3 out of 4 stars
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The plight of Baby Boomers (those born between 1946 – 1966) has been much talked about in recent years as this generation is near, entering, or enjoying retirement. In the book A BONZA Life: The Story of a Baby Boomer, author Brian Murphy describes the need to find solutions to maintaining the financial, mental, and physical health of these individuals.
The story begins with a thorough review of Murphy’s life growing up post-World War II in Australia. Raised in a family with 6 children, Brian had a happy, carefree childhood full of fond memories in the ‘50s and ‘60s. Time with friends playing marbles, listening to the Beatles and Bee Gees, discovering girls, and family vacations. The reminiscing of his childhood years could apply to any boomer in the world during that time and was enjoyable to read. There is no denying that it was a unique time to be growing up. I have always felt that to truly know a person, you need to find out what makes up their inner being. Once you have this information, you can understand more fully who they are. That helps explain why the author’s carefree childhood progressed into a shiftless attitude as an adult. Fortunately, most Boomers that I know are more ambitious!
Murphy finally discovers his life purpose when he joins the Grey Army in Australia, which focuses on employment for those over 50 years of age. This leads to his work to help the Boomer generation retire gracefully and with purpose. He develops this through the Grey Skills program in New Zealand as well as his website BONZA (Baby Boomers of New Zealand and Australia). Even though the structure of retirement looks different in New Zealand and Australia, the basic concept of his program can be applied anywhere if there is a need.
There are enough missing or misplaced words that I question whether this book had a final edit. The author could also have employed a more linear outline in his retelling since he often jumped around and repeated information from one section to the next. One example is that he spoke about his children throughout the story, then in a section titled Parenting, he reviews each of the children’s lives from birth to present, including the parts we already knew. The rambling and repetitive storytelling in this book touches on boring and is what I liked least.
Overall, I feel that Brian Murphy’s story is inspirational only to those that are still drifting through life at an advanced age. He had held 50 jobs (by his own account) and was still looking for direction in his late 40’s. Even though he finally found his life purpose, he talked of being mentally and physically exhausted from the effort it required. When I read biographies, I am usually looking for something more uplifting and I did not find that here.
Due to the grammar issues and the lack of linear focus mentioned above, I rate this book a 3 out of 4 stars. I am being generous because I feel that Murphy’s work with Grey Skills and BONZA would have more meaning to someone in New Zealand or Australia. There is a minor amount of sex and drug talk described in the teen years. This book is written specifically for the Baby Boomer generation.
A Bonza Life
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