Friday, March 9, 2018

First Chapter Review: Stumbling into Happiness by Michael Schoenhofer

The author of this self-published memoir contacted me to review the first chapter.

BLURB:  The true story of how, as a young priest is sent to Zimbabwe, falls in love and finally finds himself and happiness. He doesn’t know what he’s getting himself into—but finds himself on a journey that goes far beyond anything he could have expected.

Tasked with building a mission from the ground up—literally—Mike Schoenhofer quickly realizes that he still has a lot to learn about life, work, and love. In a totally unfamiliar place, with an unfamiliar people, Mike has to learn a new language, a new culture, and connect with the Tonga people, while managing his own difficult team. But even as the success of the mission grows, and the Tongas embrace him as one of their own, he still feels something is missing. When he meets a pretty, funny young nun, he is finally forced to re-examine everything he’s believed, including his own struggle with his commitment to the priesthood.

Part adventure, part romance, part coming-of-age, author Michael Schoenhofer takes readers on his journey through the often funny, sometimes painful, and totally relatable tale of how he finally stumbled into happiness.

Stumbling Into Happiness has the self-discovery and adventure of Cheryl's Strayed's Wild and Elizabeth Gilbert's Eat Pray Love. Each memoirist is on a journey to find herself, and traveling to unfamiliar places and shaking up their lives in a huge way is the catalyst to soul-searching and self-discovery that sets them down a new path. What sets Stumbling into Happiness apart is the added layer of struggle with religious faith, and more significantly, that it's told by a male narrator. The religious theme could be played up or down, depending on the market we decided to focus on. In any case, our main character Mike Schoenhofer is a likable, honest narrator sharing a universal story - the search for self, and the search for happiness, a common human goal whether the searcher is a recent divorcee or a young priest not sure he made the right choice by entering the clergy. Schoenhofer's easy, detailed but passionate prose has a Garrison Keillor-like appeal.

COVER: Smart choice because it is of the couple and speaks to the places he's been.

FIRST CHAPTER: The reader meets Michael Schoenhofer, who even before taking his vows was doubtful of his commitment to the priesthood, and whose life is about to change when he finds himself chosen to go on a mission trip to Africa.

KEEP READING: Definitely. While I believe an editor could trim up this first chapter so it has less backstory, overall the opening chapter reads well and ends in a way that encourages the reader to continue. The story is fascinating in many aspects and will be of interest to those who like to read about romance, adventure, and figuring out this thing called life.

I received a copy of the first chapter from the author. This review contains my honest opinions, which I have not been compensated for in any way.

No comments: