Review by: KEN KORCZAK
This is a book that reads like a classic Greek tragedy.
But not all Greek tragedies end in despair and disaster. Sometimes they result in what the ancients called a “catharsis” – and a catharsis can bring healing, hope and understanding.
As it happens, the author is a Greek-Cypriot. Greek was his first language. STEVE PETROU immigrated to England and established himself there as a successful owner and operator of a fish-n-chips shop, what the Brits call a “Chippy”.
His wife Vaso is also Greek-Cypriot. After falling blissfully in love and marrying, the two soul mates set out to complete the perfect picture of their lives by producing children – and that’s where the odyssey of the Petrou Clan begins.
Vaso was unable to get pregnant naturally. After years of suffering, the desperate couple opts to try IVF – In Vitro Fertilization. Anyone who thinks this is always a simple, clinical process that just sort of “zaps” a healthy fetus into a woman’s womb will be well-informed here about the potential pitfalls and enormous challenges that can result from the IVF process.
The couple’s experience was a nightmare of such monumental proportions it seems a miracle they persisted through three arduous trials of IVF before finally achieving success.
You can read all about the incredible journey of battling infertility in the author’s first book – All I Ever Wanted to Be Called Was Mom. In this follow up, and as the title implies – I Only Wanted To Be A Dad – you are going to get much of the same story, but this time focused through the eyes, mind and experiences of a father – and it’s important to say this – a male – a man!
Yes, having babies and then raising children is not 100% “woman stuff.” The man may perform just 1/1000 of what a woman does in the physical process to create a new life – but ahhhh – his role is still vital, integral and a lifetime commitment.
In these pages, Steve Petrou brings remarkable insight to the critical role the father/man/figure plays in the real-life drama of bringing children into the world, especially when that process takes extraordinary measures.
FROM “CHIPPY” TO “AUTHOR”
In my review of the first book I noted that it read like it was written by a person who was a professional fish-n-chips man first and a writer second.
But just a few pages into I Only Wanted To Be A Dad, I was amazed at how vastly the writing had improved. I think it should be recognized that in between the first and second book Steve Petrou evolved from “Chippy” to bona fide “Author.”
The first book was a powerful read because of the story and content. This book is just as powerful, but we get the added benefit of reading the prose of a man who is coming into his own as a skilled writer.
Indeed, in telling a true story, the narration takes on the riveting quality of a thrilling work of fiction. Consider this paragraph as the author accompanies his wife as she is being wheeled into surgery for a dangerous C-Section operation:
“Walking down that long corridor, expecting death to meet you as soon as that door opens, make your legs tremble. You do not want that walk to continue, wishing you could go back into the room where you felt safe. You are scared, want to cry and scream because deep down in your heart you know that if you enter through that door, you will lose everything. You think you are screaming, asking them to stop, but not a sound leaves your mouth. The distance between you and that damned door keeps getting shorter.”
That’s a compelling passage and there’s a lot more where that came from.
This is certainly a book that will help an uncounted number of people because of the insight it offers in dealing with the agonizing condition of infertility which a growing part of the world population is confronting every day.
But also, this book serves as a kind of Man’s Manifesto, in that, it lays out a viewpoint and philosophy for the modern male in our society who aspires to be the best father, family man, husband and care giver he can be.
The view offered is an appeal for compassion, understanding and an encouragement for men to make a brutally frank and blunt self-examination — and then strive to be the best kind of man one can hope to become – keeping in mind that none are perfect and that we should all expect to learn lessons from bad mistakes we will inevitably make along the way.
I found this book to be an extraordinary narrative on many levels. Every man should read it, married or unmarried, father or childless, young or old.
NOTE: You can read my review of this author’s first book HERE.
Ken Korczak is a former newspaper reporter, government information officer, served as an advocate for homeless people as a VISTA Volunteer, and taught journalism at the University of North Dakota for five years. He is the author of: BIRD BRAIN GENIUS
All NEW: KEN’S BOOK REVIEW SITE ON FACEBOOK: REMOTE BOOK REVIEWING