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Mangoes in Paradise
J. D. Turner

June 20, 2019/ ISBN 978-1-07-384280-3

Reviewed by  Laura Hinds

An excerpt from Mangoes in Paradise

Cam Blesi and a friend set out from the beach in his hometown in Connecticut on a hot June morning, bound for California, on horseback. It is 1969, the apex of the sixties movement, a time when such outrageous undertakings hardly raised an eyebrow. He had always been uncomfortable growing up in the affluence of Fairfield County. The wealthy lifestyles seemed irrelevant to him. In his heart of hearts, he was certain he should've been born in the vast American west a hundred years earlier, and he should've grown up to be a cowboy. Powerful emotional issues are driving this great adventure but Cam is unaware of them. Learning as a child to prefer make-believe to reality, he has a habit of wholly adopting grand fantasies about who or what he is, rather than accept who he really is. If the circumstances become too difficult or complicated so that he’s unable to manage and sustain the fantasy, he will quit or run away. As he embarks on the ride, he sees himself as going off to fulfill a dream, but in reality, he is running from a failed marriage and the painful separation from his little boy. And, even though he believes the life choices he makes are thoughtful, deliberate decisions, each one is inevitably just a reaction to the failed outcome of the one that preceded it. Gradually, his life comes to resemble a leaf blown by the wind, as the fantasy world he’s created and fully embraced begins to come undone, and he is forced to face the realities of living life as it comes.

A courageous memoir with an inspiring message.

J.D. Turner has written a memoir of Cam Blesi, sharing the story of one man's transformation from living his life based on his fantasies about who he is and who he will be to living a life grounded firmly in reality. Within the pages of this rousing and endearing book, you’ll find a story of adventure unlike any you’ve read before.

The telling of Cam’s story is done in an honest and heartfelt manner leading readers to ponder how their own lives may have turned out differently had they embarked on such a journey.

I found this book to be thought-provoking and unforgettable. With vivid and powerful descriptions it will capture and hold your attention throughout. The stories of Cam’s life ring true, are unique and original, and it is clear that Turner writes from a contemplative mind.

While I had intended to read this book as soon as I received it, my husband got his hands on it first, so I had to wait until he was done. He surprised me, however, by staying up late two nights in a row to finish it. Not because he knew I was waiting to read it, but because he felt it was so good he couldn’t put it down.

“Mangoes in Paradise” delivers an engaging and entertaining tale and is well worth your time to read and enjoy it.

A memoirist writes of the life he’s lived and gathers that life with words that sweep the good and the bad into a work of art. This is a story that will matter to readers as, with remarkable insight, it sheds light on a life transformed.

Reviewed 2019