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Reviewed by Grant Leishman for Readers' Favorite
Slade by Robb Grindstaff is a unique attempt, using an unusual style and format, to pinpoint and highlight both the light and dark sides of the human psyche. Written as a series of interviews, the story focuses on the incredible survival and life story of Slade Bennington. After young Slade is horrifically injured in a car crash that killed his beloved sister, Jolene, he is, as he so beautifully puts it, “born again”. As a double amputee, with horrific facial injuries and burn scarring, Slade faces a massive rehabilitation task. Writing down his thoughts and musings during this time ultimately sees a book emerge about his life that becomes an international best-seller and a major motion picture. All this fame and attention give Slade incredible wealth and the unexpected love of the beautiful starlet hired to play Slade’s sister in the movie. A second book, a semi self-help book, propels Slade to superstardom, where he is able to charge exorbitant amounts of money for one-on-one counseling and seminars. Throughout it all, despite the critics and detractors who label him a “cult leader”, a “brainwasher,” and give him the moniker of “Shaman to the Stars”, Slade maintains his simple, down-to-earth philosophy and continues on his life’s journey; a life of love with his beautiful wife, Annie and their three wonderful girls. But with superstardom comes risks and Slade and his family will forever be the target of misguided souls who read much more into Slade’s works than was ever intended.
Slade is an incredibly powerful and thought-provoking story. Author Robb Grindstaff hit upon a stroke of genius in the styling of this tale. By using a series of interviews, conducted by someone writing the story of Slade’s life, we are able to get a deep insight into the motivations and emotions of all the principal characters, something not always achievable with a straight narrative style. I particularly appreciated the candor of the interviewees throughout the story. This made actions and reactions crystal clear for readers. I loved the thoughtful analysis of so many ideas and philosophies. By casting Annie as a retired movie star, whose focus in life these days was the study and teaching of comparative religion, the author was able to discuss many of the great religious leaders and philosophers of history, which I found compelling. I did enjoy Slade’s continued bemusement at his own success and his simple, down-to-earth belief in who he was, what he was doing, and his purpose on this earth. Perhaps the most fascinating part of this story is the exploration of the human psyche and the battle between inherent good and inherent evil in all of us. This is a powerful story that does what all good stories do – it makes you think, it makes you question your own beliefs and motivations and, most importantly, it entertains you deeply. Some of the subtle humor was instantly appealing to me and just added to my enjoyment. This is a fantastic book on many levels and I can highly recommend it.