were his loving but comically traditional parents, whose expectations were clear. On the other were his neighborhood pals and all the misdeeds that followed. The more young John tried to straddle these two world Meet the Grogans Before there was Marley, there was a gleefully mischievous boy navigating his way through the seismic social upheaval of the 1960s. On the one side were his loving but comically traditional parents, whose expectations were clear. On the other were his neighborhood pals and all the misdeeds that followed. The more young John tried to straddle these two worlds, the more spectacularly, and hilariously, he failed. Told with Grogan's trademark humor and affection, The Longest Trip Home is the story of one son's journey into adulthood to claim his place in the world. It is a story of faith and reconciliation, breaking away and finding the way home again, and learning in the end that a family's love will triumph over its differences.


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Meet the Grogans Before there was Marley, there was a gleefully mischievous boy navigating his way through the seismic social upheaval of the 1960s. On the one side were his loving but comically traditional parents, whose expectations were clear. On the other were his neighborhood pals and all the misdeeds that followed. The more young John tried to straddle these two world Meet the Grogans Before there was Marley, there was a gleefully mischievous boy navigating his way through the seismic social upheaval of the 1960s. On the one side were his loving but comically traditional parents, whose expectations were clear. On the other were his neighborhood pals and all the misdeeds that followed. The more young John tried to straddle these two worlds, the more spectacularly, and hilariously, he failed. Told with Grogan's trademark humor and affection, The Longest Trip Home is the story of one son's journey into adulthood to claim his place in the world. It is a story of faith and reconciliation, breaking away and finding the way home again, and learning in the end that a family's love will triumph over its differences.

30 review for The Longest Trip Home: A Memoir

  1. 5 out of 5

    Tattered Cover Book Store

    This is an extremely delightful book--Grogan writes about his childhood and deeply religious upbringing in true ornery schoolboy style, varnishing nothing. To say he was a handful would be a gross understatement-- he certainly lived an exuberant childhood, the tales from which are PG13 to NR17 in nature but funny as all get out. There are also tough issues being discussed here--becoming okay with being a person other than the one your parents wanted you to be, and, eventually dealing with aging This is an extremely delightful book--Grogan writes about his childhood and deeply religious upbringing in true ornery schoolboy style, varnishing nothing. To say he was a handful would be a gross understatement-- he certainly lived an exuberant childhood, the tales from which are PG13 to NR17 in nature but funny as all get out. There are also tough issues being discussed here--becoming okay with being a person other than the one your parents wanted you to be, and, eventually dealing with aging parents illnesses and death. The last few chapters, which deal with the death of his father, are full of a painful honesty that will cement me as a fan of this writer for life--I was in his shoes and can tell you that he held nothing back and puts you in a moment you hope to never face but that has a beauty and purity to it that enriches your life in numorous ways. I truly cannot recommend this book enough, the laughter AND the tears. Jackie

  2. 5 out of 5

    Lisa

    I loved Marley and Me--but this book was quite different. In fairness, I didn't get close to finishing it, but I could see this was not my type of book. This book could be subtitled, "Catholic School Boys Behaving Badly". As a teacher and a parent, I can never enjoy seeing kids making bad choices. As someone raised as a Catholic, and almost the same age as Grogan, I did laugh about lying in confession because I think that happened a lot. I don't know how the Catholic Church is managing confession I loved Marley and Me--but this book was quite different. In fairness, I didn't get close to finishing it, but I could see this was not my type of book. This book could be subtitled, "Catholic School Boys Behaving Badly". As a teacher and a parent, I can never enjoy seeing kids making bad choices. As someone raised as a Catholic, and almost the same age as Grogan, I did laugh about lying in confession because I think that happened a lot. I don't know how the Catholic Church is managing confession these days, but Church leaders should read this book and make changes that would help religion to really be an effective, powerful, and positive force in the lives of its members. I do know a lot of Catholics who are faithful members who really believe and their faith is a positive force in their lives. However, I have met many Catholics who just go through the motions without letting their faith/religion positively effect them. I always figured they were just checking things off of their to-do list to get into heaven. They could have so much more. Growing up I saw a lot of Catholic School kids rebelling--just like John Grogan. It makes me wonder why? The only thing I can think of is that the kids never saw the love of Jesus Christ, but instead saw the lack of love in the actions of certain nuns. Hopefully, the Catholic Schools are doing better in showing and teaching Gospel love. Back in 1978 I taught in an intercity Catholic school and I loved everyone of my children and made sure they knew it. They loved me too. I thought the nuns there were really nice--the other teachers were too. In this book, John Grogan was quick to take the Savior's name in vain. That is something I have never understood. If you are religious, why would you take the sacred name of the Lord in vain? Now, if you aren't religious, why would you even think to say his name? So this book was just painful for me to read and so I just stopped reading. Maybe in his next book, Grogan will write about his experience with organic gardening--now there is a topic I can really enjoy!

