Tag Archives: Life

Book Review: “India Was One” – written by an Indian

"India Was One" - back cover with plot summary

I received the book “India Was One” from the author, without cost, in exchange for a fair and honest review.  This was actually many weeks ago, and I received it as an eBook.  Now, I must tell you, I am not an eBook fan! I can see the value in them for travelers, for people who commute to work via public transport, and even for students, and other situations, but for me – not so much!! But, just as a general point – I am doing some reading of eBooks off my laptop, having installed a free eReader to do so.  It is hard to curl up with a good laptop after a long day, but I am trying….!! 

Why am I telling you this?

Well, when I did get the opportunity to begin to read “India Was One”, it was as the eBook the author had graciously sent to me.  Now by this time, I had previously read and reviewed a few eBooks – books which at the time, were not yet available in print.   “India Was One” was available in print.  So, of course, I had that in the back of my mind!  But, I proceeded with the eBook.  However, and that’s a big ‘however’, I did not even get through the first chapter of “India Was One”, when I knew this book needed to be in my hands, in print, for my experience of it to be complete.  So, I purchased a print copy!  Sorry, an Indian, I did not mean to slight your gift.   I just knew, with that sixth sense about good books, that this book was going to be something magical.  And it was.

So, back to the beginning……

The first thing I noticed was, of course, the book title:  “India Was One”.  What did that mean?  India was one what…..??   And did ‘was one’ mean, defensively, like a child says to a mother:  “Well, Sally was one last Halloween, why can’t I be one this Halloween?”  Or did it mean:  “I was one, a non-believer, but I’m not anymore, I’m a believer now”.   And then, the author’s name:  an Indian.  Not even An Indian, capital ‘A’ on An.  But, an Indian, small ‘a’ on an.  Wow!  I seem to be having problems with this book, and I have not gone farther than the book’s cover!  I better turn a page…….

The title mystery was solved by the end of the first chapter.  The book opens in the present day, although, being a work of fiction, the actual day does not need identification – at least not in this book.  By the end of the first chapter I realized the title “India Was One”, meant that India was intact, it was not split into two, as in North India and South India, it was one – simply India.  Or was India one……??

Chapter Two leaps back in time, leaps back to a few years past.  A time that finds our heroine, Kaahi, and our hero, Jai, living and attending college in Mumbai.  For Kaahi and Jai, it is a time of great learning, good friendships, and a little falling in love!  Jai’s circle of friends, Bunty, Subra, and Punk, welcomed the friendship of the new girl, Kaahi.  But for Jai, it was love at first sight.  One of my favourite lines from the book is Jai’s initial glance of Kaahi.  In Jai’s mind he describes how Kaahi is dressed, so simply dressed in jeans and a white shirt, but so stunning, Jai ‘choked on his tea when he saw her’….  Isn’t that beautiful?  For me, that line just pulled me completely into Kaahi and Jai’s love story.  And by the end of chapter two, their love story is in full bloom.

Bride and Groom in India

And that is what this book is – a love story.  A love story between a man and a woman, a love story between a people and their country.

The difference is that the love story between a man and a woman progresses easily.  Jai and Kaahi finish college, are married, and begin a new life in the United States. The love story between a people and their country is put to the test by the (fictional) split of India into North India and South India.  While this has serious implications in the lives of the married couple, it is an obvious threat to India itself.  The news of the split takes both Jai and Kaahi by great surprise.  It also takes the reader quite by surprise.  I will not go into detail, I don’t want to spoil the fun of future readers, but the book incorporates the split of India into Jai and Kaahi’s happy life.

Jai, Subra, Bunty, and Punk - Train Trip

The time frame in this novel is very loose.  By that I mean, the author does not specify how much time is passing, it is really left up to the imagination of the reader.  For the most part I found this worked very well.  However, at times, it seems like a short period of time had passed, but then the writer will say, (for instance), “….for only a few years (had passed).”  I found at a couple of those instances, I was quite surprised with the rapid passage of time, as that had not even been hinted at by the author.  Some readers may not even notice that, but I found it a little startling.  It threw my imagination a little out of whack!  However, the loose time frame also contributes to the fast and easy flow of the book – which is a good thing. 

