Very encouraging for someone that has had a very abusive childhood. There is always hope and your dreams do come true. Just always keep them before you. I recommend this book for someone trying to heal from childhood physical and mental scars.
Michael Soward looks back on his life and shares the lessons from his life that he has learned that have helped him be a positive person.
He recounts his growing-up years under the care of his grandmother in the segregated south where he received weekly beatings that often drew blood. His mother had passed away and his father had left him and his brother under her care. He grew up in a very poor home, often eating bread for breakfast that his grandmother heated up in the woodburning stove to chase the ants off.
After having lived such a difficult life, I think it is very commendable that Mr. Soward is able to look at things so positively. I think that it is his passion for his Lord Jesus that is the connecting theme that holds this positive outlook together. His faith is part of all that he does. It guides him in the choices he makes.
Sometimes I felt that Mr. Soward was talking specifically to a black audience or a black male audience and so I felt that that particular section was not relevant to me. Perhaps it was simply his choice of phrasing "The Pain andJoy of Living Black Male-Wise", "type of things that happen to black fathers on this, our very special day"? In reality, I think that what he had to say is relevant to everyone, and I was thrown off by his word choice.
Mr. Soward's writing style appears to be somewhat rambling, rather like that of a journal or perhaps a personal conversation rather than a formal book. This is neither good nor bad, simply a matter of personal choice.
I think that there are some important lessons that we can take away from Mr. Soward's book. The most important one of course, is right there in the title Life-ology 101 If All Else Fails, Smile. Whatever happens in life, you might as well work towards finding the positive in it. I gave this book 3 stars out of 5.
Thank you to the author who provided a copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. A positive opinion was not required. All thoughts are my own.
This review was published on my blog Shelf Full of Books [...]
This story begins in Arkansas with the nine-year-old Michael, and his younger brother, abandoned by their father, living with their strict grandmother who regularly beats them. The family attend church regularly, he discovers at a young age, he has a gift for playing the organ and it is the beginning of a lifelong love of music.
In 1969,after working hard in the cotton fields, at eighteen he finally ‘escapes’ to live with relatives in Kansas City. Moving to the big city has a profound effect on the young man from the Deep South, especially at such a time of change, the age of drugs, sex and rock and roll had definitely arrived.
The story, which follows, is of one man’s journey, his marriage, fatherhood, hopes, dreams and foibles’. It is frank and honest, brutally so sometimes. He openly talks about his relationship with his father, the driving forces in his life and the leaps of faith, which have made him into the man he is today.
Throughout, this book runs a vein of the author’s deep religious belief and his faith in God, the importance of his church and love of music, which has sustained him through times of deep despair.
I have always loved reading memoirs, catching a glimpse into peoples’ lives and discovering the experiences, which have made them the person they are today. This is a very honestly written book, interesting and thought provoking, the journey of a young boy from the Deep South who ends up a father and grandfather living in New York, and all the bits in-between.
Life-Ology 101: If All Else Fails, Smile by Michael Soward offers a poignant memoir of his life through the troubled times of the 60's and 70's as a young African American boy growing up in the segregated South - taking place from a small, rural town in Arkansas, Michael Soward's life gives hope to others by offering his life story openly and honestly, inspiring other's to look to God and exhibiting that life is woven together by experiences - good and bad. Beginning in a small tar papered shack, the author openly reveals his life with his younger brother, Gregory, being raised by their elderly grandmother. Abandoned by their father and knowing their mother had passed, life in rural Arkansas was difficult. The author tells of his childhood trauma receiving many beatings from his grandmother until blood was drawn. Work started at age six for young Michael in the cotton fields - which is an experience in its self. His story is unique, and heart breaking at times, yet offers refreshment from a perspective of someone who lives to tell the history of the times, involving the 60's, the Vietnam War, the 70's and the many changes America experienced through these times in history's past.
What you will find in his story is an encouraging nudge forth to look upwards to God teaching the reader to learn to just smile - throughout the good and the bad. He offers his story as an epilogue of faith that there is a God, and in fact, life is without tribulations, but we can still look up and smile. This is a delightful read for those that enjoy true-life stories that shed light, like a "spiritual flashlight" that leads others to their salvation in the Lord Jesus Christ. This book helps others to "count their blessings" and inspires others to live a life loving others.