  3. 5 out of 5

    Jean

    John Grogan has written another best selling book. This time, instead of stealing the hearts of his readers with a lovable,adventurous mutt, Grogan stole the hearts of his readers by writing about his family. The story of his childhood and growing up in a strict Catholic family made me laugh and the struggles of his parents late in life made me cry. Anyone who grew up in a strict Catholic family can see their own family on these pages. You will relate to the parents wanting the best for their John Grogan has written another best selling book. This time, instead of stealing the hearts of his readers with a lovable,adventurous mutt, Grogan stole the hearts of his readers by writing about his family. The story of his childhood and growing up in a strict Catholic family made me laugh and the struggles of his parents late in life made me cry. Anyone who grew up in a strict Catholic family can see their own family on these pages. You will relate to the parents wanting the best for their children. You will cheer the adventures of the children as they attempt to forge their own identities and their own beliefs. In summary, this book was about love and admiration a father for his son and the son for his father. Though they saw things through different eyes, the loves they had for each other poured out of this book. I enjoyed reading this book and had a very difficult time putting it down, and I was sorry when I reached the end. I can't wait to see what John Grogan writes next.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Mary Catherine Hutchings

    this book really touched me. i laughed and i cried. it was a true spiritual experience for me. i grew up in a very catholic family and had many similar memories. john grogans portrayal of his father was truly a labor of love. the catholic church is not perfect but this devout catholic man was the church to his family. i want to have that kind of faith and peace.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Laura McHale Holland

    I listened to an audio version of the book read by the author, which is a very different experience than reading, of course. So I have no idea whether I'd be gripped by the prose on the pages of this book. But, as a listener, I was pulled in entirely. I felt almost like I became part of the Grogan clan as John shared episode after episode of his life growing up in a Catholic family so devout, their family vacations consisted primarily of driving to religious shrines! So his relationship to the C I listened to an audio version of the book read by the author, which is a very different experience than reading, of course. So I have no idea whether I'd be gripped by the prose on the pages of this book. But, as a listener, I was pulled in entirely. I felt almost like I became part of the Grogan clan as John shared episode after episode of his life growing up in a Catholic family so devout, their family vacations consisted primarily of driving to religious shrines! So his relationship to the Catholic church: going to Catholic school, being an alter boy (who, with his friends, sneaks swigs of the wine, and once, while carrying a candle down the aisle, trips and burns himself while eyeing a girl he has a crush on), trying to live up to his parents' expectations, but being a mischievous, curious, normal boy, finding it impossible—this background is important to the book, as he grows up, goes to college, begins his journalism career, falls in love and follow his own beliefs, which differ from his parents. Amazingly, once on his own, he keeps the fact that he is no longer a practicing Catholic secret from his parents until he's in his 30s. (I mean, seriously? What kind of wimp does that?) And the book shows how his relationship with his parents continues to evolve as he becomes a husband and father, and as his parents go through the inevitable aging process. But it's not really what happens that matters in this book, although many of the events are highly entertaining. It's John Grogan's depiction of all the people who have touched his life, from his family, to his boyhood friends, his first love and his wife. All of them are so well drawn that it's spellbinding. I sort of fell in love with John Grogan as I listened along. He showed his flaws; he didn't try to make himself seem better than he is. He could have been the boy next door you never noticed but turned out to be the one who noticed everything that really mattered.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Sheila

