Review: Waiting for Pops by John Riffice

         Waiting for Pops: A Journey From Boy to Man
John Riffice; ebook,
Published October 27th 2010 by John Philip Riffice
Waiting For Pops, a mainstream biographical novel, is a tale of a young boy’s appalling mistreatment at the hands of his alcoholic mother. It is a tale of spousal secrets and parental lies. It is a tale of love, friendship, and, above all else, betrayal. Pops is seen through the eyes of an innocent boy growing steadily into manhood in 1950s Chicago. Johnny Ryba tells his story and transports the reader into his small, blue-collar existence—his mother’s alcoholism, his much-loved father’s sudden death in an auto accident, his beloved little sister’s autism. Later, as the reader accompanies Johnny into his teen years, they experience as well the painful heartbreak of his first love and loss. The storyline rapidly evolves and ultimately centers on a mystery that Johnny attempts to solve as a mature adult, resulting in a shocking revelation that reverses almost everything he once believed about his mother and father, as well as his own harrowing past. He inadvertently discovers his parents’ role as accomplices in a lifelong conspiracy of silence, and also becomes aware of a misplaced affection for his deceased father. Johnny must finally come to terms with the most important aspect of his life: the truth about his parents, and about himself, too.
Amazon on Waiting for Pops

Biographies are a double edged sword; I find that reading them leaves me with mixed feelings. There’s a special kind of beauty that only they can achieve, but it comes with the price of a special kind of sadness, too. The sort that only true life really brings you

I loved reading this book. I loved all the childhood and growing up moments, and I guess I liked the grown-up moments a little less. Not because they weren’t written well, quite the contrary. It’s a part of life that we never really grow to like, the irreconcilable gap between what we believed people to be when we were younger, and what they really turn out to be. Your heroes become simple human beings, with simple mindsets and ordinary issues and flaws. They’re just people, sometimes good people, sometimes sort of disappointing people. And the only heroes are the ones your kid sees, but they’ll turn into simple human beings too, when your kid grows up. It’s bittersweet on average, with highs and lows.

What biographies always bring me, aside the emotional roller-coaster, is the clear idea that it’s so easy to judge people. For their flaws, for their wrong-doings, especially when they affect us. It’s also easy to see what we want to be there, and not the whole picture; sometimes we focus on the good and act like there’s nothing else there, sometimes we focus on the bad and it seems that’s all there ever was.

This book was, for me, an emotional roller-coaster. I loved the highs, and felt hurt through the lows. It’s the puzzle of life, a brief but intense glimpse into bits and pieces that come together to form a new yet familiar whole. A beautifully told story of a boy that becomes a man, bringing forth what that entails. It’s a story about strength, and courage, and wisdom in the face of disappointment and hardship.

The characters were beautifully built and depicted, and the style of writing was very compelling, with a beautiful flavor of a fairytale, somehow. The plot was beautifully put together, and it felt incredibly real, and engaging. You’re that kid that grows up, you become that kid, that grown up, that mature person. It’s a beautiful, touching journey.

I say read it, if you like biographies. It’d be a shame not to, really.

Get it from

-ebook: $3.99

-paperback: $9.99
-ebook: $6.89 (with VAT&iwd)



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