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Review by African American Literature Book Club

The Monkeybars of Life

By Ted Pittman

The Monkeybars of Life salutes the dual notions of endurance and survival. The main character, Nate LaChae, who is blessed with an immensely gifted mind for things mechanical, plows ahead through all kinds of obstacles and challenges to realize his dream. Remembering his beloved mother's words that she would pray for him while he climbs those giant monkeybars of life, he allows nothing to stand in his way.

Early in his life, Nate is a dreamer and prodder. A hip nerd with moments of rebellion. His young life is filled with creativity, invention, and science projects. One project, a revolutionary engine, catches his fancy and it will not let him go.

Meanwhile, Nate endures all of the mistakes a young man makes. He likes the ladies, a variety of them, and they like him. But one lady, Eva, snares him early after he gets her pregnant. He is crazy about her and has children with her. However, she is bored with him and wants a more practical man. When they bust up, it is a bitter, harsh breakup with the court siding with her.

Throughout the novel, Nate knocks around, going from job to job, woman to woman. His project of developing the engine is first and foremost in his mind, so he attempts to raise funds to finance it with several software companies and high-tech firms. One company offers a $25,000 prize for the best suggestion, but complications prevent him from getting the award.

While Nate's journey takes him to Europe and back to the States, the author continues to focus everything on the main character, his strengths and weakness, his trials and triumphs. Sometimes Nate falls off the wagon by drinking too much. Sometimes he regrets that Eva and her mother have him powerless in the courts for lack of child support. Sometimes he makes bad decisions when he leaves his love, Beatrice, because she gives him an ultimatum of getting a divorce so she can marry him. Sometimes he has serious guilt such when his beloved mother goes into a coma. But one thing sustains him and that is his dream.

Through all of the novel's event-packed narrative, Nate survives the betrayals, the lawsuits, the counter suits, fraud, and larceny to realize his potential but falling short of his dream. He returns home to be the father that his children need and to fulfill his destiny. Believable, engaging, and inspirational, this novel about an uncommon man and his gift makes for an interesting read.