Book Review: Positive

Book Review:  Positive: A Memoir

by Paige Rawl

My Rating:  ***** (5 out of 5)

Why Did I Read?

My 8th grade daughter asked me to get this book from the library because she had to do a project on someone who has made a difference in the world.  She decided she wanted to do the project on something that interested her, and since bullying is something that she unfortunately witnesses far too often in her school, she decided to do her project on Paige Rawl, an advocate against bullying.  When I picked up the book from the library for my daughter and saw the front cover and read the summary, I knew right away it was something I would be interested in reading, too!

Summary (from Goodreads)

In this compelling and compulsively readable memoir, nineteen-year-old Paige Rawl tells the story of how she was mercilessly bullied in middle school…and how she overcame the ordeal to change her world for the better.

In this astonishing memoir, Paige tells a story that is both deeply personal and completely universal—one that will resonate deeply with the thousands of children and adults whose lives have been touched by bullying.

Paige Rawl has been HIV positive since birth…but growing up, she never felt like her illness defined her. It never prevented her from entering beauty pageants or playing soccer or making the honor roll.

On an unremarkable day in middle school, while attempting to console a friend, Paige disclosed her HIV-positive status—and within hours the bullying began. She was called “PAIDS,” first in whispers, then out in the open. Her soccer coach joked that she was an asset because opposing team members would be too afraid to touch her. Her guidance counselor told her to stop all the “drama,” and her principal said she couldn’t protect her. One night, desperate for escape, Paige swallowed fifteen sleeping pills—one for each year of her life to date. That could have been the end of her story. Instead, it was only the beginning.

The gripping first-person account of Paige’s life will pull in even the most reluctant readers of nonfiction, and her call to action to choose compassion over cruelty will stay with them long after they turn the last page.

What Did I Think/Recommendation:

I absolutely loved this book!  I could not put it down!  I think everyone should read it, especially middle-school and high-school students.  It was a very quick and easy read, but filled with so much wisdom and so many life lessons, all written by a 19-year-old girl!  The messages Paige shares apply to every one of us.  Positive educates readers on the important topics of HIV/AIDS, bullying, and suicide, but it also promotes gratitude, forgiveness, embracing your differences and loving yourself just as you are, and most importantly, kindness (my four favorite subjects!).

When the lawsuit against her middle school did not turn out in Paige’s favor, she came to the realization that she could still make a difference simply by telling her story.  She knew she needed to tell her story, not only for herself, but for everyone else who had ever been affected by bullying.  Paige’s story helped to create an antibullying law.  It raised awareness about HIV/AIDS, bullying, suicide, and other topics that are so relevant to our society today.  But most importantly, the story helps the reader to recognize that the qualities that make us different are the exact qualities that, when embraced, could be used to change the world, just as Paige did.

We all have a story.  We are all different in some way.  Although that difference may feel like a curse as it separates us from others, it has the potential to be a blessing.  Allow yourself to embrace your differences and recognize them as part of who you are.  DECIDE to view that difference as a gift, and know that you have the opportunity to use that difference to make this world a better place.

Find more reviews about Positive on Goodreads.

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Book Review: The Billy Best Story: Beating Cancer with Alternative Medicine

Book Review:  The Billy Best Story:  Beating Cancer with Alternative Medicine

by Billy Best as told to Linda Conti

My Rating:  ***** (5 out of 5 stars)

Why Did I Read?

I am friends with Billy’s sister.  She posted a link to this book on Facebook, and I was immediately interested.  I ordered it on Amazon right away and began reading it as soon as I received it two days later.  I was so fascinated by the story, I didn’t put the book down until I finished it!

Summary (from Goodreads): 

The Billy Best Story is the true account of a young man who, in 1994, became a media sensation at the age of 16 when he ran away from home to escape chemotherapy. As his parents and the police mounted a nationwide search for him, his story became everyone’s passion, and the television networks snapped up the story for Dateline, 20/20, A Current Affair, and more.

Thanks to that vast media coverage, Billy received an outpouring of support from the public, and he began a journey of discovery to find an alternative treatment for his cancer. Eighteen years later and still cancer free, Billy Best has teamed up with Linda Conti of Sandcastle Memoirs in South Yarmouth, MA to bring us his remarkable, triumphant story.

What Did I Think/Recommendation:

I read this book from cover to cover in one sitting! This is such an inspiring story! I really admire Billy’s faith, courage, and determination, but it was his faith that really stood out to me the most!  I hope this story inspires and encourages others to listen to their own intuition and fully trust that God will lead them to the answers that will work for their own situation, just as Billy did.

I also love that this is written in such a positive light…I’ve read/watched other books and documentaries on this topic, and they are not all presented in such a positive way. I think this story is going to help many people, and I’m so glad he chose to share it!