The spirit within the storyline itself, combined with the overall style of the author,  make this fast flowing book into a bit of an emotional whirlwind for the characters, and for the readers.

One point that I have yet to mention is the structure of “India Was One”. Along with the story narration, there are times when the characters use Hindi phrases as part of their conversations. The reader is treated to the written Hindi word, the Hindi verbal language, plus the English translation. At first I thought this might be distracting, but as I read, I enjoyed this insertion of Indian culture.  The other aspect of the book is the addition of what may be deemed as a history commentator.  This commentator speaks outside of the story itself, and speaks directly to the reader, offering historical, local, or geographical explanations for what is happening within the storyline.

India has a Passion for Cricket

I realize this may all sound confusing, but I found it actually worked quite well.  I enjoyed the addition of Hindi language, and I enjoyed the commentator’s role.  I think the novel could be read in several ways: read as is; read in just the English; or read without the commentator (whose words are in italics), but include the Hindi and Hindi translation to English.  It adds a unique flavour to the novel.

One other point that needs to be mentioned is the group of the Indian populace where the characters are drawn from.  As in other countries, if not in all, India is a country of many classes, split geographically and monetarily, and is a country of various religions.  For the most part, these characters are Hindu, and appear to be middle to upper middle class financially.  Both are important points to note.  The monetary class structure is important, as at times money does not seem an issue to the characters.  Their worries do not include how they will pay for something – especially trips and vacations.

One point that I would like to mention centres around faith and spirituality.  As a person of faith, I enjoy when faith is incorporated into a novel.  Faith can have a welcoming effect on individuals who travel around the world, or just within their own country or city limits.  And that effect can assist people who have moved to a new area, assist them by giving them a safe place to be, which is often a place of worship. Mid-way through the story, Jai and Kaahi are still trying to settle in their home in the U.S.  Kaahi attends a worship ceremony, and stays for the fellowship held afterwards.  In Kaahi’s words:  “She had a sense of belonging now”.  I have experienced that same emotional response after a move to a new place.  We look for places we feel at home.  I looked for a place of worship that held familiarity for me, that held a sense of belonging.  As did Kaahi.  As human beings, countries and religions do not separate us.  We all experience similar emotions.  It is what binds us together as a world.

The Golden Rule - Common in Traditions

When the novel ended, I was a little disappointed!  I was not ready for it to end.  I wanted the story to continue for many more chapters, and for more character development.  Maybe there is a part two on the horizon?  an Indian??

I think this novel will be enjoyed by many people, from different walks of life, from different countries, including people from India – whether living in India or living in other parts of the world.

You probably know by now, by this lengthy dissertation, that my rating of this book will be at the high end of the scale – if there is a scale.  Personally, I do not like adding a number rating to a book.  Especially unique books such as this one, “India Was One”.  I will say, I highly recommend this book.  It is a good story. The reader will learn something – about the U.S., about India, about people.

One more word – this time about the author:  an Indian.  The author wants to continue to be anonymous.  The author stresses it could be any Indian that has written this book – who exactly that author is should not be necessary information for the reader. I will tell you that I have corresponded with the author, via email, a number of times in the last few weeks – the author has managed to keep his identity concealed.  All I know is the bit of information shown at the end of the book.  Do I think an anonymous author of a novel works??  I’m not sure.  There are plenty of well known poems or catch phrases that are signed “Anonymous”.  It works for them. 

Does it work here??  I will let you decide.


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Book Review: Patsy Clairmont’s “Stained Glass Hearts” – “Seeing Life from a Broken Perspective”

Much like stained glass, life’s broken pieces become  the prism through which God’s grace shines most brightly and  beautifully.

“Life is no doubt full of difficulties, but it is also filled  with promise and possibility,” says best-selling author and WOF {Women of Faith}  speaker Patsy Clairmont. In Stained Glass Hearts Clairmont  guides readers to view the difficult experiences of life through  the lens of God’s grace. Using art as a theme, and likening people  to stained glass windows, she shares that it’s when we’re  surrounded by darkness that His healing light shines most brightly  within us. Encouraging women to step back and see life from this  new perspective, Patsy offers help and hope for the dark  places of life.

