Author of the bestselling Marley & Me (2005) shares his candy-coated personal history.
Grogan opens with memories of his “wondrous” youth, guided by a mother who awakened each of her four children with the tickle of a feather and some lighthearted teasing. The author recalls having inexhaustible energy while growing up in metropolitan Detroit, somewhat to the chagrin of strict but loving Mom, who made valiant attempts to rein in her preteen powerhouse. On a typical vacation, known as a “family miracle trip,” they would camp out after spending the day visiting religious shrines and monasteries. The Grogan family was fervently religious, which may explain why the author became so mischievous at an early age. He spied on a topless neighbor sunbathing in her yard, cultivated crushes on teachers in his particularly sadistic parochial school and indulged in cigarettes, fireworks and mild neighborhood vandalism. Humorous situations saturate the narrative: his brother Michael’s early affinity for the priestly life juxtaposed against Grogan’s own predilection for the female bosom; his parents’ radical frugality; various altar boy calamities; a lip-mauling kiss from “Lioness Lori…an overzealous make-out partner with braces.” Experimentation with drugs, sex and petty crime soon followed, along with the dogged pursuit of writing, launched with a vulgar underground publication that landed him and his high-school cohorts in hot water. Post-college, Grogan got writing gigs at various newspapers in random locales. He also acquired a non-Catholic girlfriend: his future wife Jenny, with whom he cohabitated before getting married, which both bewildered and disappointed his conservative, judgmental parents. Although much of the book describes Grogan locking horns with his parents over varied, mostly religious differences, after his father’s leukemia diagnosis it becomes a mushy testament to the power of love, forgiveness and growing old gracefully.
A harmless, wholesome treat for those who don’t mind a little treacle.