Book Reviews

Following Atticus: Forty-Eight High Peaks, One Little Dog, and an Extraordinary Friendship | Book Review

Following Atticus: Forty-Eight High Peaks, One Little Dog, and an Extraordinary Friendship | Book Review Following Atticus: Forty-Eight High Peaks, One Little Dog, and an Extraordinary Friendship by Tom Ryan
Original Publication Date: 2011
Genres: Animals, Memoir, Non-Fiction
Source: Advanced Reading Copy from the publisher.

In Following Atticus, Tom Ryan describes life with his mountain-climbing dog. 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.

Following Atticus: Forty-Eight High Peaks, One Little Dog, And An Extraordinary Friendship is one of the most delightful books I have read in a long time.

Following Atticus Describes Life With A Miniature Schnauzer

Atticus M. Finch, partly named after the hero lawyer in To Kill A Mockingbird, is a Miniature Schnauzer who changes Tom Ryan’s world.

Tom’s life publishing a muckraking newspaper in Newburyport, Massachusetts is only partially fulfilling.

Tom loves his work but is lonely and his life has no real direction. Tom’s mother died when he was seven, and he is not close to his father and eight siblings.

Tom had acquired a Miniature Schnauzer, Max. When Max died, he was determined to get another dog of the same breed.

Tom looked at dozens of photos emailed to him from the dog breeder, and he chose Atticus because he was different.

Little did he know just how different Atticus would prove to be.

The Dog Who Climbs Mountains

One day Tom and Atticus went hiking with three of Tom’s brothers in the White Mountains of New Hampshire.

Atticus proved to be a natural-born mountain climber. When Atticus reaches the top of a mountain, he would sit and gaze at the stunning scenery around him.

The experience was so enjoyable that Tom and Atticus return to the White Mountains on a regular basis.

At first, Tom and Atticus start to make a habit of climbing the mountains because they enjoy tranquility and peacefulness. They also love being together and share a very strong bond. Tom would hold Atticus in his arms after they reach the top of a mountain.

When a friend of Tom’s dies of cancer, however, Tom decides that they will climb all forty-eight of the four-thousand-foot peaks twice – in the winter — to raise money for cancer.

Tom and Atticus brave blizzards, Lyme disease, and incipient blindness to conquer the mountains. Tom also starts to become closer to his elderly father through his mountain-climbing, something that his father appreciates because of his own love of the mountains.

Atticus Becomes A Media Sensation

As word spreads about the mountain climbing dog and the overweight, middle-aged newspaperman, Tom and Atticus – especially Atticus – become media stars.

When confronted with tragedies and near-tragedies, will Tom and Atticus persevere?

Final Analysis

This has immediately become one of my favorite books. I am a sucker for animal stories, and I have read many mountain climbing books. This is my favorite.

There were times I was laughing out loud at some of their adventures, and other times when I cried.

You can also read the Tom and Atticus blog by reading here.

You can also read another review about a great dog in Rin Tin Tin: The Life and the Legend by Susan Orlean.

About Tom Ryan

Tom Ryan served as publisher and editor of the Newburyport, Massachusetts, newspaper The Undertoad for more than a decade. In 2007 he sold the newspaper and moved to the White Mountains of New Hampshire with miniature schnauzer Atticus M. Finch.

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