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Second Chances by T. A. Webb

I haven't done many narrative book reviews because to be honest, I always agonize over how to organize my thoughts so I capture all the feelings I have and cover all the points I want to make. I would never make it as a professional reviewer so I'll happily leave that to others who have those talents and skills. My hat is off to them.

What usually happens is I just write out some rambling thoughts that just occur to me when I think about the story. I'm going to do the same here. Let me say at the start that this particular book by Tom Webb gets 5 stars from me. I read this book right after it was published and I still think about it. It's almost like the characters have somehow become personal friends of mine and as strange as it might sound to say this about fictional characters, I still care for them. This particular book is one I'm sure I'll be rereading more than once. It's that good.

Since I'm horrible about summarizing plots, I've cheated and copied the blurb (presumably written by the author or the publisher):

Mark Jennings is at a crossroads. His finance job in the Atlanta nonprofit scene stresses him out, his mother is dying, and his relationship with Brian Jacobs has crashed and burned. He needs a distraction, some way to relax, and a massage seems like just the thing. He never expected his massage therapist, Antonio Roberto, to become his best friend.

Despite their differences—Antonio is a divorced single father—the two men forge a firm friendship that weathers Mark’s reconciliation with Brian and Antonio’s questionable taste in women. Over the years, Antonio remains constant in his support, though others in Mark’s life come and go through a revolving door.
When a young boy runs away from the group home where he works, Mark finds another door opening. Through it all he holds on to the things his loved ones taught him—about family, about friends and lovers, about life and death. Most importantly, he realizes that sometimes the greatest gift of all is a second chance.
 Okay. Fasten your seat belts and get ready for this unconventional review. Here goes:

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I swear to God I have NEVER, ever read anything as powerful and meaningful and moving as this! I'm reading along enjoying the story, then -- all of a sudden -- there's this sentence or paragraph or scene that reaches out and grabs my heart and makes the story shift into something really powerful that changes everything.

Or opens my eyes to something I didn't see coming or something I didn't think about. And makes me care for and love these guys. And, most amazingly of all, somehow changes me inside and makes me care about life on a deeper level.

There didn't seem to be any minor characters (well, the asshole who was using Robbie... and maybe those sibs of Mark ... except for Sister Mary Vagina!! LOL). I mean there wasn't a single character or a single scene... or a single page, or paragraph, or sentence that was wasted.

It's funny because in a lot of books (I'm talking about the worthwhile ones), I usually get emotionally attached to at least the MCs, but it seemed like every single character was a major character, including the mother who's not even there but seems to haunt every single page.

And the Dad... I LOVE THAT MAN! In my eyes, he's what being a man is all about. Talk about stepping up to the plate!

And Robbie and Jason? I DEMAND to know more about these two kids! Hear me, Tom?! I'm waiting! ;-)

You know, there's this thing about fictional characters that always interests me. I know they're creations of the author's imagination, but I always know I'm reading a special book when I start caring for them as if they were people in my real life! And I ended up loving every one of them!

So how did I do emotionally with this story? I went through so many emotions it's not funny. One minute I found myself laughing at the humor in the story. Then a few pages later I suddenly realized I was crying. There aren't too many things I read that grip my heart like this one. And even though I realized I was crying a number of times, there's not one single thing that's "sentimental" about the story. It all rang true and honest.

Sometimes I'm in the mood to read something that's pure escape... something that will carry me away from my real life. This book did just the opposite. It carried me toward my real life. Pointed me in the direction of the kind of person I want to be by showing me people who are fully awake to all the possibilities of life and all the possibilities of love and all the possibilities of second chances.

So now I now want to tell you, Tom, "Thank you." Thank you for telling this story. Second chances in life are powerful things. And right now I feel more alive and hopeful after getting to meet your guys. But I think the best thing of all is getting a glimpse into that big heart of yours. What a gift.

So thank you, Tom, for speaking to my heart and making me a better person as a human being. And that is about the highest praise I can give an author.

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