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An inspirational book about a wonderful little dog
Following Atticus - Tom Ryan
Member Name: suziedre
Following Atticus - Tom Ryan
Advantages: Entertaining, sweet, funny
Disadvantages: The back cover gives away a major part of the story
Following Atticus is the story of Tom Ryan (the author) and his dog, Atticus M. Finch.
I tend to avoid true-life books about animals, particularly dogs, as they make me cry; Marley and Me being a perfect example of that. However, I had read about this book online and just had to buy it because the dog in it is a miniature schnauzer. As I've mentioned in (many) other reviews, I have my own 1 year old mini schnauzer called Sawyer. I have fallen in love with the breed since getting him, and I am always eager to read about these mischevious little dogs.
Tom is a newspaper editor in a small town. While he's a well known public figure, he seems to lead quite a solitary existence and does not have much in his life aside from work. Things begin to change when he unwittingly becomes the owner of a rescue dog named Max. Max is a miniature schnauzer, and while sadly he passes away, he inspires Tom to go and get another dog of the same breed. Cue Atticus, a puppy whose breeder Paige wants to keep, but sells as she feels that Tom needs him more.
When one of Tom's close friends dies from cancer, he decides to climb all of New Hampshire's peaks that are over 4,000 foot twice in one winter as remembrance, and also to raise money for charity. This journey across the 48 mountains forms the main story of the book.
Tom's father also features heavily in his writing - his sometimes fractious relationship with him, and also how climbing the mountains helped to bring him somewhat closer to his siblings. These parts of the book can be moving at times, because it shows how animals can improve our lives and relationships purely by being themselves and giving unconditional love, like all dogs do.
About three quarters of the way through the story, Atticus gets sick. I won't say how in this review; however the blurb on the back cover of the book gives this away, which is really annoying. Because of the back cover, I was waiting for that to happen with a sense of impending dread as I was reading the book. It spoiled the drama and suspense of what happened. This isn't the fault of the the writer of course, and it's only a slight criticism. This part of the book made me tear up several times, and hug Sawyer a little bit tighter.
There is also a bit of a 'twist' at the end of the book regarding Tom's personal life. I have to say I picked up what was going to happen fairly early in the book, but it was nice to have my prediction confirmed.
There are small black and white photographs of Atticus at the beginning of every chapter, however I would have loved there to have been glossy colour photographs in the middle of the book, not just of Atticus but also to show off the beauty and scale of the mountains that Tom and he spend so much climbing. Tom has a Facebook page and he regularly posts photographs of where they are, and what Atticus is getting up to - it would have been lovely to have had the same kind of insight in the book.
This is a life-affirming book and I sped through it in 2 days or so. You don't have to have a dog or even like them to enjoy this inspirational story. It demonstrates how a little dog can transform your life against all the odds, and can inspire you to get out there and try things which you may have been reluctant to do. It's made me want to grab Sawyer and head to the Mourne Mountains for a hike once he gets older (and I get fitter!)
I would absolutely recommend Following Atticus. I laughed at the descriptions of the typical schnauzer stubborness, and I cried when Atticus' life was put at risk. I have leant this book to my dad now as I know he will love the descriptions of the Great Outdoors, and when I get it back, I will for sure be reading this again in the future. Atticus has become a bit of a celebrity now because of this book, and he very much deserves it!
A lovely read.
Summary: An inspirational read about an amazing little dog
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