Sunday, May 31, 2009

Book Review: Do-Over! by Robin Hemley

Do-Over! by Robin Hemley

Published by Little, Brown and Company , a division of Hachette Book Group

Rating: 4.5 stars

This book is about precisely what its sub-titles states: "In which a forty-eight-year-old father of three returns to kindergarten, summer camp, the prom, and other embarrassments". Robin Hemley decides to re-visit his past of embarassing and shameful moments so that he can 're-do' them all over again with the additional benefit of perspective and wisdom from decades of life experience. Given the strange nature of his adventures, (what other kindergarten student has their wife pick them up from school?) Robin receives some interesting feedback from his fellow classmates, campers, and teachers. Thankfully though, for the most part Robin is supported in his quest and given ample opportunity to improve upon his past 'failures'.

I think that what initially started out as a unique opportunity for Robin's self-exploration and journey to his past, transformed into an experience that has proved insightful to many others as well. Though this book is focused on Robin's past, it can easily be translated to anyone with regrets or those who wonder what would happen if they could 're-do' a past experience. The book's idea and writing style, along with witty humor, reminded me a lot of A. J. Jacobs' work, including The Year of Living Biblically, which was a plus for me.

I only wish that each chapter could have been a little longer so that I could have read more about each experience. In particular, my favorite do-over by far, the kindergarten chapter seemed to go by too quickly. I longed to hear more of the dialogue exchanged between Robin and the children, who seemed to conclude that Robin had a 'bad time' when he was a kid and he wanted to back so he could have a 'better time'.

Though not many would jump at the chance to re-do experiences that humiliated them in the past, there is a fascination with someone who would have the courage to do so and share his experiences with everyone (photographs included!). It is often other people's reactions to Robin's endeavor that were most interesting to me and were also able to elicit the most laughter.

The underlying self-deprecative attitude translates into a humorous book where a grown-man can poke fun at himself while re-living past embarassments and come out a little wiser and insightful than he started out in the beginning. Do-Over! is not only a hilarious journey of flashbacks and re-dos, but also insightful in its implications and I certainly enjoyed accompanying Robin on his trip down memory lane.

BIG THANKS to Anna and Hachette Book Group for my review copy


Belle said...

This one is on my tbr list, too. It sounds like a fun read and I find the premise very intriguing.

Becca said...

I sometimes wish I could have a do-over myself. I think, how might my life have turned out if I had only done this or said that or went this way instead of over there. We'll never find out so it is interesting to see someone writing a book on doing just that.

A Reader said...

I agree with your review -- very insightful and funny at the same time. If you'd like to check out my review I've posted it here