    This is a wonderful memoir about families, faith, and trying to live your own life as an adult with different values than your parents. John Grogan's parents were very devout Catholics, and John was raised in this environment. But as he came of age in the 1970's, his world view changed, and he came to see there was more to the world than just the strict, sheltered Catholic family and school life he was raised in. But as many people may relate to, having your own values and life is one thing, ope This is a wonderful memoir about families, faith, and trying to live your own life as an adult with different values than your parents. John Grogan's parents were very devout Catholics, and John was raised in this environment. But as he came of age in the 1970's, his world view changed, and he came to see there was more to the world than just the strict, sheltered Catholic family and school life he was raised in. But as many people may relate to, having your own values and life is one thing, openly sharing these things with your strict, devout parents is another, especially when sharing them causes your parents to greatly express their grief and disappointment in the path you are chosing. A wonderful read, with an emotional ending as John's father becomes terminally ill. I highly recommend this book. John's honesty is refreshing, and his writing style keeps you engrossed.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Bill

    I have to admit, I just don't understand why people write memoirs about their wholeheartedly unspectacular lives. I have to admit, I just don't understand why people write memoirs about their wholeheartedly unspectacular lives.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Linda

    This delightfully readable book had me doing a lot of self reflection about religion and parenting. I especially enjoyed the memories it elicited of my own upbringing, as I am near the age of the author.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Jodi

    Wow! Grogan can make me laugh, and cry buckets all in one book. He managed to do that to me in "Marley and Me" and now in this book. I was prepared for the laughs with both books but not the tears. "Marley" I read after my dog died and it was such a good book during that time - healing and theraputic. I did not expect the tears though in this book.......I guess I should have given the way it started. I could feel deeply all the feelings Grogan did because like him, I watched my father weaken and Wow! Grogan can make me laugh, and cry buckets all in one book. He managed to do that to me in "Marley and Me" and now in this book. I was prepared for the laughs with both books but not the tears. "Marley" I read after my dog died and it was such a good book during that time - healing and theraputic. I did not expect the tears though in this book.......I guess I should have given the way it started. I could feel deeply all the feelings Grogan did because like him, I watched my father weaken and die from cancer - it is truly a horrible thing to see one's parent weaken to the point they become bed-ridden. Even though I knew my father was in a better place free from his pain and failing body, I still felt such an ache after he left us - still do - Haven't felt that ache for awhile but Grogan definitely brought those feelings to the surface. Now, don't get me wrong, this book is not depressing, but is so wonderfully written that the reader can relate to the author and his feelings. Aside from the loss of our fathers, I could also relate to Grogan's Catholic guilt! Too funny!!! I so loved Grogan's first confession - priceless! Finally, I loved the advice Grogan got from his therapist - "I was who I was, and ......it was now up to my parents to accept their son, or not, for the man he had become." Amen! Beautifully put! Superbly written!

  10. 5 out of 5

    Gaby

    I hadn't yet read Marley & Me, I found The Longest Trip Home to be a wonderful introduction to John Grogan's narrative voice. Grogan is sympathetic, funny and witty as he shares the anecdotes and the milestones in his life. We first meet Grogan as a six-year old being woken up in the morning by his mother with a feather duster, surrounded by his siblings. With affection and love, he shares the particular nuances of his childhood as he was raised by deeply Catholic (with icons, pilgrimages, and fa I hadn't yet read Marley & Me, I found The Longest Trip Home to be a wonderful introduction to John Grogan's narrative voice. Grogan is sympathetic, funny and witty as he shares the anecdotes and the milestones in his life. We first meet Grogan as a six-year old being woken up in the morning by his mother with a feather duster, surrounded by his siblings. With affection and love, he shares the particular nuances of his childhood as he was raised by deeply Catholic (with icons, pilgrimages, and faith), principled and loving parents. The institution of the Catholic Church and its teachings were a large part of his life from his childhood as an altar boy and in parochial schools to the discussions that he had with his parents when he and Jenny started living together before marriage. John shares how he balanced respecting his parents' faith and his own beliefs and how at all times they respected his individuality and his independence. It is a story of love, respect, and growing up. Skillfully done, The Longest Trip Home is an enjoyable glimpse into a well lived lives full of humor, affection and adventure. Publisher: Harper Paperbacks; Reprint edition (October 13, 2009), 352 pages. Review copy provided by the publisher and TLC Book Tours.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Wanda

