4 out of 4 stars
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I rate Mindset by Ace Bowers as 4 out of 4 stars. I really enjoyed this memoir and I found it to be well edited. The tone is light but serious, an adult tale with respectful pieces of advice and honest humor. I found it easy to relate to the author’s story, and drawn into wanting to know more.
This book is a memoir written to be an inspiration of pulling oneself up by the boot-straps and moving from poverty to success. I did not grow up in poverty, but still hoped to find inspiration in the story. The writing style is anecdotal, vivid, and quick moving. The author speaks directly to the reader beginning with public elementary school and immediately the reader can empathise with the author as a young boy. The disappointment that he feels about his parents is tangible. However, we see him not telling us of his home strife with anger but with empathy. He speaks of imagining how hard it was for his dad to swallow pride and ask relatives for help with paying rent and supporting his family. In almost the same breath, he explains that his parents had no clue how to manage money, splurging on extras every week and consequently he had no budgeting skills for some time. It would be easy for this to be written in a bitter voice, but the empathy keeps the reader engaged. He continues to tie the past into his life today, talking about how he still cannot stand the scent of vanilla or how muffled voices in an air vent immediately trigger memories of the past. The conclusion of the story nicely wraps the fully story of his life into his present, and everything makes sense.
The story begins in elementary school and quickly moves to high school. Time passing is described through snapshot memories, such as when he had friends over playing video games and the power was suddenly shut off. Over and over he speaks of constantly having a supply of excuses for why his life might be different from everyone else’s, such as: the neighbors remodeling must have accidentally cut the power line, not possibly that the power had been disconnected. Despite surviving childhood, it is easy to see how graduating high school and being left by his friends then slipped him into depression and a bad time. It is easy to see how his dreams went up in smoke and how easily he landed in debt. At age twenty, he takes a fresh look at his life and after being angry, he realizes that he has put himself where he is with no job, resources, and bad credit. At this point his life slowly turns around and his work ethic carries him steadily forward. Then, there is a curveball. Suddenly, looking at his own reflection he saw his dad in himself, needing to care for a family. This is the giant shove he needed to surge himself forward.
Clearly, the author’s family had a huge impact on his life. His sister is a recurring character of support through childhood, helping him cope and a teammate to shield the outside world from the chaos of their home. His aunt clearly believed in him and helped him get a fresh start. His empathy and disappointment are paramount to the story, and play a major role. He clearly states his gratitude for family and familial support.
In the introduction of his tale the author mentions an “overcomer’s mindset”. This is the self-help guidance that many readers are looking for. To set up the reader to be ready for his advice and mentoring, the author first gives us his background story. It is not until almost a third of the way through the story that he again mentions this mindset. Soon after this we start receiving nuggets of wisdom, such as prioritizing family time. Respect and hard work have been a theme through the book and are taught again. The social skills learned through childhood often carry us through our adult lives. Most of us develop them over time, through this tale we can see his skills were developed early, and only sharpened as an adult. Perhaps the best advice given in this book is to become self aware (own your choices and the results) and decide what is in your control to change. The mindset to be open to new and change is just as important as a positive mindset (believing you can change). One must be motivated to change and to achieve.
There is some mention of God and angels. The author gives credit that God stepped in and lined up angels such as his aunt to help him. Not all readers will agree with this understanding, but the references are not overwhelming and can be skipped over by a non-believer. There are no sexual scenes, or explicitly violent scenes. Real life is described which can be messy, but it is respectfully written and not offensive. Likewise, all the language is appropriate for any age, albeit the subject is from an adult vantage.
Overall, I would recommend this book to be added to anyone interested in changing and improving their life. This book is written for an adult audience, but not because it is graphic or obscene. Rather the tone is often lighthearted, but the subject matter is not and it takes an adult conscience to appreciate the references, desires, and depression that carry the reader along. The writing is clear, and well edited. The story progresses quickly and smoothly. I did not notice any errors and the story took over the writing - there was no effort required to read. I would certainly consider reading more books written by this author.
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