“Choose Your Friends, Choose Your Life” by Debbie Mancuso and Preston Young

Choose Your Friends, Choose Your Life: Confessions of a Married Man

Debbie Mancuso and Preston Young
Independently Published (2021)
ISBN 978-0998973241
Reviewed by Jill Rey for Reader Views (7/2021)

“Choose Your Friends, Choose Your Life” reads as if you are sitting down at Preston’s favorite Italian restaurant, conversing about the direction life has taken him, beginning from birth to starting over again in his 70s. 

Preston Young lost his father at a young age, and given their closeness, his mother decided it was best he didn’t attend the funeral. The lack of closure this decision provided launched him into a rebellious childhood. From being sent to a reform school, to a series of bad decisions that ultimately led to spending nearly a decade in jail, in his 70s no less. Young’s story is anything but boring. No stone is left unturned as he walks readers through his life, his loves and his decisions. All is laid bare for readers to soak up, like garlic bread to spaghetti sauce. 

As the title implies, choosing your friends can determine the course of your life, and as a self-described extravert, Preston never seemed to be lacking in the company of both male and female friends. Memoirs, in particular, add a level of complexity to authors as they require unique and engaging life stories and events to hook readers onto the pages. It is a niche area of writing, as authors must quickly ensnare readers to their story before working their way through the timeline. However, Young and Mancuso succeed in telling their story, opening with a 70-year-old behind bars. We are quickly taken back to 1939 as events begin to slowly unravel on the path to imprisonment. 

Young was particularly vulnerable in the writing of this book. He was not afraid to expose his weaknesses, as honesty was always paramount in bearing all to his readers. He didn’t shy from telling of his own infidelity and the anger towards his own wife when she did the same. However, despite beginning at the author’s birth in 1939 and proceeding in relative linearity, it felt as if suddenly we were 25 years into a marriage without much acknowledgement of the years and how many had truly passed. Time passed quickly as this book flew by, soaking in the stories and I was left craving some real Italian food given “Choose Your Friends, Choose Your Life” was rich with stories of the Italian countryside and culture embedded in his life.

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