2 out of 4 stars
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Death comes for us all. In the end, I think we all want to know that our lives mattered to someone. In From There to Here Ian McMillan reminisces about his life over 80 decades.
As a young boy, math had it in for Mr. McMillan, so he dropped out of school. His first job was at a bakery, but before long he moves on to a nursery. What he really wants to do, though, is become a ship boy in the Navy. Since he's only 14, he must have his parent's approval. They agree, but his grandfather tears up his papers. While he's mad, he decides to bide his time until he turns 18. At that time, he can enlist without his parent's approval which he does. His life afterwards is full of different ports, duties and drinking.
It's always hard for me to review memoirs as it feels like you are grading someone's life. I have the utmost respect for those that are brave enough to expose their faults and failures to the world. Nevertheless, this is what I've been asked to do. However, while I am critiquing the book, I am in no way grading or judging the author's life.
Having said that, there are several flaws I found with this story. First, the author goes off on tangents randomly throughout his story. While for the most part the author tells his story chronologically, he sometimes jumps around in time or interjects thoughts about current events. For example, he discusses an election that is taking place at the current time while he was discussing his childhood. He admits that it was a tangent and needed to vent, but that doesn't make it more enjoyable for the reader. This interrupted the flow of the story unnecessarily and made it feel disjointed.
A second thing I noticed was how very little the author talks about his family. He does get married, but very little is said about his courtship or marriage. We are told that she cannot conceive and that they adopt a son named Alex. Once again, though, there is nothing more regarding him until we are told of his profession. This made me feel that the author only really cared about his many jobs over the years, but I'm sure this is not true.
Unfortunately, I'm not convinced the book was professionally edited either. The novel was full of run-on sentences one right after another. This too disrupted the flow of the story. I found myself breaking up the sentences as I went along which was a little frustrating.
The last thing I would like to mention is that the author has quite a long career in the Royal Navy followed by the Merchant Marines. To those that are interested in the sea and ships, this would probably be interesting. For me, it was kind of boring and tedious. There were also terms that I was unfamiliar with.
While I appreciate the author's service and the obstacles he overcame, the execution of the book leaves something to be desired. Thus, I rate From There to Here a 2 out of 4 stars. I would recommend this cautiously to those who are very much interested in life at sea in the service of one's country.
From There To Here
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