4 out of 4 stars
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And Then I Met Margaret by Rob White is beyond a mere self-help book but is a beautifully penned non-fiction book which reads like a motivational memoir. White engages his readers with witty and sheer heartwarming stories of his life as well as the “gurus” who had the greatest impact on his life. White openly talks about experiences which resulted in a paradigm shift on many occasions in his life. He also shares how he used sometimes the most devastating, disappointing, aggravating or even humiliating experiences as a teaching moment for himself and for others.
White begins his string of stories in the very small town he grew up in, giving very intimate details of his home life and his eventual enrollment into college. We meet White’s family and garner intimate knowledge of not only his family but the customs of the small town he grew up in as well as how these customs and expectations impacted the decisions he made later on in his life. White talks extensively about his journey after leaving college to begin his teaching career and how he made the switch from a teacher to a successful businessman in the real estate and restaurant industries.
There were several things I liked about the book. The book is uniquely divided into twenty-one chapters which all feature “myths”, which are strongly held beliefs the author had prior to a life-changing experience. He would later resolve the “myths” at the end of each chapter based on what that particular experience taught him. I found this feature made the book interesting and added value to the book. It also created to some extent anticipation and suspense as I read. Apart from the use of “myths” throughout the book I also liked the way the author introduced the stories he would share at the very beginning of the book. It created a feeling of anticipation, willing me to continue reading to garner deeper details. I really liked that the author wrote the book in a way that made you feel as if you were going a journey with him through the pages. The stories were absolutely riveting. I truly enjoyed the conversational flow of the narrative and found it quite hard to put the book down once I started reading. One key reason for this was the fact that the book was not only very engaging but quite easy to read. The language was certainly not strenuous or convoluted and the book flowed like a heart to heart conversation with a friend. Life is undoubtedly a serious topic but White was able to provide several moments of comic relief despite the hard lessons he had to learn. His unbridled storytelling skills certainly had me laughing out loud on several occasions. There were also several moments that made me pause just so I could digest a very profound statement. It would be remiss of me if I did not mention that I only found a few errors while reading the book, and those errors did not take any enjoyment from reading the book.
Although I thoroughly enjoyed reading And Then I Met Margaret there were a few things that I did not quite like or felt could have be done a bit differently. I did not quite like the way some of the stories were ordered. The earlier experiences were often combined with later ones which made following each story a bit challenging. Granted that some of the stories were related because one influenced or led to the other, I would have preferred sticking to the order the author had at the very beginning of the book in which he told his story in a more chronological manner. For example, when he talked about a particular experience at the University of Massachusetts he then fast-forwarded to after he graduated and had a teaching job but then he regressed to talking about his college experience for the remainder of the chapter. This threw me off a bit but was not all detrimental to my overall enjoyment of the book. This was solely a minor observation and certainly does not take away from White’s gift of storytelling. Truth be told, in hindsight, I think his ability to switch between stories also made the book very unique and quite different from the other memoirs I have read.
This is definitely a book for readers who are seeking an inspiring slice of life kind of book. White’s memoir is an inspirational one, which reminds readers of life’s complexities and the “unexpected” people who are there to help us solve these mysteries. White was very open and honest in sharing some of his life experiences especially those from his youthful days. Reading this book felt like meeting the man himself. I must also add that I liked the skillful way he incorporated several stories and was still able to keep the story more about himself than about the people he met along the way. I truly admired his use of what I would call "writing control" where that is concerned.
I think we have all met at least one person who said something that stuck with us, be it positive or negative which makes White’s book very relevant and relatable. There were so many inspirational takeaways as I read. I particularly found where he talked about meeting Margaret to be quite inspiring to me. I really liked the element of suspense that fueled this particular story. As I read I kept wondering when I would meet the person who made such a significant impact on his life which compelled him to use the fact that they met each other as the title for his book. I was certainly not disappointed despite the wait. One other lesson I definitely learned from this book is the domino effect of a single act of kindness. Many of White’s stories definitely highlighted this.
I vehemently believe this book will be a great inspiration to anyone struggling to find their purpose in life or a sense of direction in terms of their career path. And Then I Met Margaret is a book that is just as important for prospective business leaders as it is for people going about their daily lives, meeting "unexpected gurus" who add value to their lives. It is a book full of quotes that will make you really stop and think deeply about your life - it most certainly did for me. I would definitely rate this book 4 out of 4 stars. I highly recommend it to anyone in search of a book that inspires, humor and transforms the mind and just like Rob White, you will experience “ a wonderfully disruptive moment” after reading this book!
And Then I Met Margaret
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