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So, yesterday was Father's Day, a belated "happy" to you all, and while I featured a Storybook Roundup celebrating dear old dad, I couldn't help another title from entering my mind. It's an unlikely choice at first glance, and frankly even second considering the darkness it inhabits, but LIFE isn't all sunshine and roses. Sometimes we have to take the good with the bad and test the strength of "for better or worse", much to our own chagrin. Despite all the heartache and hardship, this story DOES in fact have a Father (in both senses of the word) that loves his children without end, and while it may take a while to get there, is bound and determined to find a way back to the happiness they once shared. So, if you're ready, let's meet today's book of choice and recent book birthday celebrate...
Fiction Studio Books
About the book...
Mac Anderson holds life in the palm of his hand. He has a beautiful wife, three loving children, a comfortable home, and a successful career. Everything is perfect—or so it seems. Tragically, Mac is destined to learn that any sense of security can quickly prove false. Because an invisible enemy called Post Traumatic Stress Disorder has invaded Mac’s fragile mind and it is about to drop him to his knees. He does all he can to conceal his inner chaos, but to no avail. Left to contend with ignorance, an insensitive justice system, and the struggles of an invisible disease, he loses everything—most importantly his family.
One shoebox might store an old pair of sneakers. Two shoeboxes might contain a lifetime of photographs. But in Three Shoeboxes, a father’s undying love may be just enough to make things right again.
Mac seems to have a PERFECT life...a wonderful wife, three lovely children, and a job that he's not only good at, but enjoys...until one day, he's under attack. The worst part? It's not a physical presence from which he can defend himself with fists or weapons, but a mental and spiritual one he'll need all the help he can get if he is to survive with any semblance of that perfect life still intact.
It was so sad to watch the family's decline...they were so happy, so together, but whatever it was he was going through was stealing it all away one attack at a time. As the story progresses, we uncover the root of this mysterious disease, but not without his seemingly sturdy house of cards falling completely down. They're stomped on, trudged through, and left for scavengers to drag off to the darkest corners...but then we see a ray of hope. We see a man in the lowest of low places reaching up to capture the hand of someone that'll never let us down, never give us more than we can handle, much as he promised his own children. Seizing that ray with all his might, he pulls himself hand over fist, and heart over it all, back to the land of the living, but to what end? Everything he ever worked for, everything he ever built with or for someone...is gone. A devastating blow to someone coming back from the brink...well it might be to someone less dedicated, someone who had truly lost every ounce of what it means to be HUMAN, or the priorities of a truly great Father...but sometimes the hardest of lessons learned make an impact we CAN'T forget, and placing his life in the hands of the one who first gave it, opening himself up to all the lessons around him, may just be the way to his own heaven on earth.
I admit, I LOVE THIS AUTHOR'S WORK....you know, in case you haven't already seen my multiple reviews in days gone by. Grant it, I adored the past releases more than a few of the current "best sellers", but this one is a semi-return to those "days of glory". Mr. Manchester is known for writing heart warming stories with a great deal of heart wrenching along the way, but he never leaves his characters unfinished, or in utter despair. True, he follows the "take the bad with the good", but he always manages to bring them back from the brink, a more complete version of themselves, while shining a golden light on those lessons that are often hardest to learn. He celebrates family, faith, and the simple things in life, while managing to not write a fairy tale version of it all. Take this one...the first half of the book is quite literally Mac's decline into his own personal h*ll. It shows how while some men are taught to be stalwart and strong, sharing only the barest portions of what they consider weakness to their friends and family, we were meant to SHARE our journeys as well as our burdens to make it through this life one step at a time. Had he done just that, his path wouldn't have been smooth by any means, but it may not have spiraled so completely into despair that the only outcome he could see was darkness with no one at the wheel to guide it otherwise.
All in all, it's a story that isn't pretty in the classical sense, but it speaks to the masses just the same. Sometimes we DO have to take the good with the bad, but it doesn't mean there isn't an easier way out of the trenches, or a guiding presence that never leaves our side. Even in our darkest hour, there's always someone we can turn to who's never more than a heartbeat away, and asking for help is never a weakness, but a strength. Being able to recognize we need someone else to lean on shows courage, and wisdom, not dependency or cowardice, so long as we put the work in as well to get us where we need to be. My only critique would be the length of time Mac's spiral takes, or rather how much of the book it occupies (quite literally around 50%). I understand it wasn't something that happened overnight exactly, but personally I feel that portion could have been halved while still achieving the overall fantastic results. Recommended for fans of this author's work, as well as Contemporary Fiction readers from late teens to adult.
About the author...
Steven Manchester is the author of the #1 bestsellers, Twelve Months and The Rockin' Chair. He is also the author of the award-winning novel, Goodnight, Brian, as well as the critically-acclaimed novel, Pressed Pennies, A Christmas Wish (Kindle exclusive), Wilbur Avenue (novella), Just in Time (novella), The Thursday Night Club (novella, released November 2014) and Gooseberry Island (novel, released January 2015). His work has appeared on NBC's Today Show, CBS's The Early Show, CNN's American Morning and BET's Nightly News. Three of Steven's short stories were selected "101 Best" for Chicken Soup for the Soul series. When not spending time with his beautiful wife, Paula, or their four children, this Massachusetts author is promoting his works or writing.
Special thanks to author Steven Manchester for the ecopy for review. (THANKS!) For more information on this title, the author, his other works, or the publisher, feel free to click through the links provided above. This title is available now, so be on the lookout for it on a bookstore shelf or virtual retailer of your choosing.
Until next time, remember...if it looks good, READ IT!