Review: Accidental Lessons

Accidental Lessons
By David W. Berner
Strategic Book Publishing
February 2009
174pp

Here’s the blurb from the publisher:

Berner had it all – a very successful career as a broadcast journalist and a wonderful family life. But his career hits a bump and he finds himself out of work. Life then delivers more trouble – his father becomes terminally ill and his marriage falls apart. In the middle of painful personal times, this respected journalist makes a decision that changes his life forever.

Berner takes a job in a public school outside Chicago where the students are representations of society’s “throw-aways.” What he learns from them teaches him invaluable lessons about himself, who he is, and why he became a journalist in the first place – to seek out the truth and give voice to those who need their story told.

The Short of It:

A positive, uplifting story. Crisply written, this one can be read in one sitting. You won’t want to put it down.

The Rest of It:

I can be a bit critical of memoirs. Many are overly done and poorly written. Not the case here. Berner presents his story in a positive, upbeat way without sugar-coating his personal downfalls. There’s a nice balance between his professional and personal life. Berner’s writing is tight and crisp…clean in a way. As I was reading, I could clearly hear his voice and his passion for teaching was evident. It’s very inspiring. Educators, journalists, mothers and fathers…this is a book that anyone can enjoy.

To read more about the author, click here to visit his website.

To listen to the author read a passage from Accidental Lessons, click here. He has a great voice but be warned, there is some graphic language so turn your speakers down a bit.

Source: This book was sent to me by the author, David W. Berner.

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20 thoughts on “Review: Accidental Lessons”

  1. You are quite right, memoirs are a dime a dozen, and many of them just go on and on about all the bad things that have happened to them. It gets old! Talented is the writer that can raise you up despite all the crap. I loved The Glass Castle, and am enoying Mary Karr’s The Liar’s Club. I’ll write this one down…it sounds like this is one of the good ones.

  2. I actually enjoy (some) memoirs and this sounds like one that I will definitely have to read. My hope would be his experience in teaching will enhance my personal teaching.

  3. I can see how a book like this could be too positive, but from your review, it sounds like the author finds a good balance between reality and optimism. I am glad you enjoyed this one, Ti. Great review.

  4. I was reading the synopsis and, not realizing this was a memoir, thinking “really, you’re going to throw all that disaster into the story?” Sounds like a wonderful read!

  5. i’m a fan of the memoir genre, but what sometimes irks me is people in ‘successful’ or ‘lucrative’ careers who have a change of life or heart and come on down to ‘slum it’ (or bring change to the system!) as an educator.

    i wanted to teach from time i was 5 years old. i never realized just how many people look down on the profession until i started teaching. the ‘oh, you’re a teacher’ and the withering ‘you get such a long summer vacation’ comments get old fast.

    i work in a private school and our day starts at 8:25am and ends at 4:50. i’m there in an adminstrator capacity until 6pm each day. today i had to work late–had a ton to do–and stayed until 8:30pm and now have grading and prep to do for my 6 classes tomorrow–i had off for christmas eve and christmas day only.

    sorry to rant…i’m sure this is a great read but just want people to know that teaching isn’t a fall-back career or a job to take if things aren’t going well in corporate america. it’s a huge investment of yourself, your compassion, your love, time, energy, patience, and sanity. 🙂 and i LOVE it.

    1. I totally agree. I am not a teacher by profession but I work for a university as an instructional designer / tech writer and from what I’ve seen, teachers are not made. They are born with the talent to teach. In this particular story, Mr. Berner does sort of use the job as a way to finish his schooling, but in the end, it’s teaching that he loves and it’s what he still does today, albeit at the college level.

      I have such an admiration for teachers. It’s a job that never stops. I am so grateful for the wonderful teachers that are out there and that includes you!

      Ti

  6. I’m pretty sure the author asked me to review this but I never got a copy … I hope it comes sometime. I’m a big fan of memoirs and the fact that this sounds well done makes me salivate a little. Great review.

  7. Oh, I think I would definitely enjoy this memoir. Like you, I’m not a huge fan of memoirs, but I would make time to read this one. I also like the fact that its under 200 pages. This would make a great gift for my friend who is a teacher. I’m so glad I didn’t miss this review. Thanks Ti!

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