From a hill above town, the Mount Kildare Orphanage for Boys looks down on the small city of St. John’s, Newfoundland. The year is 1960. The orphanage is always cold, there is never enough to eat, and the Catholic Brothers who run the home are heavy-handed in their religious discourses and harsh in their discipline. Here, a group of boys manages to look out for each other and live by their own set of rules.
By day the boys are obedient students, but when the sun goes down the Dare Klub rules the night: raiding the bakery; stealing sacramental wine; and talking endlessly about girls, sex, and the merits of Floyd Patterson versus Willie Mays. Above all, they help each other through the waves of loneliness and sadness that they all experience. Their secret society is their law and their family. But when the Brothers discover the wine is missing, they go on a manhunt, offering payoffs and bribes to any boy who will rat out the culprits.
To buck up the frightened boys’ courage, the Dare Klub’s leader, Blackie, creates a program of secret training for the annual St. John's marathon. The boys sneak out at night for running sessions in the hours before morning prayers, devising elaborate rituals to protect their secrecy. Leo Furey has created a classic coming-of-age story of dazzling scope and powerful insight, leavened with razor-sharp wit.
"Inspirational without being mawkish. Furey’s debut is a shoo-in for book clubs."—Publishers Weekly
"A winning first novel. . . . Furey encapsulates the life-affirming resilience of youth."—Booklist starred review
"The Long Run is a ghastly-wonderful journey through a pious hell run by lunatics, an antic dance of grim humor, genuine pathos, and final redeeming joy."—The Globe & Mail
"Like Frank McCourt's Angela's Ashes, The Long Run finds humor and even joy in a childhood that reads at times like something out of Charles Dickens."—The Toronto Star
"Funny, sad, forgiving, and redemptive, The Long Run wonderfully and tenderly evokes a time and place and shows us boys fighting for survival and happiness in the face of relentless and often heartless opposition. The reader fights and wins with them."—Wayne Johnston, author of The Navigator of New York and The Colony of Unrequited Dreams
"What got me is how laugh-out-loud funny this book is. Yet the whole is suffused with an aura of incredible sadness. It is universal in its message that adversity and systematic repression can reveal the infinite resourcefulness and indomitability of people, especially young people. Leo Furey has turned bitter experience into a work of art."—Robert MacNeil, author of Wordstruck and Burden of Desire
"This is a novel about the past—a past that is presented in such detail that it becomes the present, and, in its finality, knows no boundaries. It is a story of everlasting friendships forged in youth and pain."—Alistair MacLeod, author of No Great Mischief
"Furey’s tragicomic tale of orphanage life in St. John’s during the sixties will win your heart and break it by turns. The Long Run is a vivid account of brutality, laughter, the unwavering bravery of childhood, and a hard resilience—it cannot fail to move its readers."—Lisa Moore, author of Open and Alligator