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Underground by Deji Ayoade | Book Review


Discover the powerful story of one man’s quest for the American Dream and spiritual fulfillment in “Underground” by Deji Ayoade. Join him on an emotional journey filled with trials and triumphs, grief and joy, loss and love. Through candid and vulnerable storytelling, Deji shares his personal narrative with raw honesty and poise.

Whatever you have dreamed for your own life, however, you have imagined the next several years going, there is something for you in Deji’s memoir. This is a must-read for anyone who has ever dared to dream, and for anyone who has ever wondered what it truly means to find faith and purpose.

My Review:

Autobiographies and memoirs are solid source of inspiration and motivation for many of us. In these books, people taking remarkable journeys to overcome their challenges and finally achieving their most desired achievements. Of late, I finished the book Underground by Deji Ayoade… it is about hope and faith that the author stuck to better his life. In this moving and raw memoir, he tells the story from his birth in Nigeria to becoming a commissioned officer in the Air Force of the USA handling nuclear missile operations, working directly with the top political echelons of the country.

With honesty and courage, Deji recounts the dangers and hardships he faced in his childhood and college days and even after arriving in Baltimore, MD. However, this is not one-sided memoir of pain and tribulation and encountering bad people, the author with kind heart also involves the people who loved him, supported him, noticed him and stretched a hand of kindness and love to him. From veterinary officer in the US Navy to get commissioned as a top officer into the U.S. Air Force is a remarkable feat in one’s life.

“You’ll be heading straight to a special duty: nuclear missile operations.”

No matter what you face and where you were born, if one is determined, life offers opportunities. Deji Ayoade left no opportunity go waste as he’s motivated to improve life conditions of his mother and other relatives back in Nigeria. The book is a long read with proper coverage on life in Nigeria and life in the USA. He has covered an ocean of memories from his life to make this memoir not only compelling but also inspiring.

This memoir is a powerful and moving testament to the strength and resilience of the human spirit as well as critical look at the life’s challenges as an immigrant. I would recommend Deji’s story to everyone who dreamt about American dream and still pursuing it.

My Rating:

4 out of 5

Never Ever, Ever Give Up by Jay Sidhu | Book Review


A journey in leadership–living an authentic, emotionally and spiritually healthy life and raising emotionally healthy children-that reads like a novel.

A young man leaves his home in India and backpacks through Afghanistan, Iran, and Western Europe on his way to London, on a mission of peace. Then that same young man travels alone to the United States and starts college in a small town, knowing no one. Jay Sidhu, the young man who took both of those journeys, soon came to live the American Dream, kicking off a career in banking that’s not just him, but eventually his son and daughter all leading NYSE traded companies.

Never Ever, Ever Give Up tells Jay’s story, which will inspire everyone, no matter what their background, to realize that if they reach for the stars, they can succeed beyond their wildest dreams, too. Jay’s story is one of tenacity, decency, hard work, friendships, creativity, and a sense of humor. Every reader will be inspired by Jay’s character, and every reader who follows in Jay’s footsteps is likely to have a life beyond his or her own wildest dreams.

My Review:

Jay Sidhu’s Never Ever, Ever Give Up is a fascinating work of memoir. The book is autobiographical in nature but it totally impressed me – so full of history, business insights, travelling, and personal anecdotes – this was a great read for me this month.

It’s another great book on American-immigrant dreams. The author dreamt of going to America, working and settling there like his cousins. However, he did it without investing a dime in it. Yes, dreams do come true if you have great perseverance, determination, and a strong will. Jay Sidhu is now a known figure in the United States, the bank he worked for, he took it to eminent heights, making a hefty profit and creating thousands of employment for people. Anyway his journey from India to the USA is inspiring, motivational, and surely exceptional.

The book inches ahead with a proper cast of story from his parents life. It develops during the pre-independence Indian era. His parents survived a nightmarish train journey in 1947. His father being a military officer laid a foundation of mettle and grit for him. During his college time, the author and his friend Gautam backpacked through Asian and European countries to carry the message of peace on behalf of India. Their hitchhiking adventures at a young age at 18 blew me. I have no words to express the feat. It was difficult and dangerous to travel through Afghanistan to Iran to Turkey to many European countries and then back home India, with just $ 100 at hand. Amazing thrill…isn’t? However, that journey was life-changing for Jay. He learnt and expresses optimism that in life we should grab and appreciate opportunities over brooding and negativity.

