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Reviewed by Grant Leishman for Readers' Favorite
Regrets by Milton Schacter is a fascinating look at what might have been. Have you ever wished you had a do-over at life, an opportunity to correct the stupid mistakes you made the first time around? I’m sure we’ve all fancied that from time to time. Well, for 70-year-old Bradley Miller, he gets that opportunity for a “mulligan” – sort of! When retired and washed-up human being, Brad, enters his favorite liquor store for a bottle of wine, little does he realize what lies ahead. When Bradley is shot and killed by a robber, his adventures begin. After chatting to the enigmatic Pete, somewhere between heaven and hell, Brad finds himself returned to earth to live out the life of a “homie”, a Black American teenager who is on the verge of heading down a path of drugs, petty crime, and ultimately prison. Armed with his memories and his experiences of Bradley and DeShawn Washington’s own desire to make a difference in his life, he works to ensure that DeShawn not only makes it out of the “hood” but is able to attend college, play basketball to a high level and follow his dream and passion to be a naval aviator. Set during the ’60s and '70s, years of turmoil and social injustice in America, DeShawn (with Bradley’s expertise and memories) is able to fashion a life to be proud of. Black college students and even black basketball players were still somewhat of a novelty during that time and DeShawn found himself in some difficult and testing situations at times that relied on Bradley’s memories, disappointments, and experiences to push through.
The premise behind Regrets intrigued me from the get-go. Author Milton Schacter did a wonderful job of combining two incredibly disparate characters in Bradley and DeShawn. The idea that we could use someone else’s life experience to ensure that we kept our own life on track was a novel one for me and I thoroughly enjoyed the exploration of DeShawn's adult awakening. I really appreciated the author’s ability to raise important moral questions about the situation, questions that are applicable to us all and I found the story and the plot flowed seamlessly from Bradley to DeShawn. The ’60s and ’70s with the Vietnam War, the Civil Rights Movement, and the social upheaval was the perfect setting for this story. What I loved was the synchronicity between the two lives of Bradley and DeShawn and that their paths had actually crossed back when Bradley was just fifteen and experienced the trauma that would blight the path of his own life. The writing style flows wonderfully and I appreciated the flashbacks to Bradley’s life experiences which helped explain why he was, to some extent, the quintessential, grumpy old man who had lived a life full of regrets. This book just flows and was easy to read. If you like a premise that is a bit different from the rest and a story that makes you think and question your own life motivations, pick up this fantastic read. I can highly recommend Regrets.