Following Atticus: Forty-eight High Peaks, One Little Dog, and an Extraordinary Friendship (P.S.)
by Tom Ryan
Publication Date: August 7, 2012
Publisher: William Morrow
Source: Free copy for review from TLC Book Tours
After a close friend died of cancer, middle-aged, overweight, acrophobic newspaperman Tom Ryan decided to pay tribute to her in a most unorthodox manner. Ryan and his friend, miniature schnauzer Atticus M. Finch, would attempt to climb all forty-eight of New Hampshire’s four thousand- foot peaks twice in one winter while raising money for charity. It was an adventure of a lifetime, leading them across hundreds of miles and deep into an enchanting but dangerous winter wonderland. At the heart of the amazing journey was the extraordinary relationship they shared, one that blurred the line between man and dog.
Following Atticus is an unforgettable true saga of adventure, friendship, and the unlikeliest of family, as one remarkable animal opens the eyes and heart of a tough-as-nails newspaperman to the world’s beauty and its possibilities.
As soon as I saw the cover of this book, I knew I had to read it. I have two miniature schnauzers so I knew this would be a very special book.
And I was not disappointed.
Tom Ryan is a journalist who publishes his own newspaper, The Undertoad, in Newburyport, Massachusetts. He uncovers all the secrets of Newburyport, naming names, getting to the heart of the politics behind every story and printing everything he discovers, despite enormous pressure not to do so. But, even while he says he is fulfilled in his work, he was not fulfilled in his life. Something was missing.
It took a little dog to help him find it.
Atticus Maxwell Finch.
From the beginning, there is something special about Atticus. Tom’s trials through puppyhood are hilarious, and as Atticus grows up, he becomes his own unique being. When Tom’s brother invites him and Atticus on a hike, Tom accepts, hoping to draw closer to his family. That hike changes Tom and he sees something in Atticus - “It was as if he were made for the mountains” (pg. 49). They begin climbing other peaks, embarking on a quest of self-discovery. Something changes in Tom and Atticus when they are climbing the mountains. Life changes. Spiritual realizations emerge. The busyness that consumes daily life goes away and it is just about a man and a little dog, who leads the way for Tom.
When Tom’s friend succumbs to cancer, Tom and Atticus attempt to do something that’s rarely been done – climb all 48 of New Hampshire’s 4,000 foot peaks TWICE in one winter while raising money for charity. This is a feat that will test Tom to the limits of his physical health. And the mountains have much in store for Tom and Atticus.
This book captivated me. Each trek up the mountain, I could picture little Atticus marching proudly, showing Tom the way. It also made me think of my own schnauzers and the pretty mundane lives they have lived! This book is ultimately about a man who is looking for meaning and purpose in his life. And he discovered it in a most unusual place – through a relationship with Atticus M. Finch and by trekking the 4,000 foot mountains of New Hampshire.
NOTE: Be sure to follow the Facebook page for videos and pictures of Atticus and of his brother Will!
And for your enjoyment, I leave you with some pictures of my miniature schnauzers!
Wednesday, August 8th: Peppermint PhD
Thursday, August 9th: Tiffany’s Bookshelf
Tuesday, August 14th: BookNAround
Thursday, August 16th: The Book Garden
Monday, August 20th: Wordsmithonia
Wednesday, August 22nd: Miss Remmers’ Review
Thursday, August 23rd: Book Dilettante
Thursday, August 23rd: A Musing Reviews
Monday, August 27th: 4 The Love of Animals
Tuesday, August 28th: Champion of My Heart
Thursday, August 30th: Something Wagging This Way Comes
Thursday, August 30th: StephTheBookworm
Monday, September 3rd: No Dog About It
Tuesday, September 4th: Book Club Classics
Monday, September 10th: Crazy For Books
TBD: My Bookshelf