"The Barefoot Shoeshine Boy" is an amazing story of wonderment! As Al Rivera delves into his life and explains in such a matter of fact way for us, he didn’t know. A small child who endures such vile treatment and has never experienced anything else but that treatment doesn’t know what should be, thus living and making his own fun is a world that should not be. I know the following is a trivial comparison but to those of us who have not gone through the issues Al has, something similar will come to mind. My sister once told me her 2-year-old didn’t like her McDonald’s Happy Meal burger with mustard on it so she did the special order thing every time. Being a mom of four, quite honestly I didn’t have but one response to that crap. How in the world would a toddler know there was even a choice other that what they were given. Life is way too short to make an issue each time you roll through the drive-thru.
A higher being was holding close the soul of Al Rivera as he was growing. He raised himself up into an honorable, successful man who learned many positive lessons from a life that began as something far from pleasant. Al’s great outlook on life is something each of us should inhale. After each chapter you will be given the lesson Al highlights during the previous chapter. My favorite is: "Lesson 10 Sometimes bad experiences bring out the best in us. Whenever you get into a situation, either from an accident like I had or from some kind of illegal activity, always try to turn it into a positive experience that affects not only you but also others around you. In doing so, you might end up making one of the happiest memories of your life." I am in awe of the fact that he could make a lesson out of the events that happen and honestly come away from each negative situation with something positive.
I drew courage in my own life during my reading of "The Barefoot Shoeshine Boy" by Al Rivera and wish that no child would ever have to endure such treatment. As each reader closes the book and wipes their eyes dry, please pass the book on to continue this life-changing read.
The Barefoot Shoeshine Boy: As told to Susan Griffin
Reviewed by Danelle Drake for Reader Views (11/08)