3 out of 4 stars
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Benjamin Street by Rick J Barret is a fictional tale that follows the story of Jack Bartlett who has just turned seventy-five. He has lived a full life, acquired multiple awards in his career, but his real passion is his family. His recent medical check-up says he is a picture of perfect health, but he feels exhausted and sluggish.
Pulling onto Benjamin Street, he suddenly feels an epiphany and bought a dilapidated six-unit apartment on 418 Benjamin Street, Pontiac, Michigan. His intent is to renovate the building, even though it is close to a wrecking ball, in hope that he would find healing in the project. His friend and business partner, David Abramson, thinks he bought a worthless piece of property and is disgusted by it. However, Jack moves to make him see reason as the building holds so many memories that helped to shape him.
At the end of the book, I was a bit confused about the genre of the book because the name of the author and the protagonist are quite similar. The author has done a fine job in making the book real and relatable with pictures of the building and his style of writing.
Jack took David down memory lane to 1943, which was a time of war. He told him about Mr. Spinelli, Mr. Stewart, Mrs. Frazier, the Blooms, the Benjamin Bombers, and several others. The Benjamin Bombers comprised of his closest friends: Sam, Harry Bloom, Buddy, and Peachy. The author did an excellent job developing all the characters and giving them flesh.
Back then, Jack was called Skeeter, a nickname given to him by his parents. I wonder why he was given that name because, according to the book, Skeeter is a mosquito and Jack didn't have the qualities of the pest.
Several events in the book brought both laughter and tears. One that left me in stitches, was when Peachy tried to teach Sam, Buddy and Skeeter how to French kiss. Skeeter freaked out when he felt her tongue, ha! Harry Bloom, nicknamed ‘the worm’ by Sam, and Buddy Carnes have heart-wrenching stories about the effect the war had on them that would leave you deep in thought for days.
What I liked most about the book was the protagonist, Skeeter. He is known to be wiser than his years and the best friend to each of his friends. His kind-hearted nature showed when he asked his mom if they could switch apartments with Mr. Spinelli. Mr. Spinelli was sixty-seven-years-old and was having trouble climbing up and down the stairs because he lived on the second floor.
There was nothing I didn’t like about the book except for the errors. There are punctuation errors on almost every page. More than halfway through the book, I encountered several grammatical errors that made it seem like the editor got tired. The errors comprise of missing words, extra words and wrong words. In chapter 26, page 172, the sentence “I couldn’t wait them to come out for the traditional meal” is missing a word. Due to the errors, I sadly have to rate Benjamin Street 3 out of 4 stars. The book deserves a thorough round of editing.
I recommend this book to anyone who likes a good read and likes short stories, though about the same set of people. If you like an action-packed novel, this is not the book for you.
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