4 out of 4 stars
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Did I Ever Tell You About My Grandfather? is a rollercoaster of a read and one of the most impactful books I have read this year. Joe first introduces his grandfather, Yoyol Chopnipski, and his hilarious and challenging move to America. In 1916, Yoyol, who was only eight years old, was to go to New Brunswick, north of New York. On the way, he realized there was more than one New Brunswick, and his troubles started. While trying to trace his family, he met an Amish community who took him in and helped him learn English and the American ways. Yoyol later changed his name to Joe, in honor of a man he came to love and respect.
Joe Arthur was born to a difficult childhood and family life. His father and sister tormented and abused him, openly stating they hated him. His grandfather, Joe, was his source of comfort and help whenever things got too challenging. Joe helped him realize his skills and academic potential and took him on several trips to cheer him up on dreary days. A rather heartbreaking instance is when Arthur’s father promised to let him take flight lessons if he got a B in his exams. Arthur worked hard and managed an impressive A, only for his father to go back on his word. To him, the deal was a B, not A. As Arthur grew over the years, so did his grandfather’s influence in his life and their community.
Did I Ever Tell You About My Grandfather? by Prof. Joe Arthur is a highly descriptive and engaging read. The author excellently introduces and describes each setting, enabling the reader to visualize and experience every interaction and scene. There are also instances of humor, like Arthur’s reaction when he first saw a television remote. Additionally, when outlining the differences between the two boarding schools he attended. Another unique aspect is the use of analogies by the author to explain some stages of his life. For instance, he likened the chemical structure of water and its three states to his life in boarding schools and wrongful stay at a mental health institution.
What I love most about the book is the educational and inspirational nature of it. The author carefully explains every activity he takes from art, astrophysics, civil rights movements, among others. Every lesson and inspiration he could master from his grandfather is in the book. My favorite quote is, ‘Ten percent of life is what happens to you, and ninety percent is how you handle it.’ There is absolutely nothing to dislike about the book; the timelines are specific and easy to follow, and the entire read feels like a personal conversation with Joe Arthur. The emotions the book evokes are immense. For instance, there was a gripping moment where Arthur was at his lowest and was entertaining some terrifying thoughts.
I found only four minor spelling errors, evidence of the book’s professional and excellent editing. The language employed is intelligible, with only one case of minor profanity, making the book suitable to all interested readers. However, since the author is Jewish, the book has a lot to do with the faith and explains Jewish traditions and practices. It also has some heartbreaking bullying incidents and mental abuse, which might trigger sensitive readers. Nevertheless, the book is a worthwhile read that explains various societal injustices like racism, religious persecution, and women's movement over the years. I highly recommend the book to those looking for an inspiring and amazing read about a boy, his grandfather, and the immense life lessons he embedded in him. The book deserves a rating of 4 out of 4 stars.
Did I ever tell you about my grandfather?
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