3 out of 4 stars
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A Contemplative Life by Charles F. Harrington is an entertaining memoir about the author’s reflections on pivotal moments in his life. He shares what it was like to grow up with four older brothers and four younger sisters in the suburbs of Massachusetts. He got married in his early thirties, raised three children, and divorced after twenty-five years. Harrington is a talented story-teller and writes about his childhood, romances, addiction, and losses to inspire readers to learn from his experiences.
Now in his sixties, Harrington writes about the different qualities of his family and friends that he admires. His mother taught him that difficulties in life are stepping stones to greater fulfillment. He explains that our greatest achievements have come when we allow ourselves to get through those uncomfortable times. “When you think life is getting the better of you, remember,…remember how much you’ve faced and overcome in the past.”
It was interesting to read about his comparison of our current education system, government, and media outlets to what he grew up with. Through personal stories, he shares how important his Catholic faith is, but does not force his beliefs. He has strong opinions, and also respects that readers will have their own perspectives on similar issues. His friendly tone is similar to having a conversation with a good friend over disagreements and learning from each other’s points of view.
Harrington shares many stories where he nearly faces death to emphasize that every day is not guaranteed. It is important to live with peace no matter what challenges you may face. As a baby-boomer, he empathizes with readers who are growing up in the current conditions of our society, “What we do have is selfishness, greed, violence, anger, rampant materialism, incredibly exaggerated sense of entitlement, envy and jealousy of success.” Throughout the book, he explains how to have a positive perspective so that readers can obtain this knowledge earlier than he did.
What I liked most about this book is that for every stage in his life, he includes personal letters, photographs, and poems that make his stories come alive. Readers can relate to his experiences and reflect on what he learned from them. I also appreciate his parenting tips to raise successful, bright, and compassionate young adults. There was nothing that I disliked about this book. I rate this book a 3 out of 4 because there are a few grammar errors and typos. I highly recommend this book to readers who enjoy reading about lessons learned through personal experiences. I will rate this book a 4 out of 4 if those few errors are corrected. I do not recommend this book to readers who are not interested in learning from coming of age stories. This book leaves you feeling inspired to find happiness in everything you experience.
A Contemplative Life
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