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Long Way Back

3.83  ·  Rating details ·  108 ratings  ·  13 reviews
From Brendan Halpin, author of the hilarious novel Donorboy and the intimate memoirs It Takes a Worried Man and Losing My Faculties, comes Long Way Back, a bighearted, thought-provoking story of faith, love, and punk rock.
Growing up with hippie activist parents, Clare and Francis Kelly share a strong bond. It’s firmly rooted in familial embarrassment (the Kellys’ house is
Paperback, 224 pages
Published January 29th 2008 by Villard (first published January 1st 2007)
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Average rating 3.83  · 
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Jul 22, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: music geeks & catholics & older teens
Punk rock, Catholicism, death, and redemption- an unlikely combo, but Mr. Halpin seems to have made it work in this coming-of-age-again book. Told from the perspective of sister Clare, the books begins when God moves through baby brother Francis in church while Clare observes. This epiphany remains Clare and Francis's secret and serves as a major plot element through the book. The book moves quickly through Clare and Francis's intimate youthful experiences with punk rock (their rebellion is slig ...more
Jules Vilmur
Jul 23, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I've been reading a lot of memoir recently. No big surprise, I suspect, but I figure that if I'm going to try and write it, I would do well to study it. But this last week, I took a break from memoir and decided to re-read Brendan Halpin's novel “Long Way Back”. I remembered it as a book with a great balance of humor and grief, something I continue to struggle with in my own work.

What I was struck by this time through however, was the spirituality of these characters. I'm funny about religion in
May 15, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Clare Kelly is the narrator of this novel about family, faith, and what it means to lose someone you love. Clare and her brother Francis are children of hippie activists; Clare reacts by attempting to become a punk rock rebel, but goes on to become a nurse, while Francis latches onto the Catholic faith, eventually going on to work with youth — and he does it well. The narrative begins in their childhood, and jumps and skips around until Clare is married with children, and Francis meets and marri ...more
Jun 04, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A Long Way Back is an honest tale of great joy, sorrow, and a loss of faith. All of the characters are extremely giving; in fact, both main characters are named after Saints, and in their own ways, nearly live up to expectation. Even when God seems to have turned the other way, the characters never stop caring about each other and those around them. The book seems to carry the message that no matter where we are in life, we can always lend a hand to others in time of grief and suffering. Just pl ...more
Honestly, this one started out pretty slow and I was starting to feel pretty annoyed with the narrator, who seemed like a shallow and poorly written woman. I complained to my husband that she seemed so simple and void and far too focused on the size of her butt, like a frustratingly stereotypical woman-written-by-a-man character. But I'm a dedicated reader, so I resolved to finish the book anyway, and I'm glad I did.

The story is a little clunky, but that makes it feel more true to reality. It f
Jenn Estepp
a quickly absorbing story of love, faith, grief, music, family, meaning, punk rock and the ramones. far better than any sort of quick annotation would lead you to believe. i had some minor quibbles and i have a major issue with the cover of the edition i read, but those are insignificant compared to my overall experience with the book, which i totally stayed up too late to finish and haven't entirely stopped thinking about all day. and even if i had been feeling totally cynical and hatey about t ...more
Rosa Dixon
May 14, 2009 is currently reading it  ·  review of another edition
A Long Way Back to me was different then I thought.When I read the summary in the back of the book. I thought it was going to be about kids growing up with hippie parents. It's actually about a guy name Franis and his sister is the one telling his story in the book. How her brother losses his wife and his catholic faith and eventually turns into this punk rock fan at an older age and sister feels that he's acting immature. I love the book I feel thta it' funny, sad but interesting. ...more
Mar 31, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This one just really hit me right in the gut. Maybe it's because my dad and I had such a great relationship through music and the 8-year anniversary of his death is coming up in a month...but I was sobbing at the end like nobody's business. I'm getting ready to go find out more about the author and his other books, because the central events to this novel have too much rawness to them not to have happened to the author himself. ...more
Apr 23, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
You find it in the strangest places.

Last line from Long Way Back. Glad the Ramones made me select this book, as it’s full of musical references to rock awesomeness like: Motörhead, The Who and The Kinks. Reminded me a little of Salinger’s Franny and Zooey, unsure why, since the only obvious parallel is that there’s a brother and sister in it, here called Francis and Clare. Anyway, I enjoyed reading it from all the Happy Jack emotions the characters experienced, to the Sad Alice.
Christopher Giroir
Was actually worried that this was a christian propaganda book at first (Akin to Left Behind or other shit like that). I went online to make sure it wasn't, finished it and loved it. Great book about dealing with loss. ...more
Safron Mitchelson
Oct 13, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A book about a sad subject, the death of family members, and how the loved ones cope, but told with much humour, and plenty of music references to keep me happy!
Jun 16, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Nick Hornby Fans, Ramones fans
A fantastic book about how we can find our way back to faith in unexpected ways. A great summer read and certainly one I look forward to readig again over the years!
Aug 21, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: general-fiction
A great suggestion from Ruth. I loved it!
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I grew up in Cincinnati, went to college in Philadelphia, and also lived in Taipei and Edinburgh along the way. I've lived in Boston since 1991.

I became a professional writer in 2000, writing about my late wife Kirsten's breast cancer diagnosis and treatment. Kirsten died in 2003, leaving me and our daughter Rowen. I married Suzanne in 2005 and got her kids Casey and Kylie in the deal too. Bargain

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