Tuesday, October 10, 2023

Review: My Second Life by Simon Yeats

Genre: Autobiography


“We all have two lives. We only get to experience living in the second after we realize we only have just one.

I have my first real scare in life when I get attacked by a kangaroo when I am seven. My first brush with the cliff-face edge of death comes when I am 12. My dad drives the family down the dangerous Skipper’s Canyon dirt road in New Zealand in a rented minivan.

Including the occasion I am almost involved in two different flight crashes, in the same night, there have been at least a half dozen more occasions when I have been within a moment’s inattention of being killed.

However, none of those frightening incidents compare to what I experienced after my son was abducted.

This memoir is the story of how I used the traumatic experiences of my life to give me strength to forge on during a 13-year fight to be a father to my son.

What did it take for me to get to my second life?

It took me to truly understand what fear is.”


Simon Yeats is a native of Australia who currently lives in the US. This is his first book which he says he wrote as “a way to manage his grief and pain.”


My thoughts on this book are all over the place, with some positive things and others not so much.

The title and the overriding concept of the book is, at least in theory, that life changes when you realize how fragile life is. At least the way I see it this means living and appreciating life now, not spending too much time positioning or aiming for some hopeful future. Whether the story makes that point for you or not will probably vary a lot from person to person. Having already had an experience that drove this home for me a while ago, I was already there before reading this. So this potential lesson wasn’t going to matter to me.

The book has several stories of life changing experiences (many, if not most, being potentially life ending) in the author’s life. While I wondered how one person could have this many such things happen to them, since I was just along for the ride, they were entertaining adventures to hear about. The author’s sense of humor shined through, for example when he described the number of people to die on Mt Washington in Vermont since they started keeping track as being 161  or “167 under the Metric System.” Sometimes he’d exaggerate a bit (for example claiming that one place was so cold that when it warmed up to -17 the locals would start considering playing water polo). These stories and basic biographical background made up what was roughly the first half of the book.

The second half of the book was primarily the story of the author’s marriage, the birth of his son, and divorce as well as his difficulty in being allowed to spend time with his son over the years since his birth. In fiction there is a concept that a reader has to “suspend disbelief” sometimes and depending on the genre and fictional world the amount of disbelief that has to be suspended can vary a lot. But this is sometimes still required even for stories that are taking place in contemporary times with normal people. For nonfiction, it isn’t normally needed in my experience, but I had to do that here. I also had to pretend it was fiction because putting myself in the author’s place if it wasn’t would be too painful. If you want to decide for yourself, give it a read.

Buy now from:            Amazon US        Amazon UK


Some adult language.

Format/Typo Issues:

A small number of proofing misses.

Rating: **** Four Stars

Reviewed by: BigAl

Approximate word count: 70-75,000 words

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