Son of Escobar by Roberto Sendoya Escobar

“…say this story is true, the calibre of writing in this book isn’t worth enduring.”

1/5 stars.
ebook, 184 pages.
Read from December 26, 2020 to December 31, 2020.

This book was a selection for my book club. Normally, the beauty of book clubs is reading books that you wouldn’t have read and most of the time that’s a good thing, this time, however, it was not.

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you probably know the name, Pablo Escobar. You know, the biggest drug lord in history? The guy has a whole Netflix series (Narcos) about him. The premise of this book is that the author claims that he is Escobar’s firstborn son. In 1965, MI6 operatives raid and shoot up a safe house that results in the death of a young mother with one of the operatives deciding to save her newborn baby (the author). The operative put the child in an orphanage only to adopt him later. The operative learns whose child it is and massive amounts of effort are gone into protecting the child as well as using him to coerce a friendly relationship with Pablo himself. The book details all of the events that happened to the author as he grew up in this strange environment. From kidnappings, shootouts, murder, and more, all while not knowing who his real father is and thinking that having armed guards is a normal part of childhood. Strange meetings were made with Pablo Escobar as the author grew but he was never given an explanation of who Pablo was or the relevance of the meetings. As an adult, the author does eventually learn that Pablo Escobar is his father, apparently, and at the end of his adoptive father’s life, he is given a code that is supposed to be the location of Pablo Escobar’s missing fortune after he was taken down and his property destroyed. The code is published within this book hoping someone will figure out its encrypted location.

If this sounds far fetched to you, you’re not alone. The author has been called out for misinformation and lies since this book’s publication. It makes no difference to me if this story is real or not as people can write whatever they please, however, the writing quality in this book was dire and I didn’t find it all that entertaining. Well, I suppose it was interesting to discuss these points in a book club setting but the book was still a disappointing read. I would not recommend this book as I think it’s likely a money grab and a publicity stunt. Outside of that, say this story is true, the calibre of writing in this book isn’t worth enduring.

Solutions and Other Problems by Allie Brosh

“Sometimes all you can really do is keep moving and hope you end up somewhere that makes sense.”

5/5 stars.
ebook, 384 pages.
Read from December 17, 2020 to December 18, 2020

Allie Brosh took the internet by storm with her blog and book Hyperbole and a Half in the mid-2000s. Her comics perfectly captured life’s random mishaps and the strange things we did in childhood, as well as accurately describing what life is like living with depression. Allie disappeared for almost seven years shortly after her fame. What happened to her? Solutions and Other Problems captures the difficult time that Allie went through in her silence along with hilarious insights and more intriguing and ridiculous things about childhood.

Allie had planned to release another book within a year or two after Hyperbole and a Half but then tragedy happened. Her sister died suddenly. This was then followed by the end of a long term relationship and with Allie having to contend with some serious health issues, all of which she includes and reflects on in this book. A triple whammy of difficulties and pain, so it’s no wonder she became reclusive. It didn’t help that her email and social media was also hacked into at one point. This book takes on these major transitions in her life. It includes comics about her childhood as she remembers her sister and how she managed to get through some of the most difficult years of her life. Her story is relatable, potent, hilarious, and grounding. I should also add that while there are some very sad parts in this book it is still very much a comedy and that Allie’s trademark humour is present throughout.

The best part about this book is that it is deeply insightful and offers an intimate glimpse into Allie’s experiences and the things that have shaped her as an artist while still being immensely engaging and entertaining. It’s a book that shows how Allie has grown as a person and an artist. Allie has also come to see how much of an impact her work has had on others and just how much other people care about her. I also think that this book was healing for Allie and was less about what her fans wanted and more about what she needed. Many fans did not connect with this book as much as her first for this reason but I feel that not only was this book necessary but an authentic effort from Allie that reached an even wider audience. 

This book was absolutely worth the wait and completely captures the growing pains of grief and coming into your own despite life’s intense difficulties at times.

How to Heal Your BFRB by Lauren I. Ruiz Bloise

What is your BFRB trying to tell you?

4/5 stars.
ebook, 142 pages.
Read from May 27, 2021 to June 9, 2021.

A big shout out to Lauren who graciously provided me with a copy of her book that I was anxiously awaiting to read. I’m always looking for fresh resources and treatments for BFRBs that I can learn and share with the BFRB community. BFRB stands for ‘Body-Focused Repetitive Behaviours’ and includes things such as excessive skin picking or hair pulling, among many other behaviours. If you have a BFRB, you already know how debilitating and life-consuming it is but it is books like this one that brings hope in managing this condition.

Lauren blends her own experience in overcoming her BFRBs with reasons why we act on our BFRB behaviours. What is your BFRB trying to tell you? And how can you tune into your triggers and be more aware of the behaviours that coincide with your BFRB? Lauren also explores a variety of proven and commonly suggested methods of BFRB treatments, such as habit logs, reshaping mindsets, as well as a wide variety of coping mechanisms and strategies all into one concise book. What’s nice about this book compared to other books on the market, is that she offers up real-life tools and a step by step means of action to achieve desired results with your BFRB. This all while being one of the most approachable books on BFRB’s with its informative but casual tone. While the book itself tends to focus on skin picking, as it is Lauren’s BFRB, the methods she suggests can be easily applied to any BFRB.

As someone who has had a BFRB for many years now, much of this information wasn’t new to me as they were methods I had used previously to get my life back and get my BFRB under control, so I can attest to the methods used in this book. Like anything in life, sometimes you need a refresher and this book was a perfectly timed reminder for me as my BFRB started to set back in for a short while.

Lauren endorses a lifestyle change method to overhaul your BFRB but in a way that doesn’t feel overwhelming despite being very thorough. The book itself is not the “read once and done” type of self-help book but rather a guide to how to structure your BFRB healing and the steps and processes needed to get it there. With that said, you need to be prepared to put in the work if you want to see results and be committed to your BFRB journey. As with any process, it’s not easy and not usually linear but with support from books like this, you can overcome your BFRB.