It’s subtitled “a memoir” and just as “Marley & Me” tells the story of Grogan’s life through the lens of his relationship with Marley, this book tells the story of his life (albeit a longer portion of it than in “Marley & Me”) in relation to his parents.
The book is split into three parts about distinct portions of the author’s life: his youth, leaving home, and return to be with his aged parents.
From the first part I took that Grogan had extremely loving parents who worked hard to raise him and his siblings well, and also that they were devout Catholics who worked to instill the same religious piety in their kids. This last effort leads to one of the central themes of the book as both sides of the relationship between the parents and author attempt to deal with the failing of that aim.
It’s during the third portion of the book when Grogan’s father battles illness that light is really shined on the relationship and you see how the difficulties as well as love coexist in the family. Really, it’s quite a read seeing how his father wanted things for him that he didn’t fulfill, but still the connection and raw emotion during this time.
I’m glad I read the book, but view the first two thirds as being a setting of the stage for this final portion. From a perspective of the relationship portrayed and experiences lived through, it’s powerful. I suppose that the author Ann Hood said it well in her back book jacket testimonial…
“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.”
Particularly as a relatively new father, I can say that the book (really, the final portion of it) did indeed pack an impact.