Tuesday, August 9, 2022

#BookReview - If I Could Do It All Again by J.R. Klein

If I Could Do It All Again

By: J.R. Klein
Publisher: Del Gato
Publication Date: July 17, 2022
ISBN: 978-1-7368101-5-6
Reviewed by: Diane Lunsford
Review Date: August 8, 2022

J.R. Klein shares life experiences in a bittersweet account across the pages of his autobiography: If I Could Do It All Again.

Klein opens his life’s journey in sharing a delightful memory of his ponderance of growing corn. His curiosity wouldn’t be satisfied until he understood how one kernel of corn could grow into massive fields of corn stalks. So, he does what any curious lad would do. He plants a kernel of corn in the front yard of his childhood home. Imagine his joy and surprise months later when the front lawn of his childhood home is the ‘curb appeal’ for his neighbors to witness when a series of corn stalks now occupy the front of their house. Klein wasn’t a menace by any means during his formative years. However, he certainly learned how to push the envelope along the way to feed his lifelong curiosity with experimentations.

Klein spends his early years participating in the shenanigans and antics typical of young boys. It was a time when moms and dads were at ease letting their young ones explore and seek adventure in the great outdoors. Growing up in the burbs of Chicago, Klein had many opportunities in those days to challenge danger. One of his ‘go to’ playgrounds was the rail yards of Chicago. How fun it must have been to hop the rail cars from one to the next. How horrified was his mother when she witnessed him doing so from her beauty parlor seat across the way? Perhaps there is truth to the sentiment that parents’ grey hairs truly do come from the antics of their offspring.

Klein steps from the comfort of his childhood and continues his life’s journey into adolescence and from ninth to eleventh grade attends Maryknoll Seminary. Struggling with the questions of where his life goes from there, after three years, he knows the Seminary is not the life for him. He has a passion for science and there wasn’t an overabundance of this on the curriculum at the Seminary. He returns to Lyons Township High School in La Grange to finish his senior year. At this point, Klein realizes his aptitude and love is certainly within the realm of science and recognizes his love of biology. Beyond high school, he attends the community college to expand on his biology studies and the looming war in Vietnam and the draft are on his horizon. Not a fan of the war, Klein is secure with his student status and is certain (until he isn’t) he won’t get drafted.

I applaud Mr. Klein for writing his autobiography. He pens his life’s journey in a unique and engaging way that delivers wonderful moments of interest throughout this read. His ability to capture words and place them in a way that engages his reader is magnificent. His voracity to read is foundational to his ability to write and deliver this engaging book. "...I had an urge to write something heartfelt. I had recently read several books that were awe-inspiring when it came to writing...I learned from all three books that to write good fiction it’s necessary to open your soul and pour out everything inside. The emotions need to be intense and penetrating. Yet, it is important to adhere to the fundamental tenet of good fiction writing, that is, to write sentiment, not sentimentality. Putting sentimentality into writing is easy, but cheap and ineffective. As Flannery O’Connor said, sentimentality is a ‘distortion of sentiment’..." The essence of this passage and Klein’s adaptability to the true art of writing says it all. By recognizing this, Mr. Klein entrenches his ability to write solid and engaging prose. I say bravo and I certainly look forward to your next body of work. You have led a fascinating life and I commend you for sharing it in an interesting way. 

Quill says: In each life there is interest. However, it is the storyteller’s job to make it interesting and author J.R. Klein succeed in spades in his captivating If I Could Do It All Again.

To learn more about If I could Do It All Again, please visit the author’s website at: jornrklein.com.

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