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Bill Berry
Stories That Move
Bill Berry, author

"Stories That Move” is a collection of compelling, raw tales that document the author’s journey through childhood bullying, harsh family dynamics, near death experiences, and heart pumping adventure. From the first page to the last, you’ll be drawn into the human experience at a depth few authors are able to traverse. And in so doing, you'll discover things about yourself.

Berry, a professional sword-swallower, juggler, and yoga instructor, shares surprising anecdotes from his life, ranging from harrowing accounts of being bullied in his childhood to bold endeavors as an adult, like surfing 21-foot waves and intervening to stop a rape. The stories absolutely move, as the title suggests, each carrying a message or meaning that he took from them, from lessons about how to cope with being abused, to coping with grief after the loss of the beloved cat Whiskey (introduced as “just a dark-furred little girl alone in the world”), to knowing when it's time to take decisive action in order to help others. A number of the stories focus on his difficult childhood, as his brothers frequently terrorized him despite his wanting to love them. His father, despite being loving in many ways (as shown in helping him build a go-kart), was also depicted as physically violent. One story where Berry fought back is especially disturbing.

Berry’s philosophical, instructive, and humanistic messages leaven the themes of death and violence, as he recounts learning from a young age that it's not always possible to save the ones you love. He also learns that bullies look for easy prey—and the urgency of protecting yourself, a skill he quickly developed. As an adult, he writes about subjects ranging from unique forms of revenge on kids pestering him to a near-death but exhilarating experience as a surfer. Brushes with death and violence persist, like in a terrifying story of a bloody fight with his girlfriend's drunken, murderous father, told with polