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Kirkus Review

A plainspoken memoir by an American ex-soldier, meteorologist, father, and recovering addict who overcomes challenges and gains insights while on a quest to find inner peace.

In his debut, Washington works to weave his varied experiences into a statement of his personal philosophy, which is made clear in the first line: "I believe the foundation of peace is having a positive outlook on life." The rest of this short but comprehensive work explores Washington's efforts to practice this positivity throughout the ups and downs of his life, from childhood to the present.

His military service, his career in meteorology, his Christian faith, and his times spent in New York City and St. Louis all play important parts of the story. But these all pale in comparison to the two most engaging segments: an account of Washington's relationship with his son, and another about his struggle with crack cocaine. The former is an emotional story of the author's growth from a boy, who became a father at 17, to a man, who's been made wise by tragedy. The latter is a strong, if more conventionally told, addiction memoir that brims with honesty, it also makes a narrative digression, briefly telling the author's tale from his wife's point of view, which comes as a welcome breath of fresh air. In its best moments, however, Washington offers a compelling read about his darkest struggles.

BlueInk Review

In Living in Peace While Living in Pieces, Michael J. Washington shares strategies for keeping calm during the storms of life

Washington's aim in chronicling his live is to reveal how having a positive attitude, extending grace to others, and placing faith in Jesus Christ fosters peace in any circumstance. He is sufficient familiar with "The bad and ugly tremors of life that no one wants":  The African-American author climbed the corporate ladder with the weight of racial discrimination tied to his ankles, buried a young son he abandoned as an infant, watched his dreams of being a musician wither, and battled an addiction to crack cocaine. Yet, through it all, Washington managed to retain inner peace.

One of the greatest assets of this memoir is Washington's transparency. He openly admits his faults, such as refusing to take responsibility for an unwanted child when he was 18, and lays bare the twisted thoughts of his once-addicted mind. This renders the book inspiring rather than preachy. His frank discussion of encounters with racism and his consistently humble attitude towards others enhances the narrative.

After a lifetime of struggle, a full career in meteorology, 40 years of marriage, and raising three successful children, Washington has earned the right to pass on his wisdom. Christians, addicts, and the African-American community especially will appreciate this unfiltered look at life, forgiveness, perseverance, and faith.

Clarion Review - Ella Vincent

This memoir shows how peace can come even through difficult situations

Living in Peace While Living in Pieces is a moving memoir by Michael J. Washington about how me moved from trauma to triumph in his life. The book is a mixture of autobiography and self-help and is entertaining and inspiring throughout. Washington tells his story of growing up near the public housing projects of St. Louis in a middle-class household, and of serving in the Navy. He became a happily married man and had a promising career. However, he destroyed his idyllic life by succumbing to alcohol and drug addiction. He relates how he overcame those addictions with the help of his wife and because of his faith in God, working to become a successful adjunct professor.

Washington writes effectively and clearly about how his life changed because of his poor choices. He describes how he lost control of his life, but regained it by becoming more spiritual and by being more attentive to his wife and family. His personal anecdotes about dealing with the death of his estranged son and being in the grips of substance abuse add depth to his self-help message about relying on faith, accepting responsibility, and reaching out to the family to deal with trauma. Washington includes sayings and phrases that have a self-help tinge, such as "peace intruders" to label the people who block others' paths to self-fulfillment.

While Washington isn't a substance abuse counselor and cautions that the opinions in the book are his own, there are still useful messages about honesty and personal responsibility. In this strong work about conquering substance abuse and other life challenges, Washington shows how peace can come even through difficult situations.


A Great Resource Tool for All

An excellent read filled with love, honesty, humility, transparency, self-awareness, and so much more. The author relayed a consistent and clear message stating how we respond to life's challenges is solely up to each individual. We have a choice whether or not to receive His (God's) peace, which is freely given. My summation after reading "Living in Peace While Living in Pieces: A Memoir" is:  It is wise to surrender and choose peace as the challenges (pieces) we experience on earth will always be.

Joan N.

Memoir of a drug addiction and release

Washington's memoir is a good example of the importance of having a positive attitude. He shares his ups and downs and how he has managed to come to a life of peace. He accepted Jesus as Savior when a child but made bad decisions later in life. He was sexually promiscuous when young and fathered a son out of wedlock. He began drinking alcohol while still a teen and later in life became addicted to drugs. It almost destroyed his family but he ultimately found release from his drug addiction through the prayers of a small group he was in. My favorite part of the book was actually the chapter by his wife, sharing her thoughts on the turbulent times in their marriage and how God encouraged her.

This memoir is written sort of topically rather than chronologically. I noticed some repetition as the same experience was shared in different contexts. Washington does a good job in describing his experiences while addicted to drugs. I really got a sense of the force of the addiction on his life. A later chapter was about his career. I wish he would have explained how me maintained a career while regularly doing drugs. Those topics were in separate chapters and the material did not overlap.

Washington's book is a good example of how a person who has been overwhelmed with bad choices can ultimately rise above and have a peaceful life. He was not able to conquer his addiction on his own, so it shows the importance of having people willing to help him and pray for him.

I received a complimentary digital copy of this book through Authors Large and Small. My comments are an independent and honest review.

Mark G. Bradley

Good stories about life

Folks, I completed the book yesterday. You had better get yourself ready; Mike & Dr. Glenda are unplugged! Great book. It was intelligently written, crafted with maturity, spiritually intense, yet unashamedly honest.