"We can all make an effort to improve ourselves in some way or another so don’t hold back when certain opportunities arise or confront you."

Australian Daniel has composed an intriguing collection of fifteen cautionary tales. Each short offering focuses upon one or more of life’s pitfalls. Every story is followed by questions created to help readers understand the problems faced by the story’s protagonist, while also providing the key to overcoming a similar obstacle should it exist in one’s own life. For example, in answering the questions following a simple narrative about a reckless, self-centered youth, one discovers a blueprint for conquering foolhardiness and egoism.

The author’s stated purposes for writing these stories and questions are to get teenagers and young adults to read a variety of themes and topics and understand what they have read. He also seems to want his readers to use this fresh knowledge to improve one or more conditions in their lives. But make no mistake; Daniel is not sermonizing. He makes his case for personal betterment with a velvet glove and not a sledgehammer.

A football player with more brains than talent, an anxious performance diva, a guiltless home wrecker, an Olympic pole vaulter, and a modern-day Scrooge are some of the characters presented. Each shines in this diverse anthology that exposes and examines major human shortcomings such as insecurity, pride, greed, lust, revenge, sloth, envy, gluttony, alcoholism, and wrath. If answered honestly, and then reflected and acted upon, the questions provide readers with a road map for eliminating such flaws. The title notwithstanding, one need not be a teen or young adult to benefit from the wisdom between these covers. While the sentence structure reflects the Australian vernacular, the perhaps unfamiliar phraseology does not undercut or dilute this book’s raw power. Ultimately, this is an important self-help tome masquerading as a slim volume of adolescent fiction.

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