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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