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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.