3 out of 4 stars
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James Cooley described his mother as "...a hardworking woman with soft doe eyes who had two, sometimes three jobs." She was the mother of ten children fathered by six different men. When Cooley was six years old, she sent him and his older brother away from the housing projects in Chattanooga, Tennessee to live with their uncle and aunt on their farm in the tiny community of Graham, Alabama. At the age of eleven, he returned to his mother in Chattanooga. In Country Boy, City Boy: A Journey That Ain't Over Yet, Cooley provides readers with a snapshot of his story as he adjusted from one lifestyle to the other. With humor and transparency, he shares how the challenges of his upbringing equipped him for the various destinations of his journey from childhood to a retired Navy Lieutenant.
Cooley's gift for storytelling is evident by the fact that I finished his 142-page book in one sitting. Readers will relate to his amusing anecdotes about living on a farm, as well as his more serious reflections regarding his faith, work ethic, naval career, and foundational philosophies. Cooley also coins meaningful acronyms like "Life: Love, Investment, Family, Empowerment," and the book is further enhanced by his inclusion of a photograph gallery, complete with detailed captions.
Given Cooley's flair for humor and strong work ethic, it isn't surprising that his high school peers selected him as both "Class Clown" and "Most Likely to Succeed." I especially like Cooley's ability to intertwine entertaining stories with the impact his faith has played in various destinations of his life's journey. Chapter titles like "That White Woman Done Lost Her Mind" give readers a glimpse into Cooley's life as an award-winning Navy officer who is funny enough to open as a stand-up comedian for Sinbad and Cedric the Entertainer but never loses sight of his faith as a priority.
Referring to his close-knit family and country lifestyle, Cooley recalls, "I learned about character and the importance of God and faith. Most importantly, I learned that while we weren't rich in dollars, we were rich in love." Cooley doesn't shy away from mentioning his faith, but his humble beginnings and rise to leadership touch on topics that will inspire a range of readers regardless of their beliefs. Time after time, Cooley has thrived in the face of adversity. While he developed "..the first Navy-wide at-sea physical fitness program" and served at the White House and Pentagon, he has also survived thyroid cancer and "persevered through forty-eight surgeries" after a nine-year ordeal that began with sleep apnea.
Although there isn't anything I dislike about the book, I will note that Cooley inconsistently uses both "six" and "6" on the same page. Also, the book has a visually professional presentation, but unfortunately, it has too many errors for me to award it a perfect rating. Most of the errors are the use of possessives instead of plurals. With a bit of polishing, the book has the potential to earn the highest rating, but in its present state, I must rate Country Boy, City Boy 3 out of 4 stars. I recommend it to readers who enjoy humorous stories about overcoming adversity. It contains one instance of borderline profanity.
Country Boy City Boy A Journey That Ain't Over Yet
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