His application to the USA universities was on full scholarship. He did his MBA degree from Wilkes University, Pennsylvania. Be it travel for peace messages, study in the USA, and working in the banking sector, he did it with an overwhelming force of will, thus, he achieved so much in his life. At just thirty seven, he became a CEO of one of the American banks. He is settled in the USA and now giving back to the society through his business management school. The expanse of the memoir is vast, from family scaffolding to working odd jobs abroad to managing his studies and rising in banking sector. I am glad that I didn’t feel that this memoir is boring and has only a few angles to portray. Rich in diversity and life experience, Jay’s tale of life should be treasured for future generations.

Jay penned down his own story as he is narrating to an auditorium full of listeners. He wrote with clarity and didn’t confuse readers at any point of time. All in all, a riveting book from a dreamer’s point of view.

My Rating:

4.5 Out of 5

Why Not Win? by Larry D. Thornton | Book Review

Short Synopsis:

Aspiring business owners and executives seeking to climb to the next rung, young to mid-career professionals seeking tools for life achievement, and general readers interested in biographies of successful people will like Larry Thornton’s Why Not Win?. The book is a front-row seat to how one man altered his thinking to transform his life. The book begins with his growing up with brown skin in the 1960s in segregated Montgomery, Alabama. A desegregation school pioneer, Thornton was a classroom failure until a perceptive English teacher showed him he had value and encouraged him to go to college…

My Review:

Every great personality has to go through pain and misery of discrimination at various stages of life, sometimes it is attributed due to poverty, family issues, and religion. However, for the author Larry D. Thornton it was mainly because of his black skin. Color racism was at the forefront when the author was growing up in the United States. It was so politically and socially deep rooted that Larry had no option but to win everything.

Based on his life experiences, is the inspiring memoir book – Why Not Win? by Larry D. Thornton. As per his memory, he was born in 1954 in Madison Park, Alabama. As when the author was a kid he was fascinated and terrified by Jim Crow and his wrath on black natives of the USA, especially for those living in the Southern part. But later on, he got to know that Crow is a just a fictional character developed by some white man during the play stages.

He remembers living in Madison Park, with poor family and negligible facilities, remembering some incidents of bad luck where black people dying bereaved of care. As an earnest reader, you may find yourself sympathizing and hoping for equal life style for all Americans.

As one reads keenly the accounts of Larry, along with him also runs a commentary on many political and social reforms and events of the USA, especially of Southern part of the USA. Jim Crow discrimination about black skinned people runs throughout the book like silent banter. No doubt the author was perturbed by racism that are covered in snatches throughout his life, wherever he went, and worked. According to Jim Crow, all is needed to balance the Southern way of life. Jim Crow was a fictional character to keep African Americans degraded, lower to their position. Someone looking to have to know what damage Jim Crow ideology done to African American natives, this is the best book with no heavy burdens.

Like any successful biography and memoir, the book sheds light on life experiences of the author. His life filled with setbacks, stalls, and false starts, and academic failures. Despite that all, he made it big for himself, his family, and millions like him. However, these facets of discrimination nudged him to be a better and strong person. Setting examples for millions like him. From being a teacher to artist to a boardroom director, Larry has an ocean of wisdom to share with the society.

As you read, the author recounts his days from nobody to being someone, this memoir is going to stir a place for people like author and likes of Nelson Mandela. The narrative is emotional, hopeful, and yes inspiring. The author’s notes to his son and cousins and others are summing up his own experiences so that it could become learning for them.

My Rating:

4 out of 5

Dancing with Disruption by Linda Rossetti | Book Review

Short Synopsis:

Learn how to succeed in the wake of turmoil in your career and personal life through this groundbreaking toolkit and the captivating stories of those who have put it to work and positively changed their lives.

Dancing with Disruption: A New Approach to Navigating Life’s Biggest Changes transforms your understanding of upheaval in your life and guides you through a proven toolkit that ensures your personal and career success. Linda Rossetti engages readers with her own experience of disruption along with the stories of many others from a variety of ages, occupations, and circumstances. Readers learn to reframe emotions, restore confidence, and realize possibilities once thought unimaginable. An essential, thought-provoking, and truly empowering roadmap for succeeding at the crossroads of your life.

My Review:

Life is not always about challenges. At times a change…unwanted and undesired in our life catches us so fiercely that we go stray – doesn’t know what to do – how to feel about it. Dancing with Disruption by Linda Rossetti is a cult classic book that explores the ups and downs of our life when changes knock us down. Thus, its punch line is apt: A New Approach to Navigating Life’s Biggest Changes.

“This book will position disruption as a platform for renewing our self-concept, a journey that can enable joyful, expansive, and enlivening growth.”

