3 out of 4 stars
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Squirrels and Heaven by Randall Rickel is a brief autobiography of Randy’s life starting with him as a teenager. When Randy and his friend Mike have a little fun with squirrels as they work on the farm, a simple mistake has life-changing consequences. Electricity at thousands of volts rushes through the boys leaving them both in the hospital for weeks, but that was only the beginning of the effects. When the doctors decide to amputate Randy’s foot, the whole course of Randy’s life must take a drastic shift.
My favorite part about this book was learning about how prosthetics were made in the 1970s. I enjoyed reading about how Randy needed to prepare his stump for fitting, and Randy gives a reasonably detailed account of his experience without making it too lengthy or boring. I also enjoyed reading about how Randy dealt with the loss of his foot. As Randy writes, “Losing a limb doesn’t mean life is over. It just causes a person to choose a different direction.”
What I liked the least about the book was the final chapter. This chapter briefly described all of the jobs Randy had for the rest of his life. It was somewhat interesting, and it helped make his point that losing a limb doesn’t prevent you from carrying on with life. The chapter, however, read more like a list or summary than like a continuation of the story. I would have preferred a chapter that wrapped up the story of Randy’s early days and experiences with a prosthetic followed by an epilogue or appendix that described the remainder of his life.
Squirrels and Heaven is a short autobiography, making it very easy to read in a few sittings. Also, there were not any instances of profanity. The details of the accident are not graphic and provide a warning on the dangers of electricity. For these reasons, I would recommend this book to younger readers or to older ones with limited time.
The book was an interesting read that covered Randy’s experience with losing his foot. It provided an account of what struggles a person must face when he or she suffers a life-changing event but also how determination and perseverance can enable him or her to overcome the obstacles. There were several typos and errors in the book, but they did not detract from the story. For these reasons, I rate this book 3 out of 4 stars.
Squirrels and Heaven
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