Looking back at your life and many of the rites of passage in it, there are probably things you'd change. Things that didn't quite happen as planned, things that make you wince when you remember them, and things that you didn't do and wish you had in hindsight. And that's why the idea of Robin Hemley's Do-Over: In which a forty-eight-year-old father of three returns to kindergarten, summer camp, the prom, and other embarrassments is so incredibly appealing. Most of us have experienced the "If only" or "I wish" and even the "I should have" when thinking back on different times in our lives. Hemley actually set out to "do-over" those things that niggled at him in that way.
Each chapter takes a certain event or period of time in his life that he wanted to revisit, not in the impossible task of replacing his memories with something different but to try and experience them in a different, positive way. There is a lot of humor in this book (imagine a 48 year old man re-doing kindergarten or going to the prom) but there's a lot of honest introspection too. Obviously Hemley's life wasn't completely consumed by these events as his adult life continued on even as he worked on his project. But being older certainly gave him a different perspective on each stage as he faced it. He was able to face the class bully with equanimity. He looked with amuseument on the stress of SAT preparation (something few if any high school juniors can do). And yet he learned a lot from re-experiencing these events, both about himself and about the world that his daughters live in now. Much of what he did gave him great insight into his own family and into his parenting, a truly valuable lesson. In initially not being able to let go of his own past mistakes or embarrassments, Hemley has crafted a witty, entertaining, and well-written memoir that was a delight to read. It also begs the question, what in your life would you like to do-over?
I currently have a giveaway going on for 5 copies of this book. To read the rules and enter, check out my Cinco de Mayo giveaway.
And unfortunately not Do-Over, but for a giveaway for my international readers, look at the International Giveaway for a chance to win one of two books.