Thursday, August 9, 2012

Following Atticus, by Tom Ryan

Tom Ryan lived a full, if not totally fulfilling, life as a reporter and newspaper man in Newburyport.  When an unwanted dog named Max enters his life, he opens himself up in a way he never imagined he could.  With Max's passing, Tom decides to adopt another dog, naming him Atticus M. Finch.  Never would he have imagined that Atticus would change his life in the ways that twenty pound bundle of fur did.  Over the course of several years, Tom and Atticus conquer hundreds of hikes of 4000 foot mountains, overcome sickness, raise money and awareness for good causes, and come to understand one of the purest forms of love ever.

I am always hesitant to read books about dogs.  As a dog owner and lover myself, I know that if these books foray into any kind of loss or sickness, I am going to be a blubbering mess, spending many hours hugging my dachshunds.  So, I was a little skittish about this book.  Never was I so happy that I took a chance on a book.  This book is, in a word, amazing.

First, I have to say that Tom is such an eloquent writer.  He is clearly a man of words, he admits that he loves literature, and it clearly comes through in his writing.  I think the reason Tom has been so successful at so many things (writing, hiking wild mountains, and a perfect relationship with Atticus) is because no matter what he does, he has intense respect.  He respects Atticus too much to try to write in the dog's voice.  He respects the mountains too much to forget their awesome power.  And he respects words too much to use them in a flippant or hyperbolic manner.  As a result, you have a book written with so much heart, so much earnest honesty, it seems improbable that any would not like it.  

I absolutely stand in awe of Tom and Atticus, not only for what they have achieved with hiking the 4000 footers, but just of their relationship in general.  There is no denying that this was a perfect match.  The story is so heartwarming and inspirational, I dare anyone to read this without being deeply touched.

The book focuses a lot of the time on the treks through the White Mountains, and describes the hikes in detail, so it will appeal to nature lovers, as well as fans of literary and poetry masters such as Thoreau, Wadsworth, and Longfellow.  One cannot read this book without feeling a bit of the adventure seep into his very being.  I only wish I had a great a command of language as Tom, to give this book adequate praise.

I received a review copy courtesy of TLC Book Tours.  See the rest of the tour here.

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If you liked this review, please rate it (and others!) as helpful on my Amazon profile. My Amazon Profile

23 comments:

  1. We all love Tom and Atti! Thank you for your awesome blog about them!

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  2. Great review. As with most reviews of Following Atticus, readers all seem to fall in love with all aspects of the book, the writer and the dogs.

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  3. I look forward to getting this book as I have been following Atticus and Tom and now Will as well daily on my fb. I laugh, I cry. I am a Schnauzer's human parent as well and I absolutely adore this breed. They are so loving and attentive. Tom is a very special person indeed and I am so glad our paths crossed on fb and am one of the many, many people lucky enough to follow his adventures with Atticus and Will.

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  4. The first thing I tell people about this book is that the dog doesn't die. What a wonderful courageous life these two lead...and now with William added to the mix they are a lively trio.

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  5. What a wonderful review. Few books have moved me this much. Following Atticus is not just a book but a true journey that we as readers embark on. For those that have the opportunity, I urge you to attend a book signing as they are on tour now. Tom is a delightful speaker and Atticus is just a darling.

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  6. You told it exactly as I saw it. It was hard for me to describe the feeling that consumed me as I read the book but you did it eloquently!

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  7. Thank you for such an enthusiastic review, Tiffany. I've put a link on our Facebook page so people can see it and comment if they wish.

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  8. Great review of an amazing book-couldn't agree more.

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  9. What a wonderful review and you hit the nail on the head. This is why so many of us follow Tom & Atticus on Facebook and through his blog.

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  10. "I only wish I had a great a command of language as Tom, to give this book adequate praise." Are you kidding? You have just written a beautiful review of Tom Ryan's book. You captured the essence, the honesty, the adventuresome attitude of the book and of Tom and Atticus. Your review was refreshing to read, so positive and, if I hadn't read the book already, I'd be racing out to get a copy! I know I'll certainly be re-reading it! It is a gorgeous book, written so thoughtfully and lovingly; with a smoldering passion for his work, his mountains and, most of all, Atticus.
    Very, very nice review - thank you.

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  11. "I only wish I had a great a command of language as Tom, to give this book adequate praise." Are you kidding? You have just written a beautiful review of Tom Ryan's book. You captured the essence, the honesty, the adventuresome attitude of the book and of Tom and Atticus. Your review was refreshing to read, so positive and, if I hadn't read the book already, I'd be racing out to get a copy! I know I'll certainly be re-reading it! It is a gorgeous book, written so thoughtfully and lovingly; with a smoldering passion for his work, his mountains and, most of all, Atticus.
    Very, very nice review - thank you.

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  12. Tom is a true wordsmith with a flare for basic truth in a story. You really do not want this narrative to end and the photos in the book and on his facebook page are a real treat!! There are many Following Atticus including myself..

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  13. " I only wish I had a great a command of language as Tom, to give this book adequate praise." Are you kidding me? You have just written a beautiful review that captured the essence, the honesty and the adventurous attitude of Following Atticus. I enjoyed your way with words, your descriptions - if I hadn't already read the book, I'd be rushing out the door to get a copy! And it is, indeed, a wonderful book, so lovingly and thoughtfully written; smoldering with the passion Tom Ryan possesses for his work, his mountains, the people in his life and, most importantly, for Atticus. Tom becomes someone you feel you know or wish you had as a neighbor or friend! Very, very nice review of an outstanding book - definitely a must read!

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  14. Excellent review of an excellent book! You hit the mark when you said the book was written with "so much heart, so much earnest honesty." It is definitely very inspirational. No other book has caused me to spend so much time thinking about my life and the changes I need to make to follow my dreams.

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  15. many years ago, a newcomer to Newburyport, I began to read the Undertoad, a sort of counter culture local rag about town politics. Knowing nothing about this town, my eyes glazed over till I found the letter home section in each issu

    I have never found a writer who so eloquently understands the relationship between human and canine. having recently lost a friend, Tahoe, I connected immediately with toms loss of max.

    if you love animals, you must give this book a look.

    thanks so much for you excellent review

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  16. Like you, Tiffany, I'm so glad I took a chance on this book! Given Tom's honesty with his life, I think it's only natural that he also writes with complete honesty as well. There is no pretend, no "fluffing up" the language as some writers do. I definitely hope Tom will keep writing :)

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  17. As an avid follower of Atticus, Will and Tom, you review could not have put it better. Thanks

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  18. Glad you took that chance too to read Following Atticus! It is truly one uniquely special relationship! And your review is still very well written - I have no doubt that others will agree too!

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  19. Silvia G. Soos-KazelAugust 9, 2012 at 8:47 PM

    Tiffany Harkleroad you have not only very superbly reviewed this great story, Following Atticus indicating the theme of the story, but not divulging to much detail to spoil the intrigue for the reader. I enjoyed your humble comment that you could not compete with Tom Ryan's command of language and word. You brought to light that this book covers the interest of a broad range of readers, that being dog lover, hiker, nature lover, even the literary/prose fancier. Your valuable review will entice a varied audience to savor a great read.

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  20. I got my copy today and can't wait to get into it. Been following the blog a long time and hope it never stops. I will pass your site on to a couple of writers I know. Great review.

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  21. I don't do well with sad dog books either so I'm glad to see that you loved this book and that it wasn't a tear-inducing read. Thanks for being on the tour!

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  22. As a dog lover, it's hard for me to read books where the dog dies as well. I'm glad you loved this book! Thanks for being on the tour!

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  23. Spot on review for this unique reading experience. The "boys" are addictive though. Watch out! If you've resisted FB and blogs until now your resolve will dissolve for sure. We saw th last night at "Jabberwocky" melting hearts andindsets left and right. Cindy

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