In fact, it’s the change that brings challenges in our life. This book directs “changes” as disruption and disorientation. It provides solutions to such life situations where we are derailed from our professional or personal life due to any reason. However, looking at the bright side of the cloud, the silver lining is that disruptions have the power and potential to redefine ourselves for something great.

I have gone through many professional disruptions in my career. From many of the situations, I was often faced with joblessness that came all of sudden, with no proper notice period, no salary on time, and so on. It becomes so hard to recoup before you line-up for interviews. The mental pressure is immense, and it adds up if you are the only bread-winner of your home. So, when I delved deep in this book, I begin relating my experiences with the likes of many case studies and people with whom the author interacted and did research. Right at the beginning, the case of Melanie from a fintech company (working as an equity analyst), who moves from Hong Kong to New York, loses her job. That uncertainty triggers disruption. And it is common. Self belief and esteem is shaken by disruption. Disruption differs for all individuals, not same all the time. Also, it needs to be understood that disruption comes in many forms. It also helps in repositioning of ourselves. It opens gateway for other possibilities in life and transits us from terrifying and unsettling moments to promising and joyful phase.

The book as it goes further shifts its focus on gateway disruption. It indeed is a big thing; however, not many could comprehend it properly to leverage its power to do something better and bigger in life. How it impacts and influences us, Reflection as a toolkit, choices and our association with it regarding growth and emotions – the book is a treasure trove for people looking to start afresh aftermath a major disruption in their life.

Real-life incidents and research conversations are explained with basic daily life examples. Each chapter galore with a plenty of case studies of people like Seema, Lakshmi, and Beth Anne. I personally liked the coverage on choices and transition and growth. The book offers tips and ways on gateway disruption that no one will ever tell you, even the online forums.

My Review:

4.5 out of 5

In a Time of Fools by Kelly Unger | Book Review

Short Synopsis:

Aakash arrived at university with his whole life planned out. Lena returned with plans to start over. Neither of them planned to fall in love.

As the only male child, Aakash carries his family’s hopes from Bangalore, India, to graduate school in Madison, Wisconsin, a city more like a village. There he meets Lena, a fellow engineering student whose heart, like his, is in music. Lena is a failed violinist; Aakash’s tabla is his single frivolity. Their connection is swift but fragile, constantly threatening to break as they struggle to understand one another’s motives and insecurities. Yet the struggle also drives them closer, opening both to love and heartbreak.

When Aakash returns home to face a family crisis, he must determine whether his father’s wishes are his own, while Lena must decide whether to reveal a secret that will change both of their lives forever.

My Review:

Set in a beautiful and exotic Northern America i.e. Madison, In a Time of Fools by Kelly Unger is a compelling story of a young American girl’s romantic encounter with an Indian boy. The backdrop and tempo of the story transcend deep cultural differences. Once you get along with Lena, Tessa, Aakash, it becomes a must read. Once you start, you won’t be able to put it down.

The novel, in particular, pragmatically portrays how the cultural grooming and transformation of an individual impacts personal lives at social levels. Neither reeking feminism nor racism, the storyline in the first part tries to be as jovial as could possible. At large, the first part of the book speaks about their day to day life in college, flats, friendship palaver, and basic hurdles of Indians in a far-away land. But amidst all, Lena and Aakash build up liking for each other. Kelly’s beautiful streaks of psychic narrative delved deep in the tenacity and behavioral pattern that one acquires when facing cross-cultural test in life. Aakash is shy, handsome, and silent guy. He thinks of converting things in his favour but only time could test his mettle?

Lena could be found standing at the crossroads between traditional values and a modern life – she is all in love for that Indian guy. The second part portrays the complicated living patterns from Bangalore, India. The narrative lays emphasis on Aakash. How he fairs in love? Could he overcome all hurdles to be returning love unconditionally for Lena? Kelly tenderly explores the societal battle and expectations from a woman’s point of view. Lena loses her mental health? Why? That’s deep inside story. Her journey from a cavalier student to caring would-be-mother is a journey of reclaiming one’s own identity. She also raises hope in long-distance relationship as how long should a girl hold onto her love? Kelly intelligently contrasts the American culture with Indian. That difference sums up, we are ‘Living in a Time of Fools’. When love is tested by moral choices, it hardly brings happiness. People have advanced degrees, tech trends, global traveling but love is seen from rudimentary ossified beliefs. It didn’t go through a much needed renaissance…

Love, loyalty, honesty, sacrifice, friendship…are some hot themes bundled up in the overall plot. If you enjoy unhurried and love story told in a different way, grab this novel ASAP from Kindle.

My Rating:

4 out of 5