The Monday Book: A CHANCE IN THE WORLD by Steve Pemberton

Janelle Bailey comes through once again, folks, as yours truly wrests with an index and a deadline for final edits to the latest book. Look for MASKS MISINFORMATION AND MAKING DO out from Ohio University press next month. Meanwhile, please enjoy Janelle’s review of the non-fiction work A Chance in the World: An Orphan Boy, a Mysterious Past, and How He Found a Place Called Home by Steve Pemberton.

This is a wonderfully written and TRUE story of hope and love and family as told by one who had to work so much of his life to find those basic needs met in his own life. Steve Klakowicz was orphaned at a very young age and sent into the foster care system to two families–one short-term and then one very long-term–who did not truly “care” for him as they were charged or as he needed.

Thank goodness for others in his life–teachers, neighbors, kind strangers–he never stopped believing in the value of his own life or believed those families’ assertions that his life mattered not at all. Of course I am especially pleased with Mrs. Levin giving him early on the gift of books and the love of reading, of seeing him and believing in him all along, while not even knowing until much, much–years and years–later (after this book was written and published) how significant her impact on Steve Pemberton’s life.

Pemberton’s quest throughout much of the book to put together his own life story, fill in the gaps of his parents and family is heart-wrenching but completely heart-warming at the same time, as he truly had built a life for himself despite what others who should have never did for him. Somehow he gained faith and hope and love and compassion while never having had it modeled well for him. He could have become angry, bitter, distant…and instead became the best father his three children could have ever hoped for. At age 6, his eldest son asks him, “When you were a little boy, did you have a daddy?” And it seems that that might be the start of THIS story, rather than its end, for while Pemberton did not, ever, have a daddy as a young boy, he became a tremendous one. And while none of the men who stepped in when Pemberton needed them to were his “daddy” but moreso “fathers” when he absolutely needed one, Pemberton figured out what a good daddy would do and be…and has been that for his children.

This is just my first read of this book, and I am very excited to be taking the reading of it “on the road” with a community book study, as it is our high school’s “one book, one school” read these next couple of months, and I am excited to bring Pemberton’s story into the hearts and minds of others who will gain from learning about him.

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