3 out of 4 stars
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Notes to Jacqui by Ronald A. Tomo is a non-fiction book about the author’s recollections and lessons learned as a polio survivor, businessman, and family man. It is written as a series of notes to his daughter Jacqui. Mr. Tomo contracted polio at seven months old. He owes his survival in large part to his mother; she researched a medical book and demanded specialists review his case after feeling the initial doctor misdiagnosed the symptoms as the flu. The author’s determined personality helped him to adjust to his disability and thrive in his personal life and career.
The book is written in the style of a “life” manual about different topics, with a key point of advice in each chapter. The information ranges from the personal to the professional, including tools he learned as an executive. The tips are typical, well-known pieces of motivational advice such as the reality of something you are afraid of is usually less than what you imagine, don’t worry about what others think of you, pay it forward, don’t settle when looking for your true love, the importance of being decisive, etc. The format of dispensing words of wisdom along with the author’s related experiences is very effective. I found it a more interesting way of learning about the author’s life vs. a traditional memoir style.
There is a fascinating section about Mr. Tomo’s lifelong Ham Radio hobby and his intention to leave the equipment to Jacqui. One of my favorite passages is about how his hobby led to setting up an emergency communications network in Haiti after the 2010 earthquake. The chapters on management and thinking quickly on your feet are particularly insightful and include the importance of situational awareness.
There is a rambling feel to the story at times. This is due in part to a compressed format, without extra line breaks before and after each highlighted tip. It reminded me of someone shoving as much writing as possible into the finite space of a handwritten greeting card. Adding to the busy appearance is the random placement of the main piece of advice in the middle, rather than the beginning or end, of each chapter. I think the story would have had a smoother flow if the layout had been formatted better.
The story is not written in chronological order, with the exception of the beginning. It is more of a series of general nuggets of advice, backed up with reminiscences from various periods in the author’s life. The writing style is easy to understand although a bit long-winded at times. There are photos included in each chapter which added to the personal feel of the story. However, some of the photos seem plopped in some chapters for no related reason, such as photos of the family’s dogs and Ida Tomo’s (the author’s mother) birthday party.
I rate this book 3 out of 4 stars. It is an informative read, with just the right touch of heart without turning sappy. I would recommend this book to readers who enjoy self-help, motivational books. The author’s positive attitude shines throughout the story, with thoughtful commentary about all aspects of life. Jacqui is lucky to have him as a father.
Notes To Jacqui
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