3 out of 4 stars
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Driving in Reverse: The Life I Almost Missed is a poignant and awe-inspiring memoir by Lindsay Wincherauk.
Lindsay was the youngest of seven children. Even as a child, he didn’t feel loved by his siblings and his parents seem too old to hang out or bond with him like the parents of his classmates and peers. In a way, Lindsay felt guilty for coming so late in his parents’ lives and causing financial strains. His guilt intensified when they fought about money.
When Lindsay’s much older siblings moved out of the house to live their own lives, Lindsay and his brother Brian were left to help care for their father until the old man died of cancer. Their mother died of the same dreaded disease a couple of years after. With the death of his mother, Lindsay totally became an outsider in his family. In 2003, as he was trying to recover from a failed relationship, Lindsay planned a trip to Europe and accidentally uncovered a painful secret about his identity. As he desperately tried to put the pieces of his shattered life together in his epic 31 Day Escape to Europe with his friend Dave, he learned about an even more painful truth.
This is a poignant memoir of a brave and courageous man who never gave up on life. Told not necessarily in chronological order but in flashbacks and flash forwards, the book is a tale of an extraordinary man who endured physical, emotional, mental and psychological ordeal which include visual impairment, several surgeries (mostly on the knee), painful break-ups and life-shattering revelations. Most painful of this, I think, is the feeling of isolation that resulted from being alienated from his family for as far as he could remember.
The story is told in lighthearted and even comical tone, probably the author’s way of ‘turning pain into laughter’ and putting levity to an otherwise cumbersome load that is reality. I’m usually not a fan of figurative language but for some reason, I find the author’s excessive use of hyperbole fascinating.
The part I like most about the book is the emphasis on family. Family is not necessarily someone related to you by blood, but someone who supports you, accepts you and loves you for what you are.
The most important part of the author’s life story, for me, is the underlying message to never give up on life. No matter how painful and how difficult things get and no matter how screwed up things are, you accept things as they are and you don’t find someone to blame.
Needless to say, I enjoyed this book a lot and I learned so much from it. However, the manner of telling (flash backs and flash forwards) may be a bit confusing to some readers. Moreover, because of the jocular manner of writing, it may be difficult for some readers to distinguish between truth and joke. Finally, there are several noticeable errors within the entire book.
I, therefore, rate this book 3 out of 4 stars. It is inspiring and encouraging. I recommend it to readers who love memoirs and to those who enjoy stories about rising above adversity. References to drugs, sex and sexual activities, however, may not be suitable for young readers.
Driving in Reverse
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