Paul R. Tomko’s Freedom for Granted is a folksy collection of 30 stories to motivate, educate, and inspire readers to think more deeply about how to make every day of lives worthwhile.
Paul Tomko is radically honest with his readers. He explains how he was sentenced to 126 months in federal prison for financial crimes, struggled with drug addiction, disappointed the people who loved him the most, and lives with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. He uses his experiences, mostly in prison, to explore familiar topics, such as struggling with change, finding common ground during tense confrontations, or the benefits of focusing on the positive.
The book offers short lessons for readers on how to improve their lives by many methods, such as thinking outside the box (“Removing Our Cuffs”), recognizing and rejecting the temptation to do wrong (“Selling My Soul to the Devil”), or knowing the difference between leading and manipulating (“Checkmate!”). Line drawings executed in 1950s style open each chapter, along with Bible quotes. Tomko closes the lessons with an earnest, easily digestible moral and support quotes from Maya Angelou, Tony Robbins, and a variety of other contemporary thought leaders.
Tomko is not a word stylist, and grammatical errors abound. This and its dated cartoons and multitude of quotations, can make the book seem amateurish. But to look beneath the surface is to acknowledge that its appeal and power are real.
The author is completely open, generous, fair, and forgiving. The role models he uses to explore how to live in love are people on the margins. Their stories of kindness in the worst of circumstances are moving; their examples and the author’s hard-won wisdom are an inspiration to anyone who has made a mess of life.
While more narrative polish would enhance the book, Freedom for Granted should appeal to anyone able to see and forgive the flaws that have caused them trouble and who is willing to accept a hand to recover.