3 out of 4 stars
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It Takes Courage by Sam Lora chronicles the author's journey from overcoming the trauma of childhood abuse to becoming a father and successful business owner. The book's title is based on the quote from E. E. Cummings: "It takes courage to grow up and become who you really are." With heartfelt honesty, Lora describes the rejection, abandonment, and pain he suffered at the hands of his parents. He chronicles moving from the Dominican Republic to the United States in 1986, fighting for survival as a homeless teenager in the Bronx, and the assortment of jobs he worked before starting his own tire repair business. Lora shares that his faith in God came about as a result of the years he spent praying for help: "I spent most of my life talking to Him when nobody else was willing to listen." He encourages readers not to give up regardless of how many times they feel knocked down by others and hopes his book will help others "realize their potential."
I finished this 50-page book in one sitting. It was heartbreaking to read that Lora's parents verbally and physically abused him and treated him like the family servant. However, Lora's overall message was positive, and his success story exemplified that faith and perseverance can be instrumental in overcoming life's injustices. Although his mother habitually referred to him as "retarded," Lora refused to give up: "I look back and wonder where I would have been if I had listened to my mother."
To say that I admire Lora's faith and resilience would be an understatement. He didn't allow his brutally abusive upbringing to define him, and I particularly enjoyed the way he wrote about his daughter, Gianna. Her life will reflect that she is the apple of her father’s eye, and the cycle of abuse will be broken.
Lora concluded the book with a touching letter to his daughter and featured some adorable photos of his little girl. The only thing I disliked about the book was the inclusion of several upside-down photographs. To clarify, it wasn't a matter of landscape versus portrait orientation where flipping a device would make a difference; they were formatted wrong side up and detracted from the book. I noted a handful of punctuation errors, but there was also a formatting issue that caused the text to drop to the following line, which isolated the first letter of each chapter. Due to the combination of these issues, the book didn't seem to be professionally edited.
For all of the above reasons, I rate It Takes Courage 3 out of 4 stars. Lora refers to his faith in God, but much of the content involves the universal topic of persevering amidst challenges that is relatable to believers and non-believers. I recommend the book to readers who appreciate short memoirs about overcoming adversity. The book contains no profanity, but sensitive readers should be aware that there are references to child abuse.
It Takes Courage
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