Along with character studies of women in Scripture, and  modern-day, relatable stories, each chapter includes:

  • Chalice-memorable quotes
  • Mosaic-recommended music
  • Spires-scriptures and readings
  • Litany-sample prayers

(from www.chapters.indigo.ca)

Original Cover: "God Uses Cracked Pots"

A number of years ago while browsing in a book store, (one of my most favourite activities), I noticed a book: “God Uses Cracked Pots”.   As I stopped and picked up the book, (who could resist that title?), I noticed the author’s name was Patsy Clairmont, at the time not an author with whom I was familiar.   I would come to realize it was my lack of knowledge that was at issue, not the popularity of the author!  However, that day, I was more caught on the title, than on the author. I flipped through it, checked out the cover, and decided it was not for me – as it turns out, not my best decision!  I am now on the lookout for this book. 

Cover Re-released Version

The author’s website, (www.patsyclairmont.com), shows that the book “God Uses Cracked Pots” has been re-released, and I think I know at least one customer!  My memory does not give me a synopsis of the book, but the title is drawing me in!!

With all that said, this review is not about Patsy Clairmont’s book “God Uses Cracked Pots”; it is about her book “Stained Glass Hearts”.  I received “Stained Glass Hearts” at no charge through the Booksneeze Book Review Program, which means I will be also posting this review on their website.

“Stained Glass Hearts” is what I would call, a pretty title; and the book  cover is very pretty, in colour and in design.  I would come to find out that this book is so much more than pretty.  With a book subtitle of  “Seeing Life from a Broken Perspective”,  I quickly learned that, all prettiness set aside, this book would have meaningful words to share.  Patsy Clairmont would have meaningful words to share.  And Patsy did.

Stained Glass Hearts - Seeing Life from a Broken Perspective

At the end of each chapter, Patsy has what she calls ‘The Art Gallery’.
‘The Art Gallery’ consists of a variety of interactive and reflective topics for the reader.  For example, at the end of Chapter 3, ‘The Art Gallery’ consists of a Museum reference for lookup on the internet, a Poem, a Prayer, and a Music suggestion that can be found on iTunes.  These elements link together, and combine with the Chapter topic itself, bringing the reader to a personal place on the road to light and redemption.  The place of light and redemption – on which Patsy has a personal focus, and on which she has written previous books. Patsy’s ‘Art Gallery’ was excellent. I know because I found myself pulled toward the interaction – and did follow-up that pull!

The chapters in “Stained Glass Hearts” focus on directing the readers to find out what is true about themselves, where the darkness is, where the light is, and how all that must come together to be where God is, and where He wants the readers to be.  While that sounds rather serious and somber, Patsy has a gift for making her reader feel good along the way.  As a new reader of Patsy’s work, I found her tone to be serious, yet light.  Early on in the book, Patsy herself states that this book exposes the solemn side of her personality.  I’m not sure that I would describe what I saw of Patsy as solemn, but maybe that is because I am a new fan.

As you might expect from the title, “Stained Glass Hearts”, the emotions of the human heart are explored in the chapters.  Ranging from darkness to light – just like a stained glass window, (to paraphrase Patsy).  Patsy lets us into her own heart, her own time of deep darkness, and her journey out of that darkness.  I always think authors are so brave when such personal emotion is exposed in such a public forum as a book.   And Patsy is one such author.

Patsy Clairmont

Patsy brings us into her family life, time with her friends, and times when she goes to work, speaking at conferences around the world, mainly focused on events sponsored by Women of Faith, an organization Patsy has been a member of since its very beginnings. (Information can be found at: www.womenoffaith.com).

Patsy Clairmont’s generous sense of humour is spread throughout this book.  Patsy reminds us not to take ourselves too seriously, but to also honour and accept who we are, and where we are, on our journey of life.

As the book progresses we, the readers, are given many opportunities to share stained glass experiences with the author – looking through something, or at something, as though we were looking at or through stained glass. 