    John Grogan, author of Marley and Me, writes a memoir of his life with his strongly cultural Roman Catholic family, and his growing up in Michigan. As in Marley and Me, Grogan plucks at our heartstrings. This is a well written and thoughtful book, that draws in the reader quickly and is a fast and entertaining read. Grogan is brutally honest and does not spare himself, giving us the unvarnished truth about telling lies in confession, sneaking cigarettes and later pot, and generally coming of age John Grogan, author of Marley and Me, writes a memoir of his life with his strongly cultural Roman Catholic family, and his growing up in Michigan. As in Marley and Me, Grogan plucks at our heartstrings. This is a well written and thoughtful book, that draws in the reader quickly and is a fast and entertaining read. Grogan is brutally honest and does not spare himself, giving us the unvarnished truth about telling lies in confession, sneaking cigarettes and later pot, and generally coming of age in a family that is almost stifling in its religious fervor. An intelligent guy, Grogan rebels against the R.C. church dictating every aspect of his life, and he describes the tension that pervades his relationship with his parents over his lack of faith, in a candid way. He is at once understanding of and frustrated with his parents, but he loves them, and family love trumps all. This is a book about relationships and the power of forgiveness and tolerance and as such is quite a beautiful reminiscence.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Elizabeth

    With the signature sensitivity and humor that Grogan expressed in "Marley and Me", Grogan describes his life growing up in a strict Catholic family and the journey home when his father is ailing. I listened to this (Grogan reads)and there were laugh out loud moments! I totally understood Grogan's need to go to mass toward the end of the book. It is the "Once a Catholic, Always a Catholic feeling" that I can relate to. I have so many problems with the Catholic Church and yet attending a mass can With the signature sensitivity and humor that Grogan expressed in "Marley and Me", Grogan describes his life growing up in a strict Catholic family and the journey home when his father is ailing. I listened to this (Grogan reads)and there were laugh out loud moments! I totally understood Grogan's need to go to mass toward the end of the book. It is the "Once a Catholic, Always a Catholic feeling" that I can relate to. I have so many problems with the Catholic Church and yet attending a mass can be such a comfort after being raised in the faith. The ending with his mother was poignant and lovely. All of us who are dealing with the ups and downs of assisting and loving aging parents (and aging sibling and selves!) can relate to this memoir.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Kath

    This is a beautiful book. Totally different to 'Marley and Me' but written with such poignancy and love. Grogan does not share his parents' devout Catholicism but never veers into sarcasm; he just tells their story and describes the enviable warmth that the family share. I must admit to shedding tears at the end but it is not a sad book and there is plenty of humour too. This is a beautiful book. Totally different to 'Marley and Me' but written with such poignancy and love. Grogan does not share his parents' devout Catholicism but never veers into sarcasm; he just tells their story and describes the enviable warmth that the family share. I must admit to shedding tears at the end but it is not a sad book and there is plenty of humour too.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Cathyg

    Having grown up in a Catholic family around the same period, I could really relate to some of the stories. I laughed out loud quite a bit. The relationship between father and son was very endearing, and I cried near the end.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Kristi

    I don't think I've cried so much over a book. I laughed quite a bit too. And I miss my mom and dad something terrible. A memory stirrer.... and such a lovely, lovely, touching book. I don't think I've cried so much over a book. I laughed quite a bit too. And I miss my mom and dad something terrible. A memory stirrer.... and such a lovely, lovely, touching book.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Jan Grant

    If you grew up Catholic, you had to read this book. It's wonderful. If you grew up Catholic, you had to read this book. It's wonderful.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Becca

    3.5 - rounded up to 4. I laughed hard and cried hard. John Grogan is a talented storyteller. His memoir is not a "must-read right now," but it was very enjoyable and recommendable. I related well to his Catholic upbringing (although my parents are not nearly as devote as his) and his eventual fallout from Catholicism. 3.5 - rounded up to 4. I laughed hard and cried hard. John Grogan is a talented storyteller. His memoir is not a "must-read right now," but it was very enjoyable and recommendable. I related well to his Catholic upbringing (although my parents are not nearly as devote as his) and his eventual fallout from Catholicism.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Christine Norman

