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Long Way Back: A Novel Hardcover – January 3, 2006


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Villard; First Edition edition (January 3, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1400062780
  • ISBN-13: 978-1400062782
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.8 x 8.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #5,026,911 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Halpin (Donorboy) puts sensitive, studious Francis Kelly in the loving if slightly snarky hands of his older sister, Clare, who tells Francis's story with tenderness, admiration and affection, along with an occasional barb. Fran, a Catholic youth-group leader, is 35; his wife, Lourdes, has recently died of cancer, before they could start a family. Clare, taking care of Fran as he tries to climb out of depression, describes their youth near Cincinnati (both now live in the Boston suburbs), including two hippie parents and a shared passion for punk and related forms of rock. As Fran comes back to himself by connecting with a local rock chick 12 years younger (and whom he used to mentor), Clare has her own vicissitudes, dealing with marriage and children while working as an ER nurse, lamenting her lost youth and acting as the family liaison. Clare rolls her eyes as Fran takes up the bass and gets a tattoo, but is mostly nice to him. Halpin matches his prose to Clare's ordinariness and makes the progress of Fran's band less of interest in and of itself than as a regressive coping mechanism that works. Clare herself is not quite compelling, but her care for Fran carries the book. (On sale Jan. 3)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

Unexpected death and the grieving process have long been preoccupations of author Halpin, who lost his wife to breast cancer. In his new novel (following Donorboy, 2004), devout Catholic and hard-core Ramones fan Francis suffers the ultimate loss when his loving, supersmart wife is felled by a brain aneurysm. The story of his healing, which takes many surprising turns, is told in the funny, sympathetic voice of his sister, Clare. For a devastated Francis, onetime church youth-group leader, the road to recovery starts with a bass guitar and eventually includes a tattoo and membership in a gay punk band whose most popular song is dedicated to describing the allure of Astroglide lubricant. It's a testament to Halpin's skill for mixing the sacred with the profane that such scenes are often juxtaposed with others featuring Clare's whispered prayers and refreshingly unabashed declarations of faith. Similarly, Clare's irreverent sense of humor acts as a check on the bathos forever threatening to swamp the narrative; nevertheless, some readers will be completely undone by this tender novel's final passages. Joanne Wilkinson
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

Customer Reviews

4.8 out of 5 stars
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You will if you check-out the book I just finished!
Mark E. Frye
This is an author who writes from the heart not only his own but through experiences that have touched all of us in our own lives one way or another.
Rose Ann Nelson
Written in a totally original voice, this story of love, loss and ultimately, redemption, is tender and poignant and thoroughly enjoyable.
Trixie Belle

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Trixie Belle on January 3, 2006
Format: Hardcover
I absolutely loved Long Way Back. Written in a totally original voice, this story of love, loss and ultimately, redemption, is tender and poignant and thoroughly enjoyable. I could completely relate to the characters. I mean, who hasn't questioned their faith after bad things have happened, or wanted to totally reinvent themselves when the old version just didn't seem to be working out anymore? Bottom line: You gotta get this book. Also, a warning--read the last chapters somewhere private...I was in a public place and everyone wondered why I was crying.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Mark Oestreicher on May 27, 2008
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
i bought this book a year or more ago based on a recommendation in a review (in some magazine). of all the fiction i've read in the past month or so, this was BY FAR my favorite.

the book is narrated by the sister of an adult male (i'm always impressed when a male author can write convincingly from a female narrator's perspective) who meets, marries, then loses an amazing wife to cancer. really the book is about his "long way back" to life, through and semi-out of a deep and massive grieving process.

as an added bonus, the brother is a catholic youth worker who mostly loses his faith through this process. but the narrating sister keeps her faith (so it's not a slam on religion or faith). there's a good splash of punk rock and band stuff thrown in the mix, which added fun. lots of great reflections on dying and death (the sister is also a hospice nurse), grief, families, faith, healing, and how events can completely redirect our lives.

i highly recommend this great book!
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Rose Ann Nelson on March 16, 2006
Format: Hardcover
I have read most of Mr Halpin's books and find they all have that same haunting realism that you know is not fiction. This is an author who writes from the heart not only his own but through experiences that have touched all of us in our own lives one way or another. This is a book you want to put down while reading to savor it but you can't put down because you need to be "in" it to the end. So, give yourself some me time,a nice warm beverage and just enjoy.
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Format: Hardcover
Ever met someone who's life was saved by punk rock? You will if you check-out the book I just finished!

In Long Way Back, the author, Brendan Halpin, narrates the life-recovery of Francis Kelly, a devout Catholic who loses his beloved wife and then abandons his faith. The story is told through the eyes of his older sister, Clare, a practicing nurse who serves God through the nursing profession, always seeking jobs that require nearly as much altruism as professional acumen. Her faith exists because of Francis, who had an unmistakable "religious experience" as a teen that left a lifelong impression on her, direct proof that there is a God.

And as they grow older, Francis becomes a devout lay minister in the Catholic church, directly impacting the life of many teens in the youth group he sponsors. In time, he meets and marries the love of his life, Lourdes, an oncologist, who is one of those rare humans who is just as wonderful as she seems. Their love fulfills Francis, completing him in a way that not even his faith could.

But Lourdes is struck down unexpectedly and dies after lingering in a coma in spite of the earnest prayers of her husband. After losing her, Francis grows bitter towards God and hostile towards the church, especially in light of the recent pedophilia scandals in the Boston area where he lives and works.

It is the author's accurate and gripping portrayal of losing a loved one unexpectedly -- in spite of praying and religious devotion --that is the strength of this novel. The reader is drawn into Francis' love for Lourdes as her character develops, and then is shattered along with Francis as she dies.
Read more ›
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By Eric Champion on December 4, 2014
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This was my second Halpin book. And for the second time he accurately chronicled a really hard real life issue without being preachy. But that's what good fiction does. Thanks.
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More About the Author

I'm a writer and a teacher. I've written memoirs, novels for adults, and novels for young adults. I don't know if my interest in and talent at writing YA comes from my experience as a high school teacher or my immaturity. Either way, it's good.

I live in Boston with my wife Suzanne and our three children and our dog, Cooper.

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Long Way Back: A Novel
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