4 out of 4 stars
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In his book I Guess I Just Wasn't Thinking Part One: Instead of Skipping Stones, author W.K. "Jake" Wehrell weaves together a world of fiction revolving around the life of the protagonist, Roger Yahnke. The story begins with young Roger wanting to gift his mom with something special but ends up not getting the gift he'd lustfully eyed. Disappointed, he buys his mom something else, which she gladly accepts but leaves Roger feeling like a failure. The story then progresses through his schooling years all the way to his budding career as a navy pilot.
Although the story spans from the time Roger is nine years old to when he's in his mid-twenties, there are a lot of memorable and often hilarious situations that he encounters during this time. The author paints a realistic picture of what it was like to grow up in New Jersey in the 1940's and 1950's and his vivid but subtly done descriptions had me giving my approval all the way through. I was also pleased that each of the chapters reads as a stand-alone detailing specific experiences that Roger went through, plus the lessons he picked up from them. The story ends on a suspenseful note when Roger develops an unforeseen condition that he very well knows will negatively impact his love life. This is also the building block for the second book in the series, Part Two: The French Riviera, Leo, June, and Big Trouble, which I look forward to reading.
Roger's likable, hardworking character is constant throughout the book and his winning streak is maintained throughout his life. On more than one occasion, he has unfortunate encounters with bullies but he still maintains his cool. One time he and his mom were working at the same summer camp when Roger accidentally made fun of the camp caretaker's sons. This put him in a potentially dangerous situation as the enraged caretaker was out to get him. To keep himself safe, Roger literally stayed close to his mom during the remaining camp duration and was more than glad when the job eventually ended and they returned home.
Themes of friendship, family, hard work, obedience, religion, romance and career growth are artfully tackled. I found a lot of this material used because it's still relevant in today's society. Narrated in the first person from Roger's perspective, this adds a very personal tone to the book and It felt like I was listening to a close friend narrate to me his life story.
The only fault I found with this book is that it lacks a table of contents but that doesn't prevent me from giving it a rating of 4 out of 4 stars. It seems to be professionally edited, thus free of noticeable grammatical errors. It's a book I would recommend to anyone who craves a good read and anyone with children because besides being sprinkled with parent-child interactions, it also provides insight into the workings of young man's mind.
I Guess I Just Wasn't Thinking
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