3 out of 4 stars
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John lived a charmed life. He had played baseball in the major leagues as a member of the Boston Red Sox. Then, he met and married Susie, the love of his life. They had four talented and beautiful children. John was content with his career and happy with his family life. How, then, could his son end his life? How had he missed the signs that Will was contemplating suicide? What had happened to his perfect life?
In the nonfiction book, My Living Will, John Trautwein reminisced about the life of his oldest son, Will. He recalled Will’s birth, childhood, and youth accomplishments, including his recent desire to obtain his driving permit. John felt overwhelmed and crushed by the tragedy that enveloped their family. He decided to use these circumstances to help others avoid the pain that threatened to drown him in a sea of despair. John wanted to impress on people the importance of showing love and acceptance of others. Readers learn about the events that motivated the formation of the Will to Live Foundation.
John’s story offers advice on how to remain connected to children through all the stages of life. He informs and alerts parents about what to watch for in their children as possible signs of emotional distress. He mentally relived the last night he spent with his son, trying to detect any signs that could have indicated his son’s intentions. These reflections and his conclusions help parents become aware of signs they may overlook or dismiss as typical teenage behavior. The family photos added a poignant quality to the story.
My only dislike about the book was that I would have liked to hear more from Will’s mother. I realize that John has shared his personal experience as a father and the events that inspired the Will to Live Foundation. Maybe Susie will share her memories and healing journey with the mothers of suicide victims.
The text was well edited, but I did notice some misspelled words and missing commas. The book did not contain any profanity or inappropriate scenes, although there are some sensitive sections. I found the details of how Susie discovered her son’s body, the description of the funeral, and the debate about what to do with Will’s room to be emotionally draining.
I rate this book three out of four stars. The number of grammar errors led me to deduct one star. Suicides have increased in the past year during the pandemic. My Living Will is a powerful tool that I recommend to parents, teachers, counselors, and youth to learn strategies that strengthen relationships and fill readers with hope and a love for life. There is a link to the Will to Live Foundation for readers who desire to learn more about the program.
My Living Will
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