I am not a big ‘nature girl’, (that is probably an understatement), yet one of the chapters that most vividly caught my attention was Patsy’s chapter titled: ‘Stained Glass Nature’.   I learned, or re-learned, a number of things from Patsy’s viewpoint of ‘Stained Glass Nature’.  One of the biggest is my tendency to overlook the beauty of nature.  I learned that one of the reasons I overlook nature’s beauty is that I do not take enough time to stop and pay attention to the beauty around me. 

This, in my personal belief system, means I am not stopping and paying enough attention to God.  It also means I am not really participating in the world around me; rather I am just moving through it with some unknown agenda of my own. 

For me, that has been one of the clearest themes in this Patsy Clairmont book:  stop and look around ourselves, through or with a stained glass window, at all the broken pieces, at all the little pieces, at all that is us, and at all that is given to us in this world. 

Stop and appreciate, stop and renew, stop and see the moment.

Patsy Clairmont

For a person new to the world of Christian non-fiction, I think this book would be an excellent beginning.  Free of deep theological words and intense phrases, this book will appeal to individuals at the early stages oftheir faith journey.  For the same reasons, this is also a book I would recommend to someone well along in their faith journey, but someone wishing to take stock of where they have been and where they have now come.  Not only did I find “Stained Glass Hearts” to be a good Christian writing, it was also a pleasure to read, and to review.


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Book Review: “Amazing Grace …As Christ Walks By – My Journey from Brokenness… to Wholeness” authored by Carol Cline

Carol Cline (photo Jeff Cline)

Are you living life as a prisoner to your own darkness within?

Do you find yourself feeling ashamed or riddled with continuing guilt? Do you live in fear? You can find your way to live a life of freedom…if you take the first steps of a journey that grows in love, knowledge and service for Jesus Christ. He died to give each of us abundant life, free of shame, free of guilt, free of fear. Bible scholar Carol Cline takes us on her journey from a broken, dysfunctional family life, through one act of cruel and shameful violence done to her, to her own first steps to recovering her wholeness as she learns to live with the love of Christ. You’ll learn from her the spiritual practices she uses daily and which have shaped her journey and led her confidently to Christ. Daily spiritual practice is like exercise, she tells us. At first you start with a coach or a guide or even a partner, but with continued practice you are able to deepen your intimate relationship with Christ each day yourself. Amazing Grace as Christ Walks By can lead you from being broken to being whole, in Christ. (from Outskirts Press back cover)

“Amazing Grace as Christ Walks By can lead you from being broken to being whole, in Christ”.

The above line is copied from Outskirts Press book description for “Amazing Grace… as Christ Walks By”, written by Carol Cline. While this is a very large claim to make, there are elements of this statement in the book.

I see Carol Cline’s book more as a short story collection, than a progressive autobiography. While the book is autobiographical, it also reads as a Daily Devotional – or maybe a Weekly Devotional. The book is written as a chronological telling of how Carol let Christ work in her life, and at times she is quite candid about very personal issues. The chapters are divided into years, (i.e. 1975-1980, 1983-1985, 1989-1991), but does contain some overlap – which I think is an excellent characteristic of Carol Cline’s writing. The chapters are divided, but also cross over critical topics.

One of the things I most appreciated when reading this book, was how open Cline has been about such issues as illness, rape, death, and family life. Both her biological family and the family she married in to. As I read about these often painful memories of Carol, I felt privileged to be a part of them.

There are some sections of the book that are a little disjointed and contain statements that seem out of place. For example, when speaking about one of her family moves, Carol’s paragraph includes a statement about having family members over for dinner the night Princess Diana died. I am not sure how that information fits the topic, other than giving us an additional time perspective – although I do not think that is necessary. I am not convinced this line is pertinent. This happens a few times in the book, (although not the same sentence about Princess Diana!), and I found these points to be distracting. I was left with a “what does that mean” feeling.

Carol Cline’s writing style is comfortable and free flowing – has almost a rocking sensation as the reader is lulled through up and down, back and forth, sentences. I find this writing style immediately draws me in to the feeling of “I’ve been here before” – has a familiar sound to it. This makes it easy to read.

