Side-Yard Superhero Book Review/Giveaway

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Although life's journey takes him far from his childhood home, Rick D. Niece, Ph.D., never forgets the people he meets and the lessons he learns as a young man growing up in picturesque DeGraff, Ohio, population 900. A small-town newspaper boy who becomes a lifelong educator himself, Dr. Niece is deeply touched by the endearing residents of DeGraff who shaped his youth especially Bernie Jones. Confined to a wheelchair with severe cerebral palsy, Bernie becomes Rickie s friend, inspiration and superhero, opening a world of compassion, trust and adventure to them both.

When he leaves DeGraff to attend Ohio State University, Rick promises Bernie that he will visit him again. Unfortunately, when Bernie s parents pass away, Bernie disappears, too, taken in by a distant relative. Forty years later, Rick learns that his boyhood friend is living in a nursing home. Returning to Ohio, he visits the never-to-be-forgotten Bernie Jones of a childhood long past and a promise finally kept.

I was recently lucky enough to be chosen to review a new book titled “Side-Yard Superhero”. I am referring to myself as lucky in hindsight, having read the book and discovering just how wonderful it is in its entirety. It’s not that I thought it would be a bad read, but yes, my expectations of it ended up being far surpassed by how good it actually was. Truth be told, I didn’t know what to expect of it at first.

I saw the picture on the cover and thought that the wheelchair was a metaphor of age and that the book would be a simple retelling of the author’s life and lessons learned. Little did I know that I would soon be opening a cover that would not close until the book was read, and from the pages I would receive a subtle yet powerful, perspective-enlightening message, wrapped in a “coming of age” tale that will stay close to my heart forever.

Where do I begin? The first chapter of this book had me believing that it would simply be another non-fiction autobiography by someone who’s life and experiences have taught them a lesson to good to keep to themselves. This wouldn’t have been a bad thing at all. A fresh perspective is always welcome and finding out how other people overcame tough obstacles can help guide us to similar solutions, or at least point us in the right direction. The second and third chapters, however, were game-changers. They introduced me to Bernie Jones (To be fair, he was mentioned in the first paragraphs of chapter 1, but no real information was given and the book could have went anywhere from there), and though I’ll never have the chance to meet him, I now feel as if I have known him my whole life.

It wasn’t until after discovering Bernie that the picture on the book’s cover really made sense. The outline of Ohio with a “B” in it, signify where the Rick niece (the storyteller) was raised and Bernie’s name. I Think that it was also a way to make Bernie a part of Ohio forever. By now, you might be wondering “Who is Bernie Jones?” or “What’s so special about him?”. To answer as straightforwardly as possible, Bernie Jones was the author’s childhood friend, a friend that bore the burden of cerebral palsy. Rick Niece tells first about how he met Bernie on his paper route, and then shares several of their “adventures”. He does this with hypnotic storytelling and clever metaphors. The personalities of himself and Bernie are translated as well as they can be through words, after reading this book, you will want to meet them and feel as if you already have.

The story is touching and enlightening. I've never known anyone personally who suffered from cerebral palsy, because of this story, I now feel closer to its victims. Rick has done something wonderful with this book, he has written a hypnotic story that will actually appeal to the masses. Inside this story, he delivers a powerful message in an almost subliminal fashion. He never treated Bernie as if he were “less” than himself, he treated him with the same kindness he would any loved one. Though Rick is very humble in his telling, I think it safe to say that without him Bernie Jones would not have had much of a life, and would be remembered by almost no one.

Rick Shares a lot of his life growing up In Ohio, he tells of many different neighbors that were all very unique individuals. One thing I noticed is that he only shared the good in those people, leaving out the bad. He refers to himself as a memory Keeper; I suspect that he is a very good one . There are small poem-like adages in between some chapters. Like the chapters themselves, some are slower than others. Also like the chapters themselves, I enjoyed reading them all. The perspective is very unique, but also very relatable. Some of them are quite enlightening.

I love to read and I have to confess that usually fiction is my “cup of tea”, but at the beginning of the book, Rick referred to the story as his “automythography” and I said to myself “For some reason, I know that this will be good.” It just so happens that this is one of the best books I’ve ever read, and it has nothing to do with the fact that I too was raised in Ohio. It is worth mentioning that not only will you gain a powerful message from it, but you’ll also be donating to a good cause. For every book that is sold, one dollar is donated to United cerebral palsy. So please, don’t hesitate to check it out.

There is a picture of the author and Bernie on the last page. It was perfect in its placement; Bernie looked just as I thought he would. I could hear his voice (the voice I gave him in my mind) saying. “Rickie my boy, you’ve done it.” Leave it to an “automythography” to bring tears of happiness to
my eyes.

Where to purchase: You are able to make a purchase from the Rick D. Niece, Ph.D. website and on Amazon for $12.44.

Disclosure: I was sent products for free to review for my honest opinion, from either a PR agency or a company. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers. Your opinions may vary from my opinions. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: " Guides concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising. You can also go here and read my PR Polices. a Rafflecopter giveaway


  1. NB ID- Farrah Shumway

  2. I follow you on Networked Blogs under the name Lily Kwan.


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