A book reaches out and grabs me, entertains me, teaches me and when it is done with me, leaves me a better person. When those rare moments are gifted to me, it would be unfair for me not to pass on the experience to others…
This week I was privileged to review Steven Manchester’s newest novel “Goodnight Brian”.
Maybe it was the location; it takes place in Rhode Island and I am from New England. Maybe it was because the story was centered on a very traditional Italian family and I come from one. Maybe it is because it shares a Grandmother’s unconditional love for her special needs Grandson and how her Faith in God fueled her will and tenacity never to give up on him.
This book immerses you in family; the good and the sometimes bad, but also delivers the heartbreak a devestating medical diagnosis can render. Manchester manages to make the reader a part of the story. He sets a place for me at the Sunday family dinners. I smelled the aroma of the Red Gravy simmering on the stove, Meatballs and Manicotti prepared with the love only a Nonna or Mama can do. I walked along the streets of the North End of Boston (which I have done all my life), and relived my own family memories, seen now through another’s eyes. In her mind’s adventures, Mama Angela took me to Italy, the streets of Tuscany and the glorious countryside which I have yet to experience but which has always been a lifelong dream for me. It reinforced my passion and determination to get there one day.
More importantly than all that, was the story within. The story of Brian. The sweet infant who is handed a life sentence of pain and anguish. But despite his rough beginning and the label of “never being normal”; the unwavering perseverance of his Grandmother shines through. This story is told over almost two decades, but flows so smoothly, the years seem to fly by. The reminder that everyone has their own infinite potential should be something obvious, but receiving this lesson through Brian’s obstacles and achievements serve an important reminder for all of us to never give up on ourselves.
If you are looking for a quick read which serves up some inspiration, courage and faith, give this novel a try. It promises not to disappoint. Bring the kleenex, you may need some!