Cline’s beliefs and emotional attraction to Christ is evident immediately from the title, and continues throughout each chapter. There is no doubt that Cline has journeyed from “…Brokenness to Wholeness”, and she wants the rest of us to acquire the feelings she has grown into and matured with. While that may not be possible during this short work, (87 pages), Carol’s energy jumps off the page, and hopefully into the reader’s heart – to be led who-knows-where! Anything is possible!

“Amazing Grace …As Christ Walks By” may seem like a short, easy read – but do not kid yourself, there is a lot packed into these pages.

As I mentioned earlier, I think this book would work well as a Weekly Devotional – one chapter each week. I also think it lends itself to a small group setting for faith discussions. The chapters can be taken in sequential order, but I do not think anything would be lost by taking the chapters in random order. After all, Christ’s movement in our lives is not always sequential!

I do think this book might be better appreciated by Christians who are at the beginning of their faith journey. Christians who are farther along on their journey might not find enough substance to satisfy their needs. I also think that, should she want to do this, Carol Cline could turn this short book into a much longer read, by getting more detailed about facts, as well as more detailed abut her faith experience.

Overall, this is a good read, and one that can be re-read as the reader sees fit. Carol Cline shares events that are deeply personal and the reader can feel her pain – and her joy – through their own eyes. It truly is “Amazing Grace”.


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Book Review: “The Silent and the Lost” by Abu Zubair

Alex Salim McKensie, a war baby of the 1971 Bangladesh War of Independence, is adopted by the McKensies, an American family that has lost their only son in Vietnam. Years later, Alex falls in love with Sangeeta Rai, but their happiness is threatened when the enigma of his birth casts a dark shadow over their relationship. The Silent and the Lost opens with the wedding of Alex and Sangeeta in Brentwood, California on a sunny Saturday in 1997, then travels back into the boiling cauldron of political clashes of East Pakistan in early 1971. Through the eyes of newlywed Nahar Sultana, her husband, student activist Rafique Chowdhury, and their friends we are immersed into the nine months of revolution that created Bangladesh. On March 25, 1971, Nahar, Rafique, Nazmul and the Rahmans find themselves in the center of Operation Searchlight at Dacca University. Miraculously surviving, they escape to Sheetalpur village. Longing for vengeance and freedom, Nazmul and Rafique leave for the Mukthi Bahini guerrilla camps in Agartala, India. In a twist of fate, in a brutal family betrayal, Nahar is captured by the Pakistani Army. Destitute and in utter despair, tortured and mad, Nahar grips desperately to her last scintilla of hope-Rafique’s return. Two generations spread across two continents, thousands of miles apart, are brought jarringly together when Alex begins his search for answers to his beginnings. He discovers that his own struggle for happiness is inextricable from the history that he finds himself part of: the genocide that in 1971 ultimately created out of East Pakistan the new nation of Bangladesh. Set in a pivotal point of time, The Silent and the Lost powerfully chronicles the history of a revolutionary change in the socio-political landscape of the sub-continent, and takes us on a sinuous journey into a passionate and breathtaking untold account of heroism and betrayal, family and friendship, love and anguish-of the lives of the characters and millions of others swept up in the unfolding unrest, mayhem and suppressed genocide.  (from Barnes and Noble)

Padma Phool - Water Lilies - Bangladesh

When I think of a descriptive word that best describes “The Silent and the Lost” by Abu Zubair, the only word that applies is “beauty”.  Beauty in the pages and hardcover binding; beauty in the picture and artwork of the front cover; beauty in Abu Zubair’s words, sentences, paragraphs, and chapters; beauty in the relationships described; beauty in the flow of this incredible novel.  Once opened, I did not want to let go.  When I read the last word – I wanted more.  And the unusual, undeniable juxtaposition is that the root topic is one of deep unrest, family betrayal, and world struggle and war. Genocide.  True life facts of history wound up in a story bound to reach the heart of readers, in a way that will change the reader forever. 

Before reading Abu Zubair’s novel, my own knowledge of what happened between West Pakistan – East Pakistan – Bangladesh – was sadly lacking, even though my friend circle includes individuals whose own heritage springs from these conflicts.  That humbles me, and at the same time, makes me a little embarrassed – now having read “The Silent and the Lost”.  How could I have been so unaware of something that happened in my lifetime, happened as my high school years were ending, and university loomed on the horizon?  I shake my head in wonder that, at no time since high school or university, did I learn of the tragic events and sacrificed lives that took place in 1971. 

