There seems to be a part of us that sees our parents in us. We either see their strengths or weaknesses. It is not enough that we are just trying to e There seems to be a part of us that sees our parents in us. We either see their strengths or weaknesses. It is not enough that we are just trying to escape our past, but we are trying to escape our parents’ pasts as well (p75).
Written in a voice so honest and rich that to truly appreciate what is being offered one must experience it, Jack Gunthridge’s Life: An Autobiography As Told By Jack Gunthridge is a modern literary masterpiece. Presented in narrative form, this work reads like having a conversation over coffee with a close friend. Gunthridge invites his reader’s into a time of life when transitions rage as quickly and ferociously as adolescent hormones.
Jack and Christine are linked from birth. In fact, Christine claims she owes her existence to Jack. If it were not for his parents conceiving a child, her competitive father would not have followed suit. Unfortunately for Christine, she is not born a boy, and an early rejection from her father begins an intensely intriguing journey with the opposite sex that contributes to the pain and joy of Jack’s heart.
Interestingly enough, Jack also experiences rejection from his own father, but the rejection is involuntary and arrives in the news that his father is killed by a drunk driver. Gunthridge recalls, “The facts are this. I was about to lose my virginity, when I lost my father instead . . . My father was actually killed by the impact of Lee’s car hitting his. His car then burst into flames. The tragedy of this is that the one thing that my father did not want in life was to be cremated.” (p 23).
From their young days playing house to becoming heads of their own households while still in their teenage years, Jack and Christine’s lives are linked, and Christine quickly becomes the love of his life. There is no doubt of his love for Christine, and he bluntly exposes his feelings for her to his readers, taking them by the hand into the heart and soul of the unrequited lover beginning at the age of six.
Unlike so many works where one reads only one version from one voice, even when recounting the voices of others, Gunthridge invites the important players in this journey to add their particular views of his recollections. With equal honesty, we get to know Jack not only from his heart and from the desire of his heart, but also from his best friend Arthur and from Melinda, who loves him as much as he loves Christine and loves him enough to let him be with his happiness.
Much more than simply a story of adolescence, Gunthridge writes in a voice reminiscent of J.D. Salinger. His accounts cross the generation line. If you have ever loved, you will be touched by this work. He crosses the act of love with the past, present and future bringing forth unexpected emotional involvement with his words, ideas and philosophies. He reminds readers why we love in the first place, why we consider the meaning of life, and later, why we examine the meaning of our own existence.
For such powerfully touching words to come from such a young voice is extraordinary. This is not a simple memoir from a high school student, the mere fulfillment of an assignment, another reflection of teenage alienation and loss of innocence. This is a declaration of love for all time, not only for another, but in the end, for one’s self. The ultimate love comes from the self and is expressed only when one is ready for more than passion. It is, as Gunthridge writes, “not a question of love or desire. I am looking at the commitment and how to keep it” (p 92).
This work can easily be read alone or on a Saturday afternoon with the one you love. It can be shared between and across the generations. This is a thinking and feeling work, not casual entertainment between a front and back cover. If you're looking for made for TV level entertainment, you will be disappointed.
Gunthridge has given us one of those novels that you pass on to those you care for in your life. His work is an opportunity to experience now what will later be considered a classic. Read Gunthridge’s Life and get a taste of profound writing in its youth and prime, poised to be as influential on the future of literature as the writer himself.
Jacqueline Aguilera, MLA Professional Reviewer Authors Den Adult Education Instructor & Training Coordinator Financial Literacy Educator/Coordinator...more