4 out of 4 stars
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By William H. Coles
“Life is like a tire, sometimes you’re at the top and sometimes you’re at the bottom.” A renowned surgeon, Hiram McDowell was literally at the top of mountains. Mountain climbing was a hobby that he enjoyed, he became president of the International College of Surgeons, he has a foundation in Nepal, and gets to travel everywhere To top it all off he almost became secretary for healthcare in the US government. He has tasted the riches of life, has gone to the peaks of nature and yet, aside from all those grand events he comes home to a troubled family.
We weave through the story of Hiram via third person POV, which brings out the objectiveness of the novel. In the first part, we were bombarded with people that were involved with McDowell. We got to encounter his children, his wife at the time, his step-daughters, Michael O’Leary, Paige, and even his two lovers. Initially, one would get puzzled with all the names and their connections but as I read through it all, I became familiar with them. Hiram was a human being who had a lot of affiliations and activity, so he had to have a lot of connections naturally.
Upon knowing these people, we also read their impression towards McDowell. He was thought of as a man who played dirty and an arrogant prick whose only goal is to gain monetary wealth without any regards for other people around him. The people that sought to put him down started with his reputation; they targeted his credibility and moral ethics. Being dragged down in the mud, McDowell thought of writing his memoir, to prove his innocence. Along the way, he had met numerous people. These people read and critiqued his writing. They made McDowell not only see his life in an objective way but also to seize what is left in his life while there was still time to change. I believe that this book has given us a number of life lessons to live by.
One of the reasons why I have come to enjoy this book was Hiram’s character development. From a man who thought he had no fault and believed fate was cruel to him; he transcended into someone who realized his faults and was willing to improve his ways. He showed kindness to the people he encountered and worked as hard as he can to earn money. His character also showed his love for the arts and nature. McDowell really redeemed himself in the second half of the book. Another reason was that the story didn’t solely focus on Hiram’s journey but the people who were involved. We get to see the situation of the other characters even if Hiram was reconstructing his new life in the second half.
A particular scenario that stuck with me was when Paige was tasked to write Hiram’s biography, but what captured my attention was Charlie’s opinion about it. Charlie pointed out that Paige should be objective and allow the readers decide whether or not McDowell was the villain or saint. This teaches us that in a story or in life, there are two sides to everything. We should not jump into judgments nor conclusions too quickly because we don’t absolutely know the context, reason or intent the person had when he made those decisions.
I rate this book as a 4 out of 4 because even though I noted some minor errors, the book could teach us how to understand others better. Further more, this book shows us what it means to be human; that even if we did something wrong in the past, and were judged or brought down by it, we can always rise from the struggle and be better. The only time you should stop trying to become a better version of yourself is when you are dead. I would like to recommend this book to anyone, really. I think it would also be a great read for middle-aged adults who are workaholics and/or those who want to understand their lives more.
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