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Publisher's Summary

A true story of acceptance, perseverance, and the possibility of love and redemption as evocative, charming, and powerful as the New York Times best seller Following Atticus.

Drawn by an online post, Tom Ryan adopted Will, a frightened, deaf, and mostly blind elderly dog, and brought him home to live with him and Atticus. The only owners Will ever knew had grown too fragile to take care of themselves or of him. Ultimately Will was left at a kill shelter in New Jersey.

Tom hoped to give Will a place to die with dignity amid the rustic beauty of the White Mountains of his New Hampshire home. But when Will bites him numerous times and acts out in violent displays, Tom realizes he is in for a challenge.

With endless patience and the kind of continued empathy Tom has nurtured in his relationship with Atticus, Will eventually begins to thrive. Soon the angry, hurt, depressed, and near-death oldster has transformed into a happy, gamboling companion with a puppy-like zest for discovery. Will perseveres for two and a half years, inspiring hundreds of thousands of Tom and Atticus' fans with his courage, resilience, and unforgettable heart.

A story of a dog and an indelible bond that is beautiful, heartbreaking, uplifting, and unforgettable, Will's Red Coat honors the promise held in every living creature, at any stage of life.

An Audible for Dogs Pick: Make your dog's day. Cesar Millan shares how audiobooks can make dogs happier and calmer. Learn more.
©2017 Thomas F. Ryan (P)2017 HarperCollins Publishers

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  • Overall
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The Will to be Will

I recently “read” (listened to on Audible read by the author) two books about two individuals, Atticus and Will, who were the companions of author Tom Ryan. I have read many books about animals and especially dogs, yet I have never experienced the feelings and connections with a story or individual in the way I did with these two books. I recently read Following Atticus, and I am just finishing listening to Will’s Red Coat, the second book Tom wrote about an individual named William, who had been abandoned in a kill shelter and who had come into Tom’s and Atticus’ life and hearts an angry, scared, creature who with the love and surrender of a courageous human and a soulful individual, became Will, a loving, joyful, trusting friend and symbol of hope for all who knew him or knew of him. Even though I missed out on the real-time experience of Will, through Tom and hearing his voice reading his own story, I feel as if I could reach out and touch Will and hold him in my arms the whole time. I immediately became a friend of Will from afar and literally felt the sadness and loss when Will had to leave us. Tom’s description of how he had to let Will go and the whole process of his passing, including the afterwards when Tom gathered up Will’s things to provide for other needy animals, were mirror memories of how I lost my Riley four years ago in my arms, with a wonderful veterinarian to help him go in peace, and my mom and I later gathering up Riley’s things and donating them to a shelter to help others who had no one or nothing to keep them warm and comfortable. Some of my favorite parts of this story are when Tom quotes various authors and sages who have been important in my own life and spirituality. Richard Rohr, Carl Jung, H.D. Thoreau, Walt Whitman, Thomas Merton, Rudyard Kipling, John Muir, Joseph Campbell, and others quoted, are the exact same people who have guided my own life and work for many years as a nurse, therapist, and Secular Franciscan. His reference to a Japanese concept about filling cracks with gold was exactly the saying on a notebook I recently gave to a friend! I felt so many connections with everything Tom spoke of about his life with Will and Atticus, and even found a way to enjoy the cold weather, which is usually a season I dislike immensely! Tom’s voice is so inviting and soothing as he reads his own story to us. Hearing the Nor’eastern lilt in his voice made it even more believable as he described places and things in his native part of the country. I enjoyed his occasional laugh or choke in his voice that broke up the usually robotic task of reading a book for audio. I don’t want to spoil the story for anyone, so I won’t give away details of the chapters, but I will say that the people, places, things, and human-animal bonds have left a permanent impression on my heart and mind. I have been working on my own re-invention to a simpler, spiritual, introspective life, and as I followed Tom’s story with Will and Atticus, and even with Aragon, I am convinced that I am on the best path for my life and that I am capable of becoming “more than what I had been”. I have learned a lot from the animals in my life, and each time I hear another story about humans and the animals who saved them, I gain a more concrete sense of what I need to do. These two stories somehow have become the glue that is going to hold together all that I have learned from my own little individuals like Riley, Buddy, Angel, Colleen, K.C., Shiro, Yuki, Ranma, Kuno, and those of my dear friends, Webb, James, Bandit, Shadow, Sammy, Bo, Samantha……. Thank you, Tom, for sharing your journey with me, and thank you for letting me be a part of Will’s and Atticus’ life.

