Book Review: The Wisdom to Know the Difference By Leesa Freeman

Todd Randall spent his life pushing the limits: stealing a pack of cigarettes and a beer and coming home smelling like tobacco and cheap beer, “borrowing” his father’s car, usually to screw the girls in the backseat; snorting lines of OxyContin after a knee injury on the football field, eventually landing in rehab at the age of seventeen. Now he spends his day in his uncle’s auto body shop, struggling to stay clean, and refusing to get close to anyone because he fears he is unfit for human consumption.

When he meets Shawna Clifton, for the first time begins to see himself differently, and even though it scares the hell out of him, he feels compelled to reach for the life she offers. But when Shawna loses a pregnancy she never thought she’d have, they are left with a choice: risking their heart for the unknown, or staying safe and simply getting by.

A touching, sometimes heartbreaking tale, The Wisdom to Know the Difference, is the unforgettable story of one man’s desire to accept his mistakes, find the courage to allow himself to truly love, and finally become the person he so wants to be.

I enjoyed this 25 chapter book. It was told through Todd’s first person point-of-view. It was a refreshing change to get only a guy’s perspective on love, relationships, and breakups. The author had an amazing talent with voice. The narration, Todd’s dialogue and thoughts, his interactions never trailed from a college guy, who was fighting addiction, who treated every girl as a piece of meat or a booty call until he met Shawna. The cussing, oogling of women’s parts, and masturbation didn’t offend me. I thought it was a realistic portrayal of how a young, immature, horny, man’s man would act.

My favorite lines were: 1) There’s a reason addicts are almost forbidden from getting involved in a relationship during their first year of sobriety–we’re a damn mess. 2) No matter how impossible it seemed for her to even want to be with me, in that moment I knew with absolute certainty I could love her. 3) Without a word, I stood and went to the bathroom where I turned on the faucet so they couldn’t hear me wrestling with the fact that somehow she had moved on, and I was still stuck in the five minutes after she’d asked me to leave in despite the months that had passed. 4) While I was shaving, he gave me the version of the birds and bees–it wasn’t pretty.

Leesa Freeman should be very proud of her debut novel. It was engaging, plus drama filled. I appreciated getting to see Todd deal with his friends, his family, and I liked the insight into his work life. All the characters felt very real, and it broke my heart to see his friends and family deal with Todd when he went into self-destructive mode because he was in so much pain over the breakup. I loved that they stood by his side, no questions asked.

  • As a reader, I was invested in Todd and Shawna’s relationship. After their breakup, I couldn’t wait to see the aftermath. My expectations and what was written was completely different. I wanted to see him try and win her back, to focus on how much it hurt to lose the baby. Instead, he pined over another girl–I’m assuming to show Todd was in denial and wanted to settle, too afraid to fight for what he wanted. But I just thought this section took too long (just my opinion). By the time, Shawna entered the picture again, I debated whether Todd was really in love with her. Was it love? Addiction to love? In love with the idea of being in love? Lust?

My favorite scenes: 1) Todd just finished posing for art class and Shawna approaches him to work for a famous photographer 2) at a football game, Todd stands up for his brother against their uncle 3) the breakup scene 4) in the dark room with Todd, Allison, and Shawna 4) Todd’s intervention with his roommate, AA sponsor, and his roommate’s girlfriend.

I RECOMMEND this book to read.

For more information on the author or book:

Keep smiling,

Yawatta Hosby

One thought on “Book Review: The Wisdom to Know the Difference By Leesa Freeman

  1. Pingback: Review for The Wisdom to Know the Difference from | Voices & Verbs

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