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I now make my home in Plano, Texas. My birth in southern California in 1958, was followed over the next five years by my three brothers. During that time, the country was undergoing a significant change from post war innocence into the turbulent late 60's. My incredible wife, Michelle, married me 31 years ago and still tolerates me. We have a single daughter living away from home, and my mom now lives with us since the death of my father two years ago.
I have always loved reading, and have read across all genres, and will give up on a book after the first five or ten pages if it isn’t compelling enough. In high school, and college, my English and writing teachers prodded me to be a writer, but I would just laugh at how entertaining the idea was of spending all of that time doing anything. After all, I was cranking through most books in one week, and couldn’t even fathom the idea of spending a year or more on writing a book. Oh, sure, I would often fantasize about writing. With my writing abilities, imagination and expansive memory of things long past, it would be a breeze, right? Wrong. Like a high diver, I was standing on the edge and looking down at the water far below, but I couldn’t (or wouldn’t) take the leap. I had a comfortable life, and, it was remarkably easy to tell myself, “I don’t have the time”. Unfortunately, the older I got, the easier it was to convince myself that I didn’t have the time.
Now fast forward to April of 1998. It is Good Friday, and my Dad has just passed away after a long illness. The next few weeks were a blur as my Dad's remains flew to Indiana, and we drove up for the funeral. At the viewing, we were tremendously pleased to see family we haven’t seen in 10, 20, and 30 years. Before long, my three brothers and I started to identify a common theme to all the conversations with us; how “we boys” were little monsters, and how all of our close calls with death—and that we survived, were miraculous. Later that day, my next-to-me-in-age brother, Gerald, told me that based on all of the enthusiasm and interest in our family at the viewing about our younger-selves stories, I should write a book about our family. I laughed it off. We drove back to Texas, and I forgot about my brother’s request. Over the next few months, Gerald would call me and say I should write the book. In the first week of August, Gerald called me, and his cheerful mood was missing. In its place was a truly serious mood. He was not going to let me get out of it any longer. He was making some compelling arguments about wanting (needing) to tell our story, so that others could believe that even when people despair, they always have hope; that even when life seems hopeless and depressing, the grace of God can change it around, where redemption can occur. I started on the outline of the book that night, and within a week had started interviewing my Mom and brothers to start building the stories. My only regret is that my Dad wasn’t around to contribute to the book, and see the result.
Kenneth J Kerr
on May 27, 2014 :
Fascinating story about a family of four boys growing up in Southern California in the early sixties. The oldest boy, Mike, is the main character, and the story follows his life from 1961, when he is just over three to 1965, when he is seven. Mike has an evil personality, and is repeatedly getting into trouble, poison is younger brother, Jerry, and continually doing evil, hurtful things to his younger brother, showing little or no remorse.
The author uses an unusual writing style where the story is narrated in the first person by people who initially refer to themselves as "we" and later as "the watchers". They seem to be just observers, however, the final chapter brings light to the relationship between 'the watchers" and the family.
Michael Barnett has written an interesting story about a family of boys growing up in California in the sixties. He develops the scenes in the book with incredible detail, using all the senses to describe all the characters and the settings. Although this is not the genre I would normally read, I have no problem recommending this book to others.
(reviewed within a month of purchase)