Alligator Suitcase Press (2015)
Reviewed by Sheri Hoyte for Reader Views (02/16)
In “The Best Feeling in the World,” first time author Steven DeGregorio, takes readers on delightful journey of growing up in a middle class family in suburban Rutherford, New Jersey. It is the author’s personal story, the middle child in this middle class family, growing up in the sixties and seventies. A time when kids played outside with the other kids in the neighborhood, entertaining themselves with sports, hide-and seek, and kick the can, the possibilities were endless. The self-declared kids of the “Mountain Way Gang” boisterously explored all the options in their search for fun and/or mischief on any given day.
A simpler time, perhaps? Not always, as DeGregorio, grows up witnessing some of this country’s biggest moments in history: Vietnam, the Kennedy and Martin Luther King assassinations, sending a man to the moon, and the birth of rock and roll. DeGregorio watches it all through the reflective eyes of a young boy, and is awakened to the harsh realities that not everyone or everything in life is good. Added to the world events, are all the personal foibles and lessons of a growing, easily influenced young boy, who wants love and acceptance as he finds his way through life. From a naïve boy, through puberty and adolescence, DeGregorio makes some tough decisions, and messes some things up along the way. Some of these decisions help to ease the growing pains, while others change the course of his life forever.
“The Best Feeling in the World” is a highly entertaining coming of age story that I found to be so refreshing. The writing style of DeGregorio is such that I could easily imagine myself growing up in the era. Each one of the chapters is a different story, a childhood memory, and the memories combine to form an impressive tale of self-discovery and personal growth. I laughed out loud as he discovered some of the more intricate functions of the male anatomy – the writing is truly hilarious! It wasn’t all fun and games though, and my heart ached as DeGregorio went through some difficult times in high school. Dealing with bullies, popularity contests, it certainly stirred up some personal memories.
I highly recommend “The Best Feeling in the World “by Steven DeGregorio to all generations of readers. Folks that grew up in the same era will delight in the memories it stirs, and kids growing up in today’s high-tech world will learn some valuable lessons. Great story!