The Jukebox of Life by George Wallace-Barnhill
Renowned therapist George L. Wallace-Barnhill looks back on his greatest joys and inner demons in the memoir The Jukebox of Life. The story begins in post-World War II Pennsylvania as the author seeks the love his father and overcomes an embarrassing personality disorder. With new experiences comes a new perspective, and George finds his calling on the tracks of Altoona all the way to Penn State. However, once the sporting life concludes, the hurler must stop in mid-stride to confront the mental blocks holding him back from the ultimate prize: happiness.
The Jukebox of Life improves with each inspirational yet heartbreaking chapter. Barnhill’s conversational style makes for a quick read, although the language becomes fluffy throughout with a multitude of exclamation points. The punctuation ultimately lies in the author’s stories, and the happy-go-lucky tone could have been toned down with more focus on the grammar. Incidentally, the who’s and why’s of the middle sections end abruptly with Barnhill identifying individuals and quickly moving on. His marriages are only briefly noted, which doesn’t completely round out the narrative of a man struggling with the relationships dilemmas created by his parents. The memoir feels like it was written specifically for someone, with the final chapters addressing a broader audience. Overall, Barnhill’s story can (and will) provide support to individuals struggling to overcome the odds and help identify the sweet sounds of the jukebox of life.