"For the first time in his life, Steve had a true sense of family."

Steve Chapla is just like many middle-class American men: hard-working, a skilled laborer, a U.S. Army veteran, a father. Yet, Steve’s quest for a sense of belonging, of family, has defined him all his life. Steve has had a variety of hardships and adventures—being orphaned from his immigrant family at a young age, being drafted and injured in World War II, and, finally, starting a family of his own and building a business. An engrossing, well-written read, this book by Steve’s daughter acts as part family history, part biography. Well-researched and using sources such as family letters and photos, oral history, legal documents, and news clipping, the author details Steve’s various journeys and paints a picture of a kind man with an appetite for life—but one who also suffers from loneliness.

The book does a great job of characterizing Steve, and although there are mentions in passing of his cynicism, depression, and anger, the book primarily paints him in a positive light. The largest portion of the book focuses on Steve’s time in the military, and the majority of passages from Steve’s letters and memoirs are featured in this middle section. Here the reader can see how military life affected Steve and his already cynical outlook on life. The author also stresses Steve’s immigrant family roots, specifically the hardships his mother faced and legal troubles she had while living in Indiana. Steve’s early years are important and give context as to why he had difficulties connecting to a home life. The author does an excellent job of bringing the story full circle by closing the biography on her father’s trip to Poland to reconnect with his roots, giving it a poignant ending.

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