A rags-to-riches memoir ponders the power of human potential.
Born in a beautiful farming village in eastern Nigeria, Ndukwe (The Courage to Aspire, 2018, etc.) writes fondly of loving parents and caring teachers who shaped his character. When a Methodist church opened a school in his area, he was not quite 4 years old, but he still attended and excelled. His “life altering magic moment” occurred when two American electrical engineers performed a science demonstration in his classroom—with wires, a battery, and the flip of a switch, they made a light bulb shine. That’s when the excited student decided to become an electrical engineer. He not only ended up working in electrical engineering, he also earned computer science degrees in the U.S. at Boston’s Northeastern University and worked for companies like USRobotics. At his highest point, he was a manager at Lucent Technologies, designing internet gateways. After the U.S. technology sector bust, the author lost everything. His most painful experience was a bitter divorce—his wife ran away with his children. Homeless, hungry, and angry, he turned to God for answers and, ultimately, he worked his way out of the mire. The author’s childhood anecdotes are vivid. For example, when he received the highest grade on a final exam, it’s easy to imagine the boy’s beaming face as his teacher allowed him to stand on a table while the class clapped. Sometimes the memories are powerfully moving, as when the 12-year-old Ndukwe was asked to bathe his baby sister’s dead body. Each chapter also ends with the author’s takeaways, or thoughts for reader reflection. While well-intentioned, these numbered thoughts are often redundant, interrupting the flow of otherwise fluid prose. For example, at the end of a chapter about his instructors, he writes: “The teachers’ love and affection for a child can have a profound positive impact on the child.” While true, this sentiment is already evident in his anecdotes about his compassionate teachers. Despite this snag, Ndukwe’s spirited storytelling makes the book worthwhile.
A dynamic patchwork of memories and life lessons.