In this follow-up to Fantastic Failures (2018), Reynolds shares stories of more people who found their way to success after failure.
The names are famous—Barack Obama, Beyoncé Knowles, Greta Thunberg—and not so famous—like social worker and philanthropist Alan Naiman, and inventor of Kevlar, Stephanie Kwolek. They are diverse in age, gender, nationality, ethnicity, and the areas of their passions, but they all have one thing in common: They achieved and excelled only after intense, often prolonged, rejection, pain, confusion, difficulty, and/or discouragement. Reynolds uses the engaging technique of hooking readers by opening each profile with a paragraph that describes an easy, predictable climb to the top, written in the familiar tone of many puff pieces. He then follows this fictional, idealistic story with the real one. This pattern helps readers see that stories of easy success are much less interesting and impressive than tales of hard-won glory. Toward the end of each story, Reynolds addresses readers with thoughtful advice based on the life in question, encouraging them to see difficulties and detours as steppingstones on their paths to their purposes. The chapters are adorned with black-and-white portraits of each individual, tiny sidebars highlighting additional personalities, and separate, pagelong sections called “The Flop Files” with still more examples. A list of questions at the end encourages readers to think deeply about intrinsic motivation, core values, and big dreams.
Directly and humorously written, this volume will cultivate a growth mindset. (Nonfiction. 8-14)
– Kirkus Reviews, August 1, 2020