About My Book Reviews

Friday, September 21, 2018

Adventures in Darkness by Tom Sullivan

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Title: Adventures in Darkness

Author: Tom Sullivan

Published: 1981

Genre: Memoir

Grade Level: Adult

-Trigger Warning: Domestic Violence

-Movie Rating: PG-13 for bulling and domestic violence

-Features: Physical Disability (blindness)

Blurb (from the dust jacket):
Tears ran full force from eleven-year-old Tommy’s sightless eyes. 

“I promise you, you see more than every kid in this neighborhood. We just have to make them understand,” his father said.

Author and renowned entertainer, Tom Sullivan, can still hear the tune of “blindey—blindey—blindey” that was sung to him through the backyard fence during the summer of 1959. But no one could stop roguish Tom from breaking free of the traditional restrictions of his darkness.

Adventures in Darkness is a timeless memoir that reads like fiction. It is alive with the brilliant detail of the sounds, the scents, the tastes, the feelings, and the thoughts of the Tom’s eleventh year in 1950’s New England—the year he “made them understand.”

Things I wished I’d have known before reading:

Most of the book is set in Boston in 1959. (Yes, I know it’s in the dust jacket, but I didn’t read all of it!)

New England is a region of the United States. It includes Maine, Vermont, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Connecticut and Rhode Island. (I’m from Texas, we’re our own region.)

Helen Keller was born in 1880 and died in 1968. (For some reason, I’ve never pictured Helen Keller living through both world wars…)

Jameson’s is Irish whiskey and Guinness is Irish beer.

Disclaimer: My review of this memoir is not in any way a reflection upon the author or their life. I am a book reviewer, I review books… not people.

My Scores:

Writing Style: Top Notch

Typically, I try to go easy on memoirs in this category because usually they’re not writing for a living. They’re just people trying to share their story with the world the best way they know how.

However, Tom Sullivan would be an exception to this rule. He is a writer, with serval other books to his name. This book features some of the best writing (in a memoir) that I have ever read, second only to The Hiding Place by Corrie Ten Boon.

Characters: Memorable
(I known they're real people. I’m referring to them as character’s anyway.)

I could easily picture everyone in this book, despite the fact that we’re not given a physical description. 

The MC was completely relatable! He starts out as a typical kid, dreaming a world of possibilities for his future. “As I played my make-believe game, I convinced myself that one day I might stand in Fenway Park as a member of the Boston Red Sox.” 

But, as the summer plays out, suddenly all those possibilities are crushed. His self-worth all but perishes under the weight of his depression. “When it all came down to it, there were still two worlds---mine and theirs---and they were telling me I didn’t belong.” 

He had to really fight to find his happiness again.

Tom Sullivan’s father, nicknamed Porky, was quite a character. He was an Irish immigrant who managed a very successful bar and a few other lucrative but shady side-businesses. He felt that his son could do anything he put his mind to. 

Which is a very sweet feeling to have, but Porky meant it literally. It caused more that few fights with Tom Sullivan's mother, who felt that their son should learn what he can and simply cannot do in this world because of his blindness. 

Plot: Absolute Page Turner

This is very much a boy’s book. There’s lots of baseball jargon and bonding over fishing reels and stupid initiation challenges and boxing matches. But, regardless of how little I knew about any of that, I still had a blast reading this book. Through the eyes of the eleven-year-old boy everything felt important and urgent, which gains the reader's interest.

There was also a good amount of conflict going on. The poor kid was being bullied because he was blind. He was causing his parents to fight because he was blind. He was separated from normal activities because he was blind.

And you just had to know if he was gonna be okay! Because he was blind!

Overall: Totally Obsessed

Overall, I’m totally obsessed with this book. I want the movie. Where’s the movie, Hollywood? Why are studios wasting our time with terrible remakes of great classics when they could be making new movies about stuff we know nothing about. 

I learned so much about blind people in this book, you guys. Like seeing-eye dogs can find their master’s luggage in an airport using a smell tag. Like what? They do that? How cool! 

Also, about 80% of parents of children with special needs split up. Which is another reason we need more movies to stop with the ‘blame game’ and give people encouragement as well as some good ol’ fashion info.

“I never met an ugly person---unless they wanted to be---and I carried no labels or prejudice based on ethnicity or heritage.”

“God provides us all with grace to make the most of what we’ve been given, if we put our faith in Him and live according to His teaching.”

“That’s what I learned in 1959---that I wanted to be a person who happened to be blind, rather than a blind person.”

Extra Notes:
They’re so many famous people mentioned! I wondered if the name-dropping would ever stop… And then I googled him, and it still didn’t stop. Like seriously, there’s a sign above his head that attracts famous people, and I would like to borrow it!

Goodreads Rating: 5 out of 5 stars!

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