    Throughout the entire book I was rooting for the conservative ultra-catholic parents who from the author's perspective loved God, the church, and their family. Somehow they were not able to pass the love of God and church onto their children. I was left wondering how the children could reject their parents deeply held beliefs so completely. The author describes his bent for exploring mischief, sex, and drugs from an early age, but doesn't satisfactorily explain why he rejected his parent's deepl Throughout the entire book I was rooting for the conservative ultra-catholic parents who from the author's perspective loved God, the church, and their family. Somehow they were not able to pass the love of God and church onto their children. I was left wondering how the children could reject their parents deeply held beliefs so completely. The author describes his bent for exploring mischief, sex, and drugs from an early age, but doesn't satisfactorily explain why he rejected his parent's deeply held beliefs so completely. As a parent, I found it to be one of the saddest of all stories.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Linda Wright

    The Longest Trip Home by John Grogan "Heaven was not a paradise reserved for the exclusive use of any one religion. The Lord could not be that unfair. There could be either one God who loved everybody the same or no God at all." The Longest Trip Home is John Grogan's of Marley and Me fame, account of growing up in the 1960's in the suburbs of Detroit. His childhood antics, in a simpler time without cell phones or computers to distract were totally relatable to me. I grew up in the similar Midwest The Longest Trip Home by John Grogan "Heaven was not a paradise reserved for the exclusive use of any one religion. The Lord could not be that unfair. There could be either one God who loved everybody the same or no God at all." The Longest Trip Home is John Grogan's of Marley and Me fame, account of growing up in the 1960's in the suburbs of Detroit. His childhood antics, in a simpler time without cell phones or computers to distract were totally relatable to me. I grew up in the similar Midwest suburbs of nearby Cleveland. John's parents were devote Catholics and everything about their lives and how they raised their children was steeped in serving the Lord. I cracked up when the altar boys finished off what was left of the communion wine after Mass. John and his siblings often had to be on their best behavior because a priest was a frequent dinner guest. A crucifix was a wall decoration in every room of the house. I too, was raised in a home where my mother dragged us to church every Sunday. We weren't Catholic but Presbyterian. We served grape juice at communion which is boring by comparison. But when John graduated from college and started life on his own, he began to examine his own feelings about religion and faith. Whether it was the times or the faith based foundation, I found myself searching for the same things in that period of my life. What sealed the deal for me in this book, was how John dealt with his father's illness and his mother's dementia in later years. There is no guidebook for this and he struggled in the same ways I struggled to care for my parents and step mother. He floundered at times and I finally felt that I wasn't alone because I did my fair share of doubting and floundering in similar situations too. Our parents give us what they can and the rest is up to us. The Longest Trip Home is a great story that I'm certain most baby boomers can find something within its pages to laugh about, cry about and reflect on. I'm so glad I read this.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Anne

    The audio book version of The Longest Trip Home: A Memoir is read by the author, which I think adds a sense of authenticity and an almost intimacy with the author because you can actually hear the story in his own words. Author John Grogan's second book, following Marley Me, is the funny, moving, and at times almost heartbreaking story of a son and his relationship with his father. At times I laughed out loud listening to the author's adventures and misadventures growing up in Michigan followed b The audio book version of The Longest Trip Home: A Memoir is read by the author, which I think adds a sense of authenticity and an almost intimacy with the author because you can actually hear the story in his own words. Author John Grogan's second book, following Marley Me, is the funny, moving, and at times almost heartbreaking story of a son and his relationship with his father. At times I laughed out loud listening to the author's adventures and misadventures growing up in Michigan followed by his journey as an adult into new worlds and responsibilities far away from home, with experiences and life choices his father would have never have envisioned for his son.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Pat Herndon