4 people found this helpful

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Hard to follow

Love animal stories, and was excited to listen to this one. May have been me, but it just didn’t hold my attention. Have a feeling I am needing to read an earlier book to fully explain. Felt like I dropped in, in the middle of the story. Need more info, to get the characters.

2 people found this helpful

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Wildflowers And Drunken Butterfly Dances

An act of kindness leads one on a spiritual journey of a lifetime. A dog at death's door, deaf, blind, thrown away and forgotten learns to rear up and kick his front legs out, learns to circle in drunken butterfly dances of joy: Here I am! I'm alive! "Will's Red Coat" is perhaps even more deeply heartfelt than the more philosophical "Following Atticus" (which was truly brilliant), as it is about sunlight and shadow, life and death, serving without ego, and the simple joys of living each moment here and now, second by glorious second. What lovely prose! Ryan captures the beauty of their surroundings and infuses every dying leaf with jubilant color, every wildflower with spine-tingling fragrances that are enough to make Will circle with joy, using what vision remains him to spy each petal. This is a fairy tale of a story: a backyard that opens to an Enchanted Forest, a wild bear who is smitten with the three, apple-taking beavers, a spider who needs a prompt every now and then to respect their space as they respect hers. It's a story of compassion on every level, of empathy lived and shared. There's a word in Japanese that means, "to repair with gold"--a technique of fixing broken pottery with melted gold which makes the broken even more valuable than the whole. And how fragile we all are. How very, very beautiful. What a journey I've just been on with Tom, Atticus, and the irrepressible Will. One I will never forget. For more reviews, of all genres, but especially Pet Day/Month audiobooks, check out AudiobookAccomplice.com

11 people found this helpful

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One of the best

This book had my heart within the first few minutes. Tom Ryan’s descriptive and insightful writing takes the reader on a beautiful walk through the highs and lows of loving a senior dog. But it’s so much more than a story about a dog. It’s a story about life, growth, peace, grace, and love. His writing is gripping and at times so emotional that I burst into tears. As another reviewer mentioned, it is best to read his previous book, Following Atticus, to fully enjoy this sequel. Both books are beautifully written and engaging.

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Loved reading this, but loved listening even more

One of my most favorite books of all time! I read the book first and loved it. I got to "know" Tom even more from following him on Facebook, so I decided to listen to the book as well, mostly while walking through a forest on my daily walks with my dog. It felt like I was right their with Tom, Will and Atticus. It was so wonderful to hear Tom's voice and reads this so wonderfully! You won't be disappointed.

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Old age is not a disease! 🥰

Please whatever you do, do not miss this book “Will’s Red Coat”, read by the author! It will warm your heart in a way no other book ever can. It is magical, uplifting, heartbreaking & inspirational all at the same time! As I’ve turned 70 this year I’m encouraged by Will to keep going, expect magic - even love! Old age, dear ones, is most definitely not a disease! I wish there were 10 stars for this book! Don’t miss it! ❤️

1 person found this helpful

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Love Love Love. Just read this book!

Read Following Atticus and then Will’s Red Coat. Just read them and you can thank me later!

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absolutely heartwarming

Tom has a way with words that make it nearly impossible to stop listening. Will's Red Coat is a must read for anyone at a crossroads in life and is looking for a new beginning. It is never too late in life to begin a new chapter. The bond that Tom, Atticus and Will have will make you realize that it is the simple things in life that make us the happiest. Be gentle with yourself and with others. Thank you Tom for narrating, your voice is intoxicating and made this book all the more special. Onward, by all means, and walk in beauty.

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Beautiful Story/Lovingly Told

A great companion to Following Atticus as well as a stand alone story. I laughed, cried and reflected on my own life as Mr. Ryan examined his own. Ryan writes lovingly about the dogs in his life but his ruminations on life itself grab me every time too. Well done I say!

2 people found this helpful

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Simply Beautiful

I absolutely loved this thought provoking, eloquent book. It is so very good on so many levels. I recommend it enthusiastically and with a loving wish that this true and heartfelt story will touch your spirit as deeply as it has mine.
Thank you, Tom Ryan. You are a wise and kind soul. You, sir, are a Sage in my book.

2 people found this helpful