April 28, 2013

The Longest Trip Home by John Grogan

Author of Marley & Me, John Grogan, has a way with words.  So when the dog is gone from the story and the memoir is just about him, I was curious to see how the story would end up.  Well, that and my grandma included this book in a pile she gave back to me, and I read just about anything that comes into my hands.

Grogan was brought up in a very Catholic household.  In fact, his parents were about the most devout Catholics I'd ever read about.  But he didn't take to the faith, even from an early age, and his childhood is filled with exploits that are very much rebellious and not in keeping with his parents beliefs.  As he grows up, his parent's religion continues to elude them and become a source of contention between them.  Even after he marries his relationship with his parents permeates everything. 

Grogan is a very undecided man, and he shows his weaknesses in nearly every chapter of this book.  I don't think he's very fair to his wife when it comes to big decisions, but she sticks by him anyway.  So there must be something redeeming about him, although you wouldn't really see it from this book unless it's the dedication to his parents.  But then again we generally don't always paint positive pictures of ourselves and since he wrote this, it shouldn't be surprising that he isn't the greatest person ever.  His parents, I have to say I couldn't have handled their religious fervor.  They didn't have boundaries from what Grogan described.  We only get a few glimpses at his siblings, and I think it would have been interesting to hear more about their lives and how they differed or paralleled from Grogans.

This book is mainly about Grogan's relationship with his father and his stepping away from Catholicism.  Now, I don't know much about Catholicism despite having gone to a Catholic school for a year (and threatening to purposely flunk out if my parents sent me a second year) but my thoughts really do mirror what Grogan thinks about the religion.  He definitely takes a step back and looks hard at some of the beliefs of the faith and whether or not they fit into his life.  But to please his parents, he does still practice a lot of the religion when it comes to baptism and other things for his kids.  And the whole second half of the book is dedicated to that and the time he spends with his father while he's sick.  I actually enjoyed the first half of the book better as we hear about Grogan's exploits as a child.  It was interesting and engaging but then we get to his adult life and it was boring.  It drug on and on and was very repetitive.  Yes, it is a memoir, but like with any life, some things are more interesting than others.  I should note that there is cussing, sexual fantasies, and other things in this book that might surprise someone just thinking it's about a man's journey through his faith.  It's not squeaky clean.

This is an ok book.  Grogan's writing is eloquent and he does have a sense of humor.  But I think it would have been better if he had just stuck to his childhood.

The Longest Trip Home
Copyright 2008
334 pages

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