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Reviewed by Lucinda E Clarke for Readers' Favorite
I Remember the Time... by Kim Hemphill is a poignant story of a young boy who was born on the wrong side of the tracks. His mother was severely disabled and his father was both physically and mentally abusive towards him. His hero, his elder brother, Craig, got him out of several scrapes when he was young, before being tragically killed in Vietnam after less than two months of active service. At that point, things could have gone horribly wrong. The author did not mix with people who had ambitions and aspirations, and he so easily could have spent his life behind bars. He was filled with an understandable rage, hatred, especially as he was the scapegoat child versus his brother who was the golden child. His sister got away with everything simply because she was a girl. (I would have liked to learn more about her, but understand family dynamics when writing a sensitive biography). At one point, Kim lived in a tent next to his family’s caravan when the lean-to shed his father had assigned him collapsed.
Somewhere there was a spark deep inside which drove Kim Hemphill to strive for a better way of life and a higher standard of living. He was befriended by several people who urged him to complete his education, study for a profession, and were there for him. After two disastrous marriages, and separation from his daughters, although they had initially been left in his care, Kim finally met Carol, his soul mate. Even later in life, when he was the proud father of a son, had a successful job, had proved himself and moved to the right side of the tracks, he recognized he still had a problem with alcohol. He conquered this one last demon. This book is an inspirational story, showing what hard work, commitment and determination can achieve. Although the subject matter is quite harrowing, it was easy to read, flowed nicely and is well edited. I would love to see this book on a prescribed reading list, especially in schools where many children already believe the odds are stacked against them. It shows what can be done if you have the courage and resolve to turn your life around. A great story by Kim Hemphill.