A while back I was contacted by a nice lady named Lisa from TLC Book Tours and asked if I would like to take part in a virtual book tour review-type … thing-y. Well, about the only thing I like to do more than read is to boss people around with my opinion, so this seemed like a perfect thing for me!
The book I was given to review is Zig-Zagging; Loving Madly, Losing Badly … How Ziggy Saved My Life, by Tom Wilson Jr. Tom Wilson Sr. is the originator of Ziggy the cartoon character, and that character and franchise was ultimately (and lovingly) taken over by his son, the author of this book. In a nutshell, the book entails Tom Jr’s life-long relationship with the fictional, lovable Ziggy, and how that relationship perspective played into the difficulties he has encountered --- mainly, his father’s declining health and the death of his beloved wife, Susan.
One on hand, the book is a straight-forward chronological tale, beginning with the creation of Ziggy during the author’s youth, and moving through the author’s adult life when he took over responsibility for Ziggy when his father was no longer able to do so due to illness, through his wife’s illness, and then through the author’s own battle with depression following her death at age 44.
The metaphor (analogy? I always get them confused) for the book is the drive the author takes twice a month getting from work to home and back along Interstate 71, between Cleveland and Cincinnati, and how that drive is like the journey of his life, with unexpected detours and obstacles and surprise destinations.
Straight from the book jacket: “Our lives aren’t composed like a headstone with a straight line that marks the date of the first breath we take to the last; the journey we’re on is really a zigzagging series of unexpected detours. Every detour is a destination unto itself, and regardless of our plans, it’s what we don’t see coming that often affects us the most ….”
I felt like this book was actually two parts. One, the personal story of the author and the challenges he has faced. Two, his philosophical take on life, love, and loss, and how we all need to learn to appreciate the journey, no matter the route.
What I liked about this book:
My favorite part of the book was the half that comprised his personal memoir. Dealing with a spouse myself who has cancer, I was very interested in hearing about their situation and struggle. I appreciated the obvious love and respect the author has for his family (and even for Ziggy) and felt his love for his father, and then for his wife and two sons, spoke clearly from the pages. I enjoyed the author’s self-deprecating sense of humor, and his willingness to admit that he didn’t always handle things, or appreciate things, or deal with things, the way he should. He was able to poke fun at himself and highlight his own shortcomings without ever playing the sympathy card. Reading about his life, I enjoyed.
What I didn’t like about this book:
There wasn’t anything I officially “didn’t” like, it’s just that I liked certain parts better than others. I was more interested in hearing his first-person narrative of the story of his own life, than in hearing his first-person ponderings and philosophical musings (does that even make sense?) I found the highway-journey-of-life analogy valid, but it didn't hold my interest as much as more details about the author’s life would have. Maybe I'm ultimately nosy, but the part of the story I liked most was getting to "know" the author himself -- a likeable guy who it was easy to care about. Whenever the writing would veer off the "regular" journey, I found myself eager to get back to his personal story.
Would I recommend the book? Yes, I think anyone who enjoys inspirational messages would find something to like about this book. Anyone dealing with loss or grief or simply life's unexpected challenges would most likely find something helpful in what he has written and shared.
And in the meantime, my thanks to Tom Wilson Jr for being willing to open up parts of his life and story with the rest of us.
PS. I feel compelled to urge you to visit TLC Book Tours for more information about this book and author. There is a list of other Ziggy reviewers (who are all, hands down, WAAAAAYYY more intelligent and articulate than me) and a link to a free give-away of the book. But my desktop is out of pocket this evening and therefore I'm typing this on my laptop with no saved links or photos or e-mail addresses so quite frankly, its a damn miracle I even got the plain-vanilla review finished and put out here, let alone any of the special stuff. (Guess I just blew any chances of being asked to review for this site again right out of the water, didn't I?)