Abu Zubair does not leave much out of his descriptions of war and its tragedies, but nor were his descriptions anywhere near gore or horror.  Yes, there was gore in the actual historical events – there was horror in the actual events – but as with any skilled craftsman, Abu Zubair acknowledges and speaks to the gore and horror of these real life events, but he does not glorify the gore and the horror.  Which I must say, I keenly appreciated.  It allows for the storyline to remain front and centre. 

The novel takes place in two time spans: one in 1997 and one in 1971.  Each era has its own cast of characters, and there is no challenging maze of events to follow.  The reader will easily recognize when the chapter is to be about the events of 1997, and when it will be about the events of 1971.  Also, the author’s calendar dates are shown for each section of the book – very helpful. 

As I write the year ‘1971’, I am still trying to wrap my head around ‘such events’ happening in ‘this day and age’; and I am also sadly aware that tragic events like this continue to plague our world.  And those of us living in North America have so much to be grateful for, with respect to political and religious freedom.  Yes, troubles exist in our world but are nowhere near the magnitude of such battles, as the battle for Pakistan. 

There are also scenes and chapters of “The Silent and the Lost” that are filled with such love, beauty, and grace – my eyes brimmed over with tears as I transitioned from one generation to another, one chapter to another, and at times even one sentence to another.  But not all dreary and sad, this novel includes some very happy and joyful happenings in the lives of the characters.  Moments that brought smiles, not tears, to my heart. 

I was attracted to the subtle experiences of spirituality expressed or implied by the author about the characters.  Admittedly, spirituality is a grace I subconsciously (or consciously) look for no matter which book sits before me.  Nevertheless, I believe it was a real element of the story line – spirituality and the lack of spirituality. 

Although not necessarily meant in any other way than to comment on Muslim and Hindu differences, I was affected quite deeply by the following short paragraph – affected on a spiritual level, as well as on a moral level.  Based on how we need to work toward true peace, in this frequently “peace-less” world. 

                    “Remember, the enemy has penetrated our ranks and will try     to create division among us, and through looting create derisions in our ranks.  Hindus or Muslims, Bengalis or non-Bengalis, all are our brothers.    It is our duty to ensure everyone’s safety.”  (page 52) 

“The Silent and the Lost” reached me on many levels – intellectually, psychologically, spiritually, and not the least of which, emotionally.  This is a book I will treasure and re-read again and again. Because the topics which are covered in the books I read and review are so very different, I do not use a numbered rating system.  Even if I stated that the ratings held only “in the genre the book was written for”, as humans we love to compare and number comparisons between works of fiction and of non-fiction would be inevitable.  So, I steer clear of a number scale.  However, if I was to rate “The Silent and the Lost” on a number scale – it would rate the highest number possible.  When I received this complimentary book from the author, and it arrived clearly packaged with care, I knew I was holding something very special.  I am happy to be able to freely supply my review, and know this book truly is something special.

I highly recommend “The Silent and the Lost” by Abu Zubair be added to everyone’s to-be-read list, and I would be interested to hear everyone’s reaction to, and thoughts of, this book.  I certainly welcome comments be added to this post. 

Read and bring this book into YOUR life.


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Book Review: “Escaping Innocence (A Story of Awakening) by Joe Perrone Jr.

From Barnes and Noble:
Ah, “The Sixties” — a brief phrase that conjures up all kinds of amazing images…unless, of course, you weren’t there! It was a time when “free love” was anything but, and there was a heavy price to be paid for messing with “sex, drugs, and rock ‘n’ roll.” Find out what coming-of-age in that magical era “really” was like in the outrageously funny novel ESCAPING INNOCENCE (A Story of Awakening) by Joe Perrone Jr. Meet David Justin, an Italian-Catholic, height-challenged youth, desperately trying to escape the bonds of sexual repression and adolescent innocence that dare to hold him captive in — yes, you guessed it — “The Sixties.” Experience them for the very first time, or relive them again and again, but either way, for heaven’s sake, don’t miss ESCAPING INNOCENCE.

