The Longest Trip Home is a coming of age memoir about Grogan's relationship with his family, particularly with his parents, revolving around the theme of "powerful love of family. Grogan was born to a Catholic family of Irish descent in Detroit, Michigan on March 20, , the youngest of four siblings. In ,  he was named managing editor of Rodale's Organic Gardening magazine and moved to Pennsylvania. For other people named John Grogan, see John Grogan disambiguation. In the spring of , he joined Lehigh University as an adjunct professor in the department of journalism and communication. The readers' astounding response and interest in Marley sparked Grogan's decision to write a book, due to the realization that he had "a bigger story to tell" and "owed it to Marley to tell the rest of the story. In , when Grogan's dog, Marley, died at age thirteen, Grogan wrote a column in The Philadelphia Inquirer honoring him, and he received over responses from his readers.
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In , when Grogan's dog, Marley, died at age thirteen, Grogan wrote a column in The Philadelphia Inquirer honoring him, and he received over responses from his readers.
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After the fellowship, he was hired as a bureau reporter at the South Florida Sun-Sentinel in Fort Lauderdale , eventually being promoted to metropolitan columnist. It spent 76 weeks on the bestseller list, and 23 of those weeks it stood at the 1 spot. His first college internship was at a community weekly paper called The Spinal Column.