A little while ago, I was approached by my fellow parent blogger at the Republican Herald, Katie Campomizzi-Clews, who writesMommy Mentions, about a book. More specifically, about an author who wrote a book. She had thought he and his work would be right up my alley.
‘For What It’s Worth…Love, Dad’ is a non-fiction book written by Bruce Smith and published in 2012. The book is Bruce’s memoir of being a father and best described in his own words, “Things I always meant to tell you, if only we’d had the time”.
As a writer and a dad, the idea of this book was immediately interesting to me. I wanted to read it. I contacted Bruce and he was nice enough to send me a copy. While I’m not a book reviewer by trade (or hobby, unless you count talking to my wife about the books I read), I thought this book, even before I read it, would be one I would need to say something about.
‘For What It’s Worth’ is a collection of memories told in the first person by Bruce Smith. Trying not to sound too clichéd, Bruce’s memories as a father take the reader on his journey. From the beginning, “…back then I was Peter Pan, a loveable flake with no intention of ever growing up…” to where he is now, kids grown and out of the house.
With each story and each memory, Bruce conjures up emotions any parent can relate to; Total unconditional love, fear as his daughter lay in the hospital, good decisions, bad decisions (scaring his son senseless one Halloween), picking out the perfect pumpkin with his kids (during that same Halloween) and occasional failures (like forgetting to put the drain plug in the boat). Bruce allows us access to all of the feelings he went through at the time.
Between chapters, the reader is treated to those things he always meant to tell his children. Things like, ‘Wisdom comes from Experience’ and ‘You are the writer and star of an implausible (and sometimes impossible) soap opera titled: Your Life’. They serve as a nice interlude and reminder for parents with kids young enough to remember to tell.
Bruce’s writing style reminded me of a blend of Erma Bombeck and Robert Flughum, with every day analogies, humor, compassion, exasperation, and tension that grabbed my attention and kept me tuned in to each chapter. His style of writing makes ‘For What It’s Worth’ more personal, emotional and puts the reader in the moment Bruce has written about. So much so, as I read the book, I could almost hear Bruce’s voice in the words even though our interactions have only been through email.
In the end, ‘For What It’s Worth’ is an honest look at being a parent and a book every parent should read. It will have you shaking your head in agreement, laughing, and wondering about what you would do (like if your daughter sneaks out of the house). Any parent and any reader will finish the book appreciating Bruce Smith’s openness with not only his greatest successes but his greatest fears and failures, and how to pick the perfect pumpkin for Halloween. And understand how all of those moments helped to shape him in to the father he is today.
You can find and buy Bruce’s book: For What It’s Worth…Love, Dad online at: