Four Years from Home
Tom Ryan -- firstborn of five children in a large, Irish Catholic family, smart and acerbic, a cheat and a bully -- calls himself the future king of the Ryans. There are other opinions. His mother calls him a holy terror. Mrs. Ioli calls the police on him. His father says that had Trouble been a saint, that would have been Tom's middle name. But his parents, neighbors, peers, and siblings all must bow down before him or suffer the consequences. Just ask the Christmas turkey leftovers he buried in the side yard.
Harry, the youngest Ryan, was the shining star of the family. Bright, sensitive, and caring, he was protected by parental radar, called by God and Grandma Ryan to the priesthood, and was in Tom's eyes, a brown-nosing little punk who had become a threat to his kingdom and the primary target of his search and destroy missions.
Then Harry changed. He abandoned his vocation and quit the church, and when he left for college, he left for good. He never called. He rarely wrote. His picture disappeared from the mantle. It was as if he had ceased to exist and his shining star had been but a passing comet. The enemy had retreated and Tom's war was over.
"Four Years from Home" begins on Christmas 1972 during Harry's senior year at college. The Ryan family has gathered without Harry for another bittersweet holiday celebration. When an unexpected and unwelcome gift arrives, the family demands answers and Tom Ryan, bully cum laude, must make a reluctant journey of discovery and self-discovery into a mystery that can only end in tragedy.
Written by the son of Irish Catholic immigrants, "Four Years from Home" redefines brotherly love in the darkly humorous and often poignant actions of its principal skeptic, Tom Ryan.
Reviews from Amazon.com
5-stars Well Written
By turns funny, sad and poignant, Four Years from Home takes the reader on a journey - externally and internally - as its flawed narrator seeks to solve a mystery. The novel is well written, entertaining and thought provoking.here's something to be said about what 'was'.
5-stars Exploration of moral issues and themes
Things are rarely what they appear to be, sacrifice is noble, and the mind a fragile companion. Four Years from Home presents these themes in a darkly humorous fashion as it leads us down the path of tragedy.
5-stars Poignant, Funny, Mesmerizing
You could call this book a humorous look at the familial bonds between a self-described bully and his siblings. You could call it a wrenching tale of loss and discovery. You could call it a story of twists and turns that both entrances and shocks.
You'd be right on all counts.
The author seems purposed to not only share the story of bully/brother Tom Ryan, but to put us in Tom's head as his world is turned upside down, and as his grasp of it is peeled away bit by bit. We don't just follow Tom's journey--we inhabit it as he seeks out answers to his brother Harry's death while away at college. What we get from this masterfully told tale is always touching, frequently worthy of chuckles born of our own memories of childhood, and also impossible to anticipate. I did not see coming what transpired.
Highly, highly recommended. You will be hooked from the first paragraph of this tale that should be treasured.
Sir Nigel Wigglebottom's Video reviews of Four Years from Home