Atticus Maxwell Finch and Thomas F. Ryan are two remarkable characters that will impress you beyond belief. Following Atticus: Forty-Eight High Peaks, One Little Dog, and an Extraordinary Friendship is an inspiring book that will touch your heart and show you the only boundaries we have are those we create ourselves.
We sit together, the mountain and me, until only the mountain remains. Li Po
Atticus, a 20 pound miniature schnauzer, and Tom, a bitter middle-aged newspaper editor will take you on a journey of a lifetime. This is not a book about the White Mountains of New Hampshire, or hiking, or how much a man loves his dog. But you will get to read a whole lot about all these things. It is a book about understanding, caring, sharing, loyalty, admiration and dedication.
For what most would consider an impossible mission they had the courage and passion to triumph over the overwhelming odds of failure. This unlikely pair set out to climb all forty-eight of New Hampshire’s 4,000 foot peaks twice in one winter while raising money for charity to honor a close friend, Vicki Pearson, who died from cancer. Along the way the little dog transforms the tortured soul of Tom and helps him to see it’s okay to let go.
Together they faced the elements, serious physical problems, endured when things got tough and embraced the beauty of nature as they rode the spiritual journey.
Throughout the book I don’t remember Tom ever referring to Atticus as his dog. You can just feel the remarkable bond between Atticus and Tom and know they truly are friends and companions. The enthusiasm and passion for the mountains, relationships and loyalty is felt with every word Ryan writes.
In the mountains Atticus became more of what he’d always been, and I became less – less frantic, less stressed, less worried, and less harried. I felt comfortable letting him lead, and he seemed to know what I needed. He always chose the best route, if ever there was a question, and my only job was to follow.
An extraordinary friendship, indeed! An extraordinary book, for sure.
We were wondering if Tom named Atticus after one of our own favorite fictional characters, so we asked over on the Following Atticus facebook page and learned, “Well, the Atticus and the Finch is, but not the M.”
If you’ve never read Harper Lee’s To Kill A Mockingbird
we highly recommend adding that to your reading list this winter, too. Or at least watch the 1962 film adaptation with Gregory Peck as Atticus Finch.
Tom Ryan is the founder of the Newburyport, Massachusetts, newspaper the Undertoad and served as its publisher and editor for more than a decade. In 2007 he moved to the White Mountains of New Hampshire with miniature schnauzer Atticus M. Finch. Over the last five years, Tom and Atticus have climbed more than 450 four-thousand-foot peaks. After raising thousands of dollars for Angell Animal Medical Center in Jamaica Plain, Massachusetts, the pair was inducted into the Massachusetts Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Hall of Fame. Tom currently writes the popular The Adventures of Tom & Atticus column in the Northcountry News and Mountainside Guide, and the blog The Adventures of Tom & Atticus. Tom and Atticus live in the White Mountains of New Hampshire.