I would read this again, and I would recommend it to anyone who is interested in reading about alternative medicine success stories.

See more reviews on Goodreads.

 

 

Book and Movie Review: The Shack

Book and Movie Review:  The Shack

by William Paul Young

My Rating:  ***** (5 out of 5)

Why Did I Read/Watch?

This book and movie was recommended to me by a friend.  It had a great impact on her and her family, and she thought I would like it, too (she was right).

Summary (from Goodreads)

Mackenzie Allen Philips’ youngest daughter, Missy, has been abducted during a family vacation, and evidence that she may have been brutally murdered is found in an abandoned shack deep in the Oregon wilderness. Four years later in the midst of his “Great Sadness,” Mack receives a suspicious note, apparently from God, inviting him back to that shack for a weekend.

Against his better judgment he arrives at the shack on a wintry afternoon and walks back into his darkest nightmare. What he finds there will change Mack’s world forever.

In a world where religion seems to grow increasingly irrelevant The Shack wrestles with the timeless question, “Where is God in a world so filled with unspeakable pain?” The answers Mack gets will astound you and perhaps transform you as much as it did him. You’ll want everyone you know to read this book!

* book description from the back cover

What Did I Think/Recommendation

I LOVED this book!  It is filled with so much insight.  I love the author’s understanding of God, as it is very similar to my own.  This is probably the best book/movie I have encountered to date about the topic of forgiveness.  Forgiveness with yourself and with others is essential if you want to be at peace.  There really is nothing more important than that.

On a personal note, this book helped me to become more confident and comfortable in my own beliefs.  As I mentioned, the author’s understanding of God is very similar to my own, yet it is very different from the teachings I had been exposed to throughout my Catholic upbringing and in the Christian church(es) I have attended.  I had been struggling with this conflict for some time, but The Shack put me at peace with my beliefs and helped me to let go of the beliefs that others had planted in me.  God really does send us the answers to all of our questions and concerns in some of the most amazing ways!

I enjoyed both the book and the movie, but I would definitely recommend the book over the movie if you would like to get the full understanding of all the messages the author is trying to send.

Movie Trailer:

Favorite Quotes:

I have so many favorite quotes from the book, there are way too many to add them all here.  Here are a few:

“Love always leaves a mark.” ~Papa

“Don’t ever discount the wonder of your tears. They can be healing waters and a stream of joy. Sometimes they are the best words the heart can speak.”

“Just because I work incredible good out of unspeakable tragedies doesn’t mean I orchestrate the tragedies. Don’t ever assume that my using something means I caused it or that I need it to accomplish my purposes. That will only lead you to false notions about me. Grace doesn’t depend on suffering to exist, but where there is suffering you will find grace in many facets and colors.”

“All I want from you is to trust me with what little you can, and grow in loving people around you with the same love I share with you.  It’s not your job to change them, or to convince them.  You are free to love without an agenda.”

“Forgiveness is not about forgetting. It is about letting go of another person’s throat……Forgiveness does not create a relationship…Forgiveness in no way requires that you trust the one you forgive.”

“The people who know me are the ones who are free to live and love without any agenda.”

“You will grow in the freedom to be inside or outside all kinds of systems, and to move freely between and among them.  Together, you and I can be in it, and not of it.  Those who love me come from every system that exists.  They were Buddhists or Mormons, Baptists or Muslims, Democrats or Republicans, and many who don’t vote or are not part of any Sunday morning or religious institutions…I have no desire to make them Christian, but I do want to join them in their transformation into Sons and Daughters of my Papa, into my brothers and sisters, into my beloved.”

“So no, I’m not too big on religion…and not very fond of politics or economics either…And why should I be? They are the man-created trinity of terrors that ravages the earth and deceives those I care about. What mental turmoil and anxiety does any human face that is not related to one of those three?”

“It’s extremely hard to rescue someone unless they are willing to trust you.”

“It’s not the work, but the purpose that makes it special.”

“True love never forces.”

“So many believe that it is love that grows, but it is the knowing that grows and love simply expands to contain it.”

View more quotes from the book here.

Book Review: The Alchemist

Book Review: The Alchemist

by Paulo Coelho

My Rating: ***** (5 out of 5 stars)

Why Did I Read?

This book has been on my list of books to read for a while.  I recently heard it being compared to a great book that I just finished reading a few months ago, Life’s Golden Ticket.  I decided that was the sign I needed that it was time to read The Alchemist.

