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Posted June 28, 2013
Entertaining Read. Becoming a Superhero was a coming-of-age tale about a drifting young man from a military family lost in a mire of gambling, prostitutes, and depression. It was also a humorous telling about the whims of peer pressure and finding a memorable psychologist. The duality made for an entertaining read.
The story centered on young Oliver, who convinced himself early on that he was a budding superhero like what he saw in movies and comic books. But reality showed he was instead an awkward nerd, and his family’s frequent moves made it difficult to keep friends. Cultural differences, and his parent’s meager finances, created misunderstandings with everyone. Oliver tried a military career like his father, but did not stay. Then came life’s real temptations.
Becoming a Superhero described many places where Oliver tasted the fun of life (having a lovely girlfriend with a French accent, a winning night at Blackjack, landing a high-paying job), then immersed himself to excess. He abandoned girlfriends and instead frequented prostitutes. Recreational card playing turned to gambling addiction. The job no longer supported his indulgences, and Oliver racked up credit card debt and bankruptcies.
A refreshing voice entered Oliver’s life–a new psychologist. They discussed Oliver’s superhero yearnings. There was a way out of the well that Oliver kept falling into. After the journey through this superhero wannabe’s life, we learned what this young guy really wanted-and he was a superhero all along.
Posted May 1, 2013
Reviewed by Janessa, age 15, for City Book Review
Being a military “brat,” I could easily identify with Oliver, although my own life has been a lot different than his own experiences; being the child of a service member who is gone a lot, moving every few years, changing schools as often as eleven times before graduating, and learning to cope with the emotions that you tow around can be daunting.
“If you ever join the military, then become an officer. Don’t be enlisted like me.”
I can truly relate to his own personal and emotional struggles; however, thankfully I have very loving parents who are not overbearing and strict, and nurture us lovingly. While I found this book to be an exhilarating read, I did find that the style of writing on the page was unique but it works fluidly as Galang tells his personal story as a Filipino from his early youth in America, living in Panama, his struggles with gambling, depression, prostitution, and his overbearing parents that didn't help ease the fact he was a military child and can’t be lumped into the general populous of “average American children.” But he finally realizes that this entire time the superhero he was seeking to save him was himself all along.
*You can view the original review at City Book Review
Posted March 14, 2013
I had a hard time getting into this book and an even more difficult time making myself finish it. This is the autobiography of a young man that details his childhood and his early adulthood. Maybe I had a hard time enjoying Becoming a Superhero because I am an older woman who doesn't share the same frame or reference as the author. The most enjoyable parts of the book were the anecdotes from the writer's childhood as a military brat who lived abroad and in California while his father was employed as a military cook. Some of his escapades were hilariously typical of a silly little boy. The parts that I enjoyed the least were those that detailed his gambling and playing musical chairs with women. I did like that his journey led him to a good psychologist who helped him discover how his childhood goal of becoming a superhero had affected his life and relationships, but when I finished the book, I found myself liking the author very little and respecting his life choices even less.
Posted January 13, 2013
Becoming a Superhero, by Oliver Galang, is based on the authors life. Though it is a funny story, it touches on the serious topic of addiction. Growing up, Oliver dreamed of one day becoming a superhero, instead of the nerdy little boy who gets bullied and picked on at school. He has this idea that if he is able to one day save the world that he would be respected by everyone instead. Oliver's dream follows him into his adult life, where he even goes as far as to spend hundreds of dollars on a superhero costume. Olivers life turned into a series of gambling debts where he got into counting cards, along with episodes of stip joints where he blew through money just for the attention of women (even if they were strippers). In order to be able to afford these addictions, Oliver maxes out credit cards and borrows more money than he can afford to pay back, leading him to bankruptcy! At teh age of 35, Oliver's psychologist is able to give Oliver a wake up call that brings him into his recovery from life! Though Oliver may not be a superhero in the sense of superman or batman he comes across as one in a different way by having the courage to tell his story to the world.
I have to say that I loved Oliver's story. Not only do you get to see him spiral out of control, but you get to see how he recovers and rebuilds his life. Oliver's story is one that will take you from his lowest low, to his new high! Though I do not usually read this type of book, I found it refreshing to read something different. I honestly would recommend this book to anyone who just wants a good story because Oliver's is definitely one worth reading.
Posted January 2, 2013
I'm generally a fan of biographies and stories where the author fictionalizes something to which I can relate. I was drawn to this story because it was the story of a person overcoming his past to become someone respected by others. I admit that I know very little about Filipino upbringing and was amused by the anecdotes the author shared about how his mother ran the household and what it was like growing up as the only boy in a household full of women.
His discussion of comic book characters and how he, as a superhero would fit in, was enjoyable. As in most coming of age/ self-improvement stories, he has a dark period, but eventually sees the error of his ways in his self-destructive tendencies and becomes a (super) man for it.
The story was a very slow read. I kept putting it down because while I liked the subject matter, the author jumps from the main storyline to the past and other timelines which made it hard to read more than a few pages at a time. The formatting on the iPad was also awful which really detracted from reading. It was every other line and only went about 3/4 the way across the page, so instead of being the 284 pages it said it is, it was 586 on my iPad.
Posted December 22, 2012
Oliver was one of 4 children born to parents from the Philippines. He was lucky to be born in the United States, or was it more unlucky? He was also a military brat, as his father was proud to be in the US Navy, even if he was only a cook.
All Oliver’s life he was never the most popular, in fact, he was usually considered the nerd. But all his life he wanted to be a superhero and help people. Knowing he was not born with any superpowers, he likened himself to Batman, having to work hard to become a superhero.
His parents loved him and wanted only the best for him, as well as his sisters. Moving from one base to another, he never really made friends, but the relationships with his sisters was like any sibling relationships, some closer than others, but always together no matter where they traveled.
As Oliver grew older, he was determined to work out to build his body strength on his way to becoming a superhero. Unfortunately, he always seemed to make the wrong choices, or choices that would irk his parents, although he did attend college and did get a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Management. But he never put his business sense to good work. Instead he did not succeed well in his jobs, but found gambling was very profitable, and watching strippers was something he loved to spend his money on.
His life continues in the same pattern, gambling and strippers, and bad relationships. Seems like some people never grow up. Sad to think it’s based on a true story.
Very nice detail of the family and their relationships, along with nice detail of where they were stationed. Interesting mix of characters along his life, from bullies to strippers to shrinks. The story flows along nicely from his early years on through his life.
My one complaint is the conversion from print form to Kindle. It is very annoying to continually have page numbers from the printed version intertwined with the Kindle text.