"I was like a cyborg in that I looked and acted human, but inside I was just a calculating machine of manipulation."

The author’s book is both a soul-bearing memoir and a study of how childhood psychological trauma propels into motion a pattern of compulsive sexual behavior. Raised in a broken home with an occasionally drunk and subsequently abusive father—who died when the author was seven—and bullied by his family for years, Ross sets the stage to share an even greater trauma that led to his creation of alternate realities as coping mechanisms. The central action takes place during a family reunion to celebrate the 50th wedding anniversary of the author’s aunt and uncle. As the reunion gets underway, Ross proposes a game: he will tell personal stories about his past, and the participants must evaluate the percentage of truth contained in each, using evidence and prior knowledge to support their decisions. After the votes are tallied, family members debate the findings and are given a chance to revise their scores based on the input from others. When Ross discloses the correct percentage of truth per story, the reunion becomes unforgettable.

Accompanied by a song playlist that reflects central ideas of a given chapter or passage, Ross’s memoir illuminates a central irony of his story. While his lifelong duplicity may have suppressed his own pain, his behavior ultimately devastates all involved, including the author. At times, the storytelling during the reunion is reminiscent of the kinds of games Martha and George propose in Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? with Barney Stinson from How I Met Your Mother in the role of host. While the playlist might at first seem a distraction, it provides the book with additional heart and soul. Ross’s tale questions the possibility of sociopathic behavior among us and others as it encourages self-reflection and analysis. His book is both a fine accomplishment and an intriguing read.

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