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Reviewed by Linda Wright for Readers' Favorite
Make It Good: The Stories in My Early Life by Barry Sheinkopf is an unusual memoir. Each of the eleven chapters portrays experiences which the author explains were “aha!" moments for him. There are poignant scenes with his father during a train trip to Florida, and also during his early religious education when he is expelled from Yeshiva, not once but three times. And there are evocative scenes when he travels with his mother to Paris to visit a cousin who was paralyzed. The time when he left his own career to help his mother in the family export business after his father died gives the reader an inside view of the garment district of New York.
The writing reflects the author’s experience as a voracious reader, photographer and poet. Each scene is written with precision and clarity. I would have enjoyed this book just for the milieu of New York City alone. The characters are well developed and engaging. I frequently felt as if I was a voyeur peeking into a youth very unlike my own. In Sheinkopf’s preface, he explains that he asked himself “But so what?” after every chapter. Further, he ponders, “and what will it mean to a reader?” I took that as an invitation to read this book with an openness to questions rather than answers. Because the author does not directly tell us his own revelations, he leaves room to explore the possibilities. Make It Good: The Stories in My Early Life is, as Sheinkopf intended, both entertaining and amusing. It is also thought provoking.