Mangoes in Paradise

Fiction - Literary
322 Pages
Reviewed on 08/04/2017
Buy on Amazon

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    Book Review

Reviewed by Divine Zape for Readers' Favorite

Mangoes in Paradise by J.D. Turner is a beautiful story that explores an unusual adventure and a journey that takes one man across the country back to himself, an inspirational and heartwarming tale. Since childhood, Cam Blesi has always had a fascination for cowboys. In 1969, he sets out on horseback to cross America, finally living his all-time dream, but his partner quits along the way and he continues the journey alone until his horse gets tired and can’t go on anymore. Having the horse shipped back, he ends up in Aspen, Colorado, where his real journey to becoming a cowboy begins. He works hard and gets accepted into a community of cowboys, but a tragic accident means they have to let him go as he can’t work anymore. This is where his real journey begins. While receiving treatment in the hospital, he will begin to face life as it is, and to accept the truth about himself.

This book reads like a spiritual odyssey of a man in search of himself and I enjoyed the masterful use of paradox in the writing and the message it conveyed: You can’t run away from yourself. Without admitting it to himself, Cam has left his world to travel on horseback, believing in adventure, living one of his biggest fantasies, but it is what he is running from that is more important than where he is headed. It is interesting to notice how life forces him to ask important questions and to face himself, especially in his utter vulnerability. J.D. Turner has crafted a novel that both entertains and enlightens readers, a book that teaches readers the indisputable truth that real freedom is in facing one’s fears and acceptance of one’s reality. The writing is beautiful, laced with vivid descriptions and passages that are insightful and charged with emotional depth. Mangoes in Paradise is well plotted, masterfully written, and character-driven, a satisfying read.

Jane Finch

Mangoes in Paradise by J.D. Turner tells the story of Cam Blesi, who sets out on an adventure he has always dreamed about, riding across the States to California on horseback. His riding partner, Jack, doesn't seem to have the same excitement and commitment as Cam, and after just three days Jack quits and returns home. Cam continues alone, meeting a number of people who befriend him and offer assistance along the way, and Cam enjoys an almost celebrity status. As time goes on, however, he finds himself battling loneliness, something that he had not anticipated. Supposed to be a great lifetime fulfilment, the adventure takes a different turn which gives Cam another opportunity to fulfil another dream, to be a real-life cowboy. However, tragedy strikes and Cam finds himself on a journey he had never imagined.

For anyone longing for adventure, this story will fulfil their dreams. J.D. Turner has done a good job of drawing the reader into this journey, starting with the practicalities of riding a horse long distances day after day, and the challenges and opportunities this brings, to a deeper and more emotional journey of disillusionment and desperation, but finally satisfaction and peace. The depiction of the horseback journey is well done, and the characters are well developed and believable. Even the horse has a character and determination all of his own. This is a story where the reader can lose themselves in the adventure and, by the time everything changes, Cam is an old friend and the reader is rooting for him throughout.

Samantha Dewitt (Rivera)

Cam has been hoping for the same thing his entire life, to be a real cowboy, like the ones he’s always watched on TV. But of course, being a cowboy is a lot more difficult than he thought and his plan to ride from the east coast to the west coast might just be fraught with more peril than he planned on. When he finds himself stuck in the middle of his trip with a lame horse and no money, he has to come up with some new plans. Of course, being a cowboy can be a whole lot more work than one would imagine and an accident could just change the course of his life forever in Mangoes in Paradise by J.D. Turner.

This is a book all about the romance of dreams and pursuing those dreams, but also about some of the harshness of reality. Cam is a character who is likeable and relatable, but also very flawed. Throughout this book, you’ll get a lot of adventure going on, but you’re going to love all of it. Cam is dedicated and determined to follow his dreams, but he’s also able to overcome a lot of setbacks and problems that would completely derail most people. The people he meets along the way are fun, interesting, and really help make the story. I really liked how Mangoes in Paradise approached the idea of pursing and losing your plan for life, and figuring out just how to make the most and best of everything.