Phenomenal ~ Review by Beryl StaffordI was instantly drawn into this story by the narrators engaging tone. It felt like a stranger was telling me a story in a bar, and I lost myself in these pages. The story of Nick's youth, and his lost love, and how that experience inspired him to find wealth is absolutely compelling, and I found myself reading well into the night despite having work the next day. No mean task, as I value sleep very highly! The second part was a much more intense, and emotional journey through redemption, love and tragedy for both Nick and the little girl he rescues. In all, this book took me right up and down the scale of emotions, and I felt I'd walked a journey in Nick's shoes by the end. Phenomenal.
Excerpt from Chapter One
My First True Love
You may remember me. I'm Nick White, the man who saved the life of the little girl who was trapped under the wreckage of her home when Hurricane Sandy hit.
I never believed in miracles before I met that little girl and the woman she introduced me to, but after that next summer with all its love, joy, tragedy and miracles, I changed my mind about a lot of things in life...
--But to really understand how I fell in love after that terrible storm, you have to know what drove me from being a fat, poor Italian kid to a very rich man...
I was born in Beloit, a little town in Wisconsin, and my parents were Italian immigrants. But my father worked hard, went to night school while he worked as a bartender, and eventually became a cop.
My brother Franco was a good looking, nationally ranked tennis player in high school, and my father took him everywhere to show him off...
But I was a plump little kid and my ears stuck out. (It took me years to look normal by putting a little piece of double sided tape behind each ear and pressing my thumb hard against each one before I went to school every day. Eventually, about when I was in high school, both ears flattened out and I didn't have to use the tape anymore.)
I was also very withdrawn even as a kid, the bookish sort who lived in his own fantasy world of comic books and super heroes, got the best grades in my class, and didn't really like to socialize, especially with my father.
As I grew up, I lost a lot of weight, started working out, and eventually became starting quarterback for our high school football team and first man on our tennis team--so the plump little kid with the big ears was gone and I became a popular jock.
My Italian mother was very religious, went to church every Sunday, and constantly reminded me and Franco about the rewards of love and decency over greed and violence.
I patiently listened to my mother's lectures day after day, month after month, until one night my father was shot and killed trying to stop a robber who was never caught...
Then I stopped listening.
But now that I look back, I realize that my mother was about as close to a saint a you can get. After my father was killed, it wasn't easy living on a small pension, but she was always upbeat, encouraged Franco and me in everything we did, and never complained about anything.
And as I grow older and see all the greed, corruption and violence in the world, my mother's quiet voice still lingers behind the walls of my rich man's world like a flickering candle, and deep within me at times when I'm about to avoid doing something decent because it will inconvenience me, I remember my mother's voice, stop myself and perform a simple act of kindness or charity--despite the fact that it might cost me a few dollars or take valuable time away from my own perfect little world.
A few years after my father was shot, my mother had a double mastectomy, but they didn't get it all and a few months later the cancer spread and she died.
After my mother passed away, I went on to the University of Wisconsin in Madison for my bachelors and masters degrees in English Literature, and that's when I met my first true love...
Since I had very little money, I rented an efficiency apartment just off campus, took out a student loan, and got a job as manager of the student union Rathskeller-- a sprawling, picturesque German beer hall with simple tables, a beautiful ceiling with vaulted wooden arches and a great Old World atmosphere very unlike the modern decor you'll find in most other college student centers.
I got this plum job mainly because of my high grade point average and the fact that the man who hired me was Joseph Palmieri, a distant relative who was--lucky break for me--from South Beloit, Illinois.
Anyway, one day during the noontime rush, somewhere in the middle of the Rathskeller some guy started screaming at this girl. I turned to one of my assistants--
"Jack, call security!"
I forced my way through the lunch crowd and across the Rathskeller to see what the problem was-
The guy was still yelling at the girl at the top of his lungs when I reached the table.
"I'm telling you, I will--I really will!"
He was a scrawny, geeky looking kid with a goatee, so I figured right away that unless he knew karate or some other miracle, I wouldn't have much trouble handling him if he got out of control before security arrived.
"Hey, hey, buddy--calm down!"
He turned on me like a tall, scrawny snake--
"Who the hell are you? Mind your own business!!"
"I'm the manager.. Security's on the way and unless you want to be arrested and dragged away in handcuffs, you'd better calm down, right now--got it?"
The mention of security guards and being arrested was like I slapped him across the face--he immediately clammed up, picked his books up off the table with one more nasty look at the girl, who was in tears, and stormed off for the nearest exit.
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