When I first received “Escaping Innocence” from the author, he cautioned me about the writing and the material in the book. Would I be able to step outside my own life and comfort zone, into the world of a young man from the 60’s who would face numerous trials, and various life transitions? (Including some colourful language). I said that I thought I was up for the challenge, and I am glad I said yes! Even though I was but a young child in the 60’s!

I was drawn into the book from literally the first page, which was a bit of a surprise! Joe Perrone’s writing style is very inviting and engaging. The humour of this book is definitely a bonus. The real emotions that are conveyed through the main character, David Justin, are extremely well and brightly written.

Although the life experiences written about in this book are not exactly the same as my own, Perrone’s narrative style allowed me to smoothly connect my life experiences with those of the main character, David Justin. In cases that were not at all present in my life, the lives of my friends and family filled in the blanks! I did not ever participate in the real Florida experience during my school days; my thoughts of what it would have been like were actually confirmed by the experience of David Justin! The innocence, combined with the open experience of David Justin, were brilliantly written by Joe Perrone, and I believe truly conveyed the average North American teen culture of the 60’s, as portrayed in news reels, movies, and memories of those who lived the 60’s as teens or young adults.

As far as the sexuality portrayed in “Escaping Innocence”, well, with a title such as it has, how could sexuality not be part of this book? Perrone portrays many types of sexual experiences in this novel, but I believe he does so in non-offensive ways. Straightforward, definitely, but non-offensive. I say that, but I also realize the words and descriptions may be bothersome or offensive to some readers, which is just a bit of a caution.

As far as the offensive language, it did exist, and in some chapters may have been a little overdone. When reading, I do not enjoy strong four letter words, but in this book, I found myself able to scan over them as they occurred. In general, my personal opinion remains that offensive language is never necessary. If authors feel the need to write in offensive language to convey character, a change in writing style might be better employed. I believe Joe Perrone’s writing style is such that offensive language is not required, and all his characters’ personalities are not dependent on the few offensive words they speak. And to that point, the amount of offensive language is very minimal, and accepted by even my critical eye. With the caveat that the title of chapter 30 could be changed!!

There were chapters in the book that did drag a little, and oddly enough, it was specifically the chapters written about the Florida experience. I found that Joe Perrone’s writing style changed a little in that part of the book, became less crisp and clear, and I thought became a little forced, and my interest waned a little. Once the character, David Justin, left Florida, Joe’s writing style was back on track. Maybe it was a section of the book that presented challenges to the writer?

College students do the twist on a Fort Lauderdale beach

Not only were the characters fully explored in the book, as a result of Perrone’s writing style, the characters’ life experiences came through as authentic and genuine. At times I could not wait to find out what was going to happen next! And I appreciated the smooth flow from chapter to chapter. As I was reaching the end of the book, my mind was racing ahead, wondering how the book was going to end! And at the same time, not wanting the book to end! But end it did; and the ending was perfect and fitting. Excellent final chapter.

However, the book is not all humour and laughter. The author does touch on quite serious subjects, some of which are unique to the 60’s, some experienced by teens and young people around the world, crossing through all generations. Subjects such as the Vietnam War, sexual orientation, drugs, and sexual experience in general. The author did not minimalize these subjects in any way, treating each with respect.

Overall, I would highly recommend this book as a way to look back to life in the 60’s – whether you lived it as a teen or not. And look back with delightful and surprising humour, or a real laugh out loud moment. I know a number of people will relate to the adventures portrayed, and will delight in reliving their own 60’s life style.

An extremely engaging read, one I will re-read a few more times.

As I mentioned above, the author emailed “Escaping Innocence” direct to me, and it was at no cost to me. (I have not yet purchased an eReader, so Joe emailed me a pdf copy). Joe Perrone was looking for an impartial review and I hope I conveyed that message. I will say that when I later saw what the cover of the book looked like; I really missed having the book in my hand!! The cover perfectly suits the narrative! I may have to buy the real book for my collection – especially as I really do intend to re-read this book a few more times!


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