    John Grogan has such a personal style of warmth in his writing. Just as I enjoyed every minute of the book Marley & Me, I enjoyed The Longest Trip Home. Although it seems odd to compare a troubled and loving relationship with parents to a troubled and loving relationship with a dog, I noted that the story arcs are similar in each book. Just as I began to really love his amazing parents, I realized where the story was heading and joined John and his siblings in their concern and eventual mourning John Grogan has such a personal style of warmth in his writing. Just as I enjoyed every minute of the book Marley & Me, I enjoyed The Longest Trip Home. Although it seems odd to compare a troubled and loving relationship with parents to a troubled and loving relationship with a dog, I noted that the story arcs are similar in each book. Just as I began to really love his amazing parents, I realized where the story was heading and joined John and his siblings in their concern and eventual mourning. Soon after I finished this book, my own family got into a discussion over religion and its role in our lives, particularly when different family members have different definitions of faith. This book illustrates that we can love and we can disagree and some of us are simply destined to be unsure. I think a book like this brings some comfort to those of us who question by nature, if only to confirm that we are not alone, nor are we doomed to a dismal life. A loving, supportive family is an invaluable aspect of a wonderful life. The Longest Trip Home illustrates this point very well.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Tara

    When you're getting to know a person, finding out about their past and even a little bit of their personal misdeeds can be endearing. Or, they can share so much information about themselves that you feel uncomfortable and eager for the conversation to end. Think of this book as the latter. I was listening to this book on CD and I couldn't get past the 1st CD. There is a lot of detail which, at the beginning drew me in and I was very interested in this person's life. As it went on, though, too ma When you're getting to know a person, finding out about their past and even a little bit of their personal misdeeds can be endearing. Or, they can share so much information about themselves that you feel uncomfortable and eager for the conversation to end. Think of this book as the latter. I was listening to this book on CD and I couldn't get past the 1st CD. There is a lot of detail which, at the beginning drew me in and I was very interested in this person's life. As it went on, though, too many details emerged and I started wishing that I didn't know quite so much information about the author. I really didn't want to know about the sins this guy committed as a 7-year-old and a 10-year-old. The foreshadowing seemed to indicate that the book would follow the same pattern and I stopped listening before I was forced to sit through a life's worth of confessions. I picked up this book because I loved Marly and Me, but this book wasn't worth my time.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Christi

    Having not read his first book, I was unsure exactly what to expect from this book. I absolutely loved it! Perhaps it helped that John Grogan grew up in the area immediately surrounding where my family and I now live and so I have a familiarity to the places he was describing. Or perhaps it was that I was raised Catholic and attended parochial school. Whatever the case, I found myself enraptured by this memoir and enchanted by Grogan's writing style. I loved his use of metaphor in so many areas Having not read his first book, I was unsure exactly what to expect from this book. I absolutely loved it! Perhaps it helped that John Grogan grew up in the area immediately surrounding where my family and I now live and so I have a familiarity to the places he was describing. Or perhaps it was that I was raised Catholic and attended parochial school. Whatever the case, I found myself enraptured by this memoir and enchanted by Grogan's writing style. I loved his use of metaphor in so many areas of this book. I can't wait until Book Club on Wednesday night to see how everyone else liked it.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Kim

    The first half of the book was unreadable. I really don't care to read about his adolescent forays into being what he thinks is a "bad boy." The ending part of the book dealing with the illness and passing of his father moved me. But even then the overall pervasive feeling of "It's all about me!" does not do justice to the life well-lived by his father. He speaks of how handsome his father looked on the 25th anniversary at GM but he does not include a photo. The first half of the book was unreadable. I really don't care to read about his adolescent forays into being what he thinks is a "bad boy." The ending part of the book dealing with the illness and passing of his father moved me. But even then the overall pervasive feeling of "It's all about me!" does not do justice to the life well-lived by his father. He speaks of how handsome his father looked on the 25th anniversary at GM but he does not include a photo.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Amy

    Another emotional roller coaster from the author of "Marley Me" -- this story makes you laugh and cry. It is the story of his life and that's all I'm going to say. You'll have to read the book to learn more. Another emotional roller coaster from the author of "Marley Me" -- this story makes you laugh and cry. It is the story of his life and that's all I'm going to say. You'll have to read the book to learn more.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Kalyn OByrne

    This book is so funny. I loved it. Fantastic Author

  27. 5 out of 5

    Karen

    I really enjoyed John's writing style. He made me laugh and cry as I related to many of his stories about growing up Catholic and the death of his Dad. I really enjoyed John's writing style. He made me laugh and cry as I related to many of his stories about growing up Catholic and the death of his Dad.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Tim

    First book by Grogan that I've read, missed "Marley and Me" altogether. Quite a great story. From the rawness of a childhood encountering discipline, belief, and foolishness, to the power of hormones as he becomes a teen. Only then do the themes become more clear as to where the rest of the story will lead. A young adult having to determine his own beliefs, all the more challenging due to his parent's strong codes of faith and life. I remember one paragraph or two, "30 years old and still lying to First book by Grogan that I've read, missed "Marley and Me" altogether. Quite a great story. From the rawness of a childhood encountering discipline, belief, and foolishness, to the power of hormones as he becomes a teen. Only then do the themes become more clear as to where the rest of the story will lead. A young adult having to determine his own beliefs, all the more challenging due to his parent's strong codes of faith and life. I remember one paragraph or two, "30 years old and still lying to my mother!" The nuance is that it is part fear, and part love that brings about avoiding a confrontation. Good stuff - the circumstances that are repeated generation after generation for a lot of folks. Then the tough part, caring for parents as they age, become frail, and finally leave the stage. Brought about a bit of red eyes and swollen throat.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Joanie

    I struggled with this memoir because I love John Grogan's writing, but I think he unfairly blames his parents for his lapsed faith. His parents, Richard and Ruth Grogan, we devout Catholics, and they tried to raise their four children in the faith. Sadly, their kids -- Tim, Michael, Marijo and John each became disenchanted with the Catholic Church for various reasons, and became lapsed Catholics. Much of the book is spent with John making fun of his parent's devotion to their faith and its pract I struggled with this memoir because I love John Grogan's writing, but I think he unfairly blames his parents for his lapsed faith. His parents, Richard and Ruth Grogan, we devout Catholics, and they tried to raise their four children in the faith. Sadly, their kids -- Tim, Michael, Marijo and John each became disenchanted with the Catholic Church for various reasons, and became lapsed Catholics. Much of the book is spent with John making fun of his parent's devotion to their faith and its practices as well as making fun of their devotion to family life and discipline. By the end of the book when his father's mortality is clearly evident, Grogan is increasingly aware of the gifts his parents (especially his dad) gave him, but I grew frustrated in reading this memoir that it took him so long to recognize it.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Kristin

    In college, I was a frequent reader of Grogan's Philadelphia Inquirer columns, and of course, his first book, 'Marley and Me'. While this was not the oft-humorous story focused on one of my favorite topics, dogs, that 'Marley' was, I was more impressed by 'The Longest Trip Home' than I expected once I learned the common theme running throughout the book. Grogan's writing style was key here, as he narrates his life growing up with strict-Catholic parents, as he made a topic I could not relate to In college, I was a frequent reader of Grogan's Philadelphia Inquirer columns, and of course, his first book, 'Marley and Me'. While this was not the oft-humorous story focused on one of my favorite topics, dogs, that 'Marley' was, I was more impressed by 'The Longest Trip Home' than I expected once I learned the common theme running throughout the book. Grogan's writing style was key here, as he narrates his life growing up with strict-Catholic parents, as he made a topic I could not relate to at all interesting and kept me engaged until the very end. The book opens with Grogan receiving a phone call from his father, who informs him in a very matter-of-fact way that he has been diagnosed with leukemia. Although it takes until about 3/4 of the way through the book to get there, Grogan immediately sets the stage for the book's title, that the longest trip home involves him returning to where he grew up in order to be with his ill father. However, in order to understand the relationship the two men, as well as the rest of the Grogan family members, have with each other, Grogan needs to start at the beginning, with his childhood. He was raised devout Catholic and abided by his parents' will until he was old enough to form his own opinions, at which point he chose to forge his own path, much to the dismay of the elder Grogans. John Grogan's tales of Catholic school shenanigans, coming of age in the 1970s, and eventually meeting the woman of his dreams and raising a family of his own feel familiar, like they could be the stories of anyone of his generation, just substituting in the teller's preferred religion, or lack thereof. This book moves at a steady pace and could easily be finished in one afternoon, sitting outside on a porch swing with a glass of iced tea. Grogan imparts life lessons without being preachy, primarily on not being afraid to break away from tradition, but also not severing your roots, as they are what shaped your development. An enjoyable book, and I would love to read more by Grogan, as it has been over 10 years since I was a regular Philadelphia Inquirer reader and I'm not even certain he is still with that paper, perhaps having departed to write the next chapter of his life.

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