Thursday, March 8, 2012

Book Review: Life Lessons: Self Help from the Silver Screen by Gavin Jerome

Recently I was given the opportunity to review Life Lessons: Self Help from the Silver Screen, a new ebook from motivational speaker Gavin Jerome. It seemed like it would be a great fit for me.  I enjoy movies as much as I enjoy my books, and mixing philosophical concepts into this medium sounded like a fun idea.

I must admit I’ve had mixed reactions to Jerome’s ebook.  For the most part, I agree with the thoughts he’s trying to convey in his work, but I found some weaknesses to be distracting.  His writing style is very informal, seemingly appropriate for a young crowd, such as older teens or those in their young 20s.  However, the movies from which he’s chosen to glean thoughts from were, on the average, released in the late 1980’s and early 1990’s.  Not one of the movies he uses as an object lesson was produced in the 21st century.  There’s nothing wrong with this, it just doesn’t give this new book an air of freshness or immediacy.  And younger readers might feel alienated from the material from which he’s drawing, as most of them weren’t released within the last decade and a half. Yes, Netflix and other rental options are available, but I don’t know that the younger generation is necessarily going to be drawn to the bulk of the chosen films here.  It didn’t come as a surprise when he stated that the book’s manuscript sat untouched for a decade.

I was also alarmed to see how much punctuation, typographical and grammatical errors there were throughout the work.  I read advanced editions all the time, so I’m accustomed to seeing a typo or two, but this is a finished work that seems to have missed the Spell Check feature in Jerome’s word processor.  I also lost respect for him as a movie fan and as a writer when he consistently misspelled Ferris Bueller's last name as “Buehler”.

Tom Hanks as Jim Lovell
Having said all of that, as a 40 year-old movie fan, I’ve seen most of the movies he referenced in Life Lessons and enjoyed revisiting them to glean some good ideas.  I think my two favorites came from Apollo 13 and Star Wars, where Jerome helps us take on daunting issues in our lives.  When faced with a huge crisis, it’s best not to get hysterical, but to work the problem to find a solution, much like Jim Lovell did when he calmly stated, “Houston, we have a problem.”  Yes, Lovell was facing a life-and-death situation, but by keeping his wits about him, he was able to make it through.  In the case of Star Wars, Luke Skywalker took on his daunting Death Star trench run with the attitude of reliving “Beggar’s Canyon back home”.  Comparing new challenges with previous successes is a good thing to keep in mind on those days when we feel overwhelmed.

While I can’t give a wild recommendation for Life Lessons, I can appreciate the good thing that Gavin Jerome is doing in his work.  It’s obvious that he poured his heart into this, brought himself to the table and is hoping to help others through the beloved medium of film.  If you’re someone from my generation who can look past a bit of weak writing, I think you might have some fun with this one.  It’s a quick read that should give you a thing or two to think about as you remember some fun movies from days gone by.

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