Friday, June 17, 2011

The Collectibles - James J Kaufman

Summary:  Two men...one promise...six lives changed forever...

"Do what the other fella can't.  Be what the other fella ain't.  And then help the other fella."  Joe Hart has never let go of his uncle's words.  An orphan from the unspoiled Adirondack mountains, Joe leaves his humble beginnings and goes on to distinguish himself, first as a Navy submarine commander, then as an attorney unequaled in his field.  But Joe's world crashes with an unexpected tragedy.

A child of wealth and privilege from New York's Upper East Side, Preston Wilson harbors a fear of financial failure.  When that fear threatens to become reality, Preston tracks down the one attorney who might be able to save him.  Joe reluctantly decides to help--but only after extracting a promise that Preston will fulfill an unspecified condition when called upon.  Preston, desperate, agrees.

Too soon, Joe calls his unconventional IOU.  The self-absorbed Preston balks when Joe tells him he must meet, earn the trust of and care for several people.  Each of Joe's "collectibles"--none of whom Preston would ever want to know--has a serious personal challenge.  Can Preston find the integrity to make good on his promise to Joe?  Does he have a choice?  (Summary from back of the book and image from goodreads.com.  This book was given free for review.)

My Review:  Lately I've been declining most book review offers.  Work, my children, my life in general has been too stressful to add another book to my plate that I wasn't either dying to read or that I could count on to relax me at the end of a long day.  However, when I read the synopsis of The Collectibles there was something about the idea of a man having a positive influence on the lives of six people that lured me in.  I bit, and I'm definitely glad I did.

Kaufman builds characters that are flawed and real, but he also builds them to grow on you.  Many of the characters in this story have some issues, but there is the one tie and that is Joe Hart.  I've met people like Joe Hart: a little piece of heaven walking around on earth reminding us to be better, to work harder, to become something greater.  They're very few and far between, but they do exist.  I reckon there are probably people who would venture to say this book is far-fetched based on Joe's character, but I would disagree.  I lost one of these walking-angels just last year.  And she was lost quite suddenly just like Joe.  We can't take for granted those special few who make such a lasting impression simply by living a higher law and showing integrity past the point most of us conceptualize.

While there are a few rough edges to the writing (not many, but a few) the overall theme of the book and the storyline itself were comforting and heart-warming.  I'm not sure I'd recommend it to my mother because it does contain some swearing -- nothing on the level of the f-bomb, but swearing nonetheless. However, the language rings true to the situations in which its used -- army buddies seem to slip into this kind of vernacular without realizing it.  I think this is actually a book aimed at a male audience.  Not that a female audience couldn't enjoy it, but I'm fairly sure men of my father's generation would eat this up.  I think this would be a fantastic Father's Day gift or present for that hard-to-buy-for Dad or Father-in-law.

Rating: 4.5 stars 

For the sensitive reader: Some sections with milder swearing, but this is an adult book; read at your own discretion.

Sum it up:  A beautifully written story about an influential man and those he touched.

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