Summary (from Goodreads)

Paulo Coelho’s enchanting novel has inspired a devoted following around the world. This story, dazzling in its powerful simplicity and inspiring wisdom, is about an Andalusian shepherd boy named Santiago who travels from his homeland in Spain to the Egyptian desert in search of a treasure buried in the Pyramids. Along the way he meets a Gypsy woman, a man who calls himself king, and an alchemist, all of whom point Santiago in the direction of his quest. No one knows what the treasure is, or if Santiago will be able to surmount the obstacles along the way. But what starts out as a journey to find worldly goods turns into a discovery of the treasure found within. Lush, evocative, and deeply humane, the story of Santiago is an eternal testament to the transforming power of our dreams and the importance of listening to our hearts.

What Did I Think/Recommendation

This book is a fairly easy read, although it took me longer than I had expected to get through it.  I didn’t consider this book to be life-changing for me personally, but I did find it to be filled with much wisdom!  A few of the things this book teaches:

  • Each of us has our own destiny, or “personal legend”
  • Once you recognize that destiny and always follow your heart to pursue it, the universe will help you to achieve it.
  • The boy in the story travels a great distance in search of his treasure, but in the end, he finds it in the place where he started from.  Oftentimes, the things we are looking for are right there close to us right from the beginning.  We just need to stop and notice them more often, and take time to appreciate them.
  • Pay attention to your dreams…they are the language of God
  • Focus on the present moment, and you will be happy
  • We can learn so much from nature and the constant signs all around us…we just need to pay attention and let them lead us.

These are all good reminders that we can all use from time to time.

I would recommend this book to people who enjoy self-help books or those looking to find their purpose in life, and I would read this book again.

Favorite Quotes

To realize one’s destiny is a person’s only obligation…and, when you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it.

 

Dreams are the language of God. (p.12)

 

Because I don’t live in either my past or my future. I’m interested only in the present. If you can concentrate always on the present, you’ll be a happy man.

Book Review: A Long Way Home

Book Review: A Long Way Home

by Saroo Brierly

My Rating: ***** (5 out of 5 Stars)

Why Did I Read?

This book was recommended to me by a friend.  She had just finished reading it and offered to let me borrow it.  I enjoy reading memoirs occasionally, and this story just seemed so incredible that I couldn’t resist!

Summary (from Goodreads)

The miraculous and triumphant story of a young man who rediscovers not only his childhood life and home…but an identity long-since left behind.

At only five years old, Saroo Brierley got lost on a train in India. Unable to read or write or recall the name of his hometown or even his own last name, he survived alone for weeks on the rough streets of Calcutta before ultimately being transferred to an agency and adopted by a couple in Australia.

Despite his gratitude, Brierley always wondered about his origins. Eventually, with the advent of Google Earth, he had the opportunity to look for the needle in a haystack he once called home, and pore over satellite images for landmarks he might recognize or mathematical equations that might further narrow down the labyrinthine map of India. One day, after years of searching, he miraculously found what he was looking for and set off to find his family.

A Long Way Home is a moving, poignant, and inspirational true story of survival and triumph against incredible odds. It celebrates the importance of never letting go of what drives the human spirit: hope.

When Saroo Brierley used Google Earth to find his long-lost birthplace half a world away, his story made global headlines. That story is being published in several languages around the world and is currently being adapted into a major feature film. Brierley was born in Khandwa, Madhya Pradesh, India. He currently lives in Hobart, Tasmania.

What Did I Think/Recommendation

I loved this book!  It truly is an incredible story!  If I had to describe the story in one word, that word would be “miraculous.”  I felt like I was along for the entire journey with Saroo, and I felt so many different emotions along the way.  I continue to be amazed at the things he had to do to survive on his own at only 5 years old.  This story opened my eyes to a whole new world, so very different from the only life and culture I have ever truly been exposed to. When I got to the pictures in the middle of the book, tears of joy poured!  I am amazed by everything he had to go through, but just as Saroo says, there is no doubt in my mind that everything that happened was all meant be and everything was meant to turn out exactly as it did.  What an amazing story that has the ability to inspire and encourage others to never ever give up hope!

I would recommend this book to anyone interested in reading a miraculous story.  I have recommended it to my teenage daughters, although they have not read it yet.  The story has also been made into the movie, Lion.  (“Lion” is the meaning of Saroo’s birth name in Hindi.) I have not seen the movie yet, but I am looking forward to seeing it.  Here is the movie trailer:

My Favorite Quotes

My favorite quotes are from the last few lines in the book:

I feel strongly that from my being a little lost boy with no family to becoming a man with two, everything was meant to happen just the way it happened.  And I am profoundly humbled by that thought.

 

It is sometimes difficult not to imagine some forces at work that are beyond my understanding.

 

Book Review: Life’s Golden Ticket: A Story About Second Chances

Book Review: Life’s Golden Ticket: A Story About Second Chances

by Brendon Burchard

My Rating: ***** (5 out of 5 stars)

Why Did I Read?

