Permission to Dream

Amistad. Apr. 2021. 208p. ISBN 9780063031562. $24.99. MEMOIR
On a bitterly cold day in Chicago, businessman Gardner takes his granddaughter to a music shop to buy her the harmonica of her dreams. What might have been a simple errand becomes a transformative exploration of the power of dreams, which Gardner retells in this work of narrative nonfiction. In the tradition of oral storytelling, Gardner, along with co-author Rivas, easily weaves history, spirituality, and philosophy into biographical stories shared in conversation with his granddaughter. Believing in and pursuing his dreams helped the author survive a troubled childhood and inspired him to join the navy, which in turn led to a career in finance. Gardner’s dreams also helped him get through a difficult period of single fatherhood while experiencing homelessness, as detailed in his previous best-selling work, The Pursuit of Happyness. By sharing his experiences with his granddaughter, he realizes what his own next step in life should be—to become a motivational speaker for young people—and is able to start to heal from the experience of his longtime partner’s recent death.
VERDICT This fable-like tale, which blends biography and self-help, is an inspirational reminder to dream big and dream often. Gardner’s latest memoir will especially resonate with readers of Mitch Albom and Paulo Coelho.
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