The Longest Trip Home
John Grogan

HarperCollins Publishers
Hardcover/496 pages
ISBN: 0-061728209
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". . .full of honesty. . ."

The Longest Trip Home: A Moving memoir of family and faith.

John Grogan grew up in Harbor Hills just outside of Detroit, Michigan, the youngest of four children. John was a mischievous little boy, a trait he no doubt inherited from his mother. The Longest Trip Home is his memory of those years and the ones that followed, taking him from parochial to public school, to college and graduate school and eventually away from Michigan, his family and his Catholic roots to a job in journalism and back home again.

I didn’t read John Grogan’s first novel, Marley & Me, but I am glad I read this memoir, The Longest Trip Home. Grogan’s story is full of mischief, fun, secrets and lies, but most of all it is full of honesty, an honesty he didn’t give his devoutly Catholic parents for most of his life. Grogan doesn’t equivocate about his reasons or the impact it had on his parents, and that is one of the charms of this book. He hides nothing, not even his adolescent fumblings and yearnings or his deceptions and justifications when it comes to girls.

Beneath the wry and often funny observations is a seeker honestly trying to understand his life and his Catholic roots. He goes through the motions of Catholic worship completely stymied by his parents’ simple and fervent beliefs. He hides the fact that he not only doesn’t share their views, but that he is not living the way they raised him to live. Covering over his deceit by claiming he did it to spare them, Grogan does not cover up the ramifications of his actions or the barrier that grows between his wife and his parents, especially his mother.

What could have been a heavy-handed diatribe against the Catholic church during the years he reported on its numerous scandals, becomes a journey through a life full of hopes and fears and family. Grogan always comes back to family, and his is one well worth knowing. The Longest Trip Home made me laugh and cry. I felt very glad to have been invited into John Grogan’s family, to meet his extraordinary parents and share his mistakes, his trials and his triumphs. This is one memoir I will read again and again for its evocative prose, simple insights and ever present warmth.

Reviewer: J. M. Cornwell