I read this book because I got a promotional email from Brendon Burchard offering the book and some of his inspirational videos for only the cost of shipping the book ($5.00).  I enjoyed his other books, The Charge and The Millionaire Messenger, so I wanted to give this one a try, too! (Click on the book cover above to get your free copy for only the cost of shipping).

Summary (from Goodreads)

The classic inspirational parable from the top motivation and marketing trainer and #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Millionaire Messenger—a triumphant tale of personal growth and change that will inspire anyone who has ever wished for a second chance.

What if you were handed a golden ticket that could magically start your life anew?

That question is at the heart of Life’s Golden Ticket. Brendon Burchard tells the story of a man who is so trapped in the prison of his past that he cannot see the possibilities, the choices, and the gifts before him. To soothe his fiancée Mary, clinging to life in a hospital bed, the man takes the envelope she offers and heads to an old, abandoned amusement park that she begs him to visit.

To his surprise, when he steps through the rusted entrance gates, the park magically comes to life. Guided by the wise groundskeeper Henry, the man will encounter park employees, answer difficult questions, overcome obstacles, listen to lessons from those wiser than he, and take a hard look at himself.

At the end of his journey, the man opens Mary’s mysterious envelope. Inside is a golden ticket—the final phase in turning his tragic life’s story of loss and regret into a triumphant tale of love and redemption.

What Did I Think/Recommendation

I loved this book!  I was expecting this to be another non-fiction self-help book like Brendon Burchard’s other books (all of which I loved), but I was surprised when I began reading to find this was actually a story.  It was an easy read, and it held my interest throughout the entire book.  This book helps you to take a good look at your life and ask yourself if you are truly happy.  If you are not, it helps you to think about steps you can take to change that, to overcome your fears, and to let go of bitterness and other things from your past that may be keeping you from following your dreams.

I would recommend this book to anyone who is interested in personal growth.  There are many valuable life lessons taught all throughout the book.  Although I didn’t consider this book to be life-changing for me, I think it could be life-changing for so many people!

Here are a few takeaways I got from this book:

  • Think before you speak. Words can hurt FOREVER!
  • If you are the recipient of harsh words, don’t take it personally. Recognize that it has nothing to do with you and is just a result of the hurt inside of the other person. Hurt people hurt people. Recognize that and don’t ever take anyone else’s harsh words personally.
  • Recognize that everyone does and says what they do for a reason. We are all just doing our best. Don’t judge

Favorite Quote(s)

The miracle makers in this world are the people who live by choice and live to contribute. (p.181)

 

Though you cannot recall it ever happening, a spell has been cast upon you, and it has mesmerized you into believing that you are not good enough and that there is something wrong with you.  This spell is Society’s Spell, and it has made you secretly feel inadequate, ugly, weak, slow, small, useless, and helpless for far too long.  Tonight we break that spell. (p.35)

Book Review: What on Earth am I Here For?

Book Review:  What on Earth am I Here For?

by Rick Warren

My Rating: **** (4 out of 5 stars)

Why Did I Read?

I read this 63-page booklet because our church was giving them away.  I read The Purpose Driven Life many years ago, also by Rick Warren, and I loved that one so I thought I would read this, too.

Summary (from the back of the book)

You can live the life you were meant to live.

This small booklet answers life’s three biggest questions:

The Question of Existence:  Why am I alive?

The Question of Significance: Does my life matter?

The Question of Purpose: What on earth am I here for?

Knowing your purpose in life will:

  • Give your life meaning
  • Simplify your life
  • Focus your life
  • Increase your motivation
  • Prepare you for eternity

Discover the principles that have transformed millions of lives around the world.  Excerpted from The Purpose Driven Life: “The bestselling non-fiction hardback in history.” – Publishers Weekly

What Did I Think/Recommendation:

I loved Rick Warren’s book, The Purpose Driven Life.  This booklet seemed to be a condensed version of The Purpose Driven Life.

I love that this booklet is a very quick and easy read at only 63 pages.  It is filled with lots of wisdom and ideas, but I could not give this 5 stars because I was really turned off by the line on the first page, written in bold: “you won’t discover your life’s meaning by looking within yourself.” Honestly, I stopped right there and put the book away for a few weeks before I decided to continue on with it. As the author of a book about self-love and someone who did find God and my life’s purpose by looking within myself, it was hard for me to get past that line. I believe there are as many paths to God as there are people, and it is a turnoff to me when someone thinks that their way is the only right way. I’m glad I did eventually pick the book back up and continue with it because there is a lot of good content in the book. I certainly don’t agree with everything he says, but the parts that I do agree with and accept as truth are very comforting.  Regardless of your beliefs, it does make you think about life.