This is Jim Hart's story: how he survived a violent childhood home, how he overcame obsessive dependencies, and how he finally found the strength to be his true self.
A master at building relationships, Jim is charming, funny, and a great listener. His success in life and business was based on his ability to connect with others, from people recovering in 12-step groups in upstate New York to those living in the rarefied air of Martha's Vineyard. But after more than 20 years of being sober, one slip-up triggered an active addiction that threatened his relationships with his then-wife, singer-songwriter Carly Simon; his recovery friends; his severely disabled son; and - as he began to confront his own sexuality - even with himself. With profound clarity and thoughtful language, Jim weaves together the beautiful and all-too-often heartbreaking events of his life into an inspiring tale of bravery, healing, and, above all, love.
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A must read
I found this book very good, and even important. There are a lot of books about difficult childhoods, addiction, relationships, sexual identity confusion, broken relationships and intense life challenges. Most such books are fatally flawed by lacks in perspective, honesty, and humanity. This book is brutally honest, with deep introspection, astoundingly wide perspective, responsibility, and forgiveness. This book has continued to resonate in my brain long after I finished the book.
I think every young adult should read this book as it teaches a lot that you won't learn elsewhere. About addiction, insidious self deception, cascades of lies, complexities of relationships, self respect, responsibility, and taking back one's life. I found this writing beautiful and inspiring. The very best thing about the book is the title...Lucky Jim...but only after you read the book.
I highly recommend you don't read this book if you are considering it because you are a Carly Simon fan, and want to learn more about her. That is definitely not what this book is about, and a number of the bad reviews of this book seem to come from very disappointed Carly Simon fans.
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- Chris R
A heartfelt examination of a man's life
What made the experience of listening to Lucky Jim the most enjoyable?
His candor and honest self-appraisal as he sees it.
Who was your favorite character and why?
The author. He had a lot to say and didn't pull punches.
Did Pete Cross do a good job differentiating all the characters? How?
Pete did a good job narrating and differentiating, but, and this is subjective, I couldn't picture Jim Hart in my mind.
Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?
Any additional comments?
Well written book, a cri de coeur. Jim's going inward and examining who he is and who he is becoming was not an easy write, nor done to garner sympathy. What he found out about himself in his life experiences and how he shared about this marks a courageous man. I also found that recovery... even after some 21 yrs is fragile. Also, once again it is pointed out to me the road to perdition via opioids is much easier for some than others. Finally, the old saw about an "unexamined life" once again demands attention. One's life can be examined, but one needs do this w/a deep degree of honesty and an understanding that this examination is a continuous endeavor. In analyzing life, feelings must be recognized, examined, felt, articulated... even prayed over before being acted upon. Jim shows this and articulates it well. He has learned a great deal about himself and relationships; I felt this book was really more an ongoing chapter in his life and more, much more will continue to be revealed.
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Was headed for five stars until it abruptly ended
Jimmy Hart was a childhood friend of mine. We graduated Long Beach Catholic School together in 1964. We played basketball in the parish hall at St. Mary of the Isle Church. He has been at my house and I have been at his. We pretty much parted ways after elementary school. My recollection is that he wanted to be a priest and I had no idea what I wanted to be, except maybe 14 years old. We reconnected via emails somewhere around 2010 and traded a few. Since then we have occasionally communicated on Facebook timelines. One of the few sayings I have concocted (and maybe others have too) is "if you used to be my friend, you probably never were. Today I consider Jim Hart my friend.
I enjoyed hearing Jim talk about things we had in common. He talks about the house on Kentucky Street. That would have made him a West Ender. I was friendly with Jim when he lived in a "penthouse" on Riverside Boulevard and a house on East Market Street. That made him an East Ender. Then he moved to an apartment in the next town (Island Park).
I remember Jim's older brother, Larry. In the book he calls him Danny. My guess is that since his brother shared the same name as their dad, the family might have called him by a middle name. I also remember Larry had a wicked left-handed set shot from the corner. Pretty accurate for a guy with eyesight in one eye only.
I vividly remember Jim's mother and was pleased to learn her favorite song was one of my favorite songs (Young at Heart). I think she gave birth to Jim's younger sister somewhere around the time we went our separate ways. I have no recollection of Jim's father.
I mention some of these things only because others who knew Jim at the time might like to recollect their connection with him. He, also, used to sing in the choir at St. Mary's (Jim mentions St. Ignatius Martyr Church) and my grandmother adored his singing voice. If Jimmy was going to be there singing "O Lord I am Not Worthy," my grandmother would also be there. My younger (by six years) sister had a crush on him too.
Usually I use this term in jest but, to me, his book was genuinely "riveting." Forget that knowing Jim gives me two degrees of separation from Carly Simon, Bill Clinton, Jackie Kennedy, Mike Nichols, Harrison Ford, James Taylor, Henry Kissinger and a host of others, his story recounts extreme and disjointed behaviors making it difficult to comprehend they all belonged to the same guy.
His love and affection for his son, Eamon, remained strong and a primary focus throughout Eamon's life. As the father of a teenage daughter, I can't imagine what it's like to lose a child. And that brings me to the one criticism I have of Jim's book.
It pretty much ended in 2009. I can understand why he chose to end it there, but it left me wanting to know more. Jim alluded to his life after Eamon's death but he was short on details. When I heard the music begin to play and the narrator begin to say "We hope you have enjoyed this recording ..." I thought the recording had skipped, but I don't think it had. I asked myself if I actually had been listening for 9+ hours. The book (when published) missed the last eight years of Jim's life. Maybe there will be a Part Two.
You don't have to be a childhood friend of Jim Hart to enjoy this book. It's a rocky ride but one that tells so many divergent stories that readers/listeners will find a lesson or lessons to be learned on the trip.
Sorry I didn't give you five stars, Jim. But, my friend, you earned every one of the other four.
Postscript: I think I heard Jim talk about who Jackie Kennedy thought was the sexiest man alive but, unless we were supposed to understand it was Alec Baldwin, I don't think he ever told us. Who was he, Jim?
- JUDY HENSCHEID
I didn’t want it to end! Beautiful but sad. Great insight into a life situation.
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