John Grogan, journalist and author of the beloved Marley & Me has struck gold again with his second memoir The Longest Trip Home. I fell in love with The Longest Trip Home within a matter of pages, and it wasn’t because I am a sucker for memoirs. I loved it simply because it hit home for me; it was relatable, both funny and [...]
John Grogan, journalist and author of the beloved Marley & Me has struck gold again with his second memoir The Longest Trip Home. I fell in love with The Longest Trip Home within a matter of pages, and it wasn’t because I am a sucker for memoirs. I loved it simply because it hit home for me; it was relatable, both funny and sad, and most importantly, it is about family and how hard it is to be a part of one. I could gush and go on and on, but let me say this – when I cry for a full hour during the last chapters of a book and I feel good about it, then I know that book came into my life for a certain reason. It isn’t important for me to share my reasons with you today, but I will say that I enjoy reading all types of books, and sometimes it feels great to have a good cry about someone else’s life for a change.
I wanted to read this book because Mr. Grogan and I both grew up in Michigan, just miles apart from one another. I hadn’t read Marley & Me or seen the film, but I knew almost everyone else on the planet adored his first memoir, so I took a chance as I figured he had to be a good writer. (He was.) When I began to read the book, I found out how similar we were, as we each screwed up in high school and even graduated from the same college. What I didn’t expect was that while we had very different families, ethnicities, parenting styles, and even pets, we both struggled with our religion (Catholicism) and we each tried to please our family at a time when no one else was “being good.” Even though I was raised in my poor white trash hood a decade later, we still had the same problems.
The Longest Trip Home reveals the Grogan family duality, as his parent’s home was filled with religious shrines, crosses and Madonnas, and John’s secret and separate world included home grown marijuana plants, tormented older neighbors and even bad altar boy shenanigans including getting liquored up on communion wine. His father was a man of faith and community and he always helped others, while John sold underground newspapers and terrorized his old man neighbor. John was like any typical teenage boy who had very atypical parents. No matter what he did it was wrong to someone else.
John Grogan grew apart from his parents when he let go of his Catholic faith. As with any family, it is hard when your parents, wife, children and siblings differ from you. Thankfully for John he was able to come to his own conclusions about religion, while maintaining the peace between his not-so-religious wife and his very devout mother. Every man is pulled in the opposite direction when it comes to both the ladies in their lives, but in John’s case, his wife had no interest in Catholicism and his mother was so religious that she performed secret emergency baby baptisms, and somehow he managed to stay connected to both.
My favorite line in the book was near the end, when John was reflecting back on the day he and his father sailed for the last time. Mr. Grogan’s father gave him the secret of life when he was giving him the sailing tips - “Small corrections” and ”Life is all about small, continuous corrections.” I just found those lines to be so true. What happens next showed John how unpredictable life can be and before he knew it, the boat had capsized, and later, he finds himself in the middle of the circle of life, never an easy place to be in.
You can find John Grogan’s website here, and his blog here. Read both, he is an interesting man and has a lot to offer to his fans. Before I forget, I already went out and grabbed a copy of Marley & Me, and I’m nearly finished with it. As of right now I like The Longest Trip Home more than Marley & Me, so if you loved his first book, you have got to go out and pick up his second book now!
*Many thanks to the ladies over at TLC Book Tours who not only introduced me to this wonderful author, but who once again gave me the honor of being a book tour host for them.Posted in book blogs, book reviews, books, bookworms, Detroit, dogs, family, John Grogan, Marley & Me, Michigan, Michigan Writers, novels, reading, The Longest Trip Home, THOUGHTS Tagged: Catholic Guilt, Catholicism, Catholics, entertainment, life, Memoir, memoirs, news, personal, religion, The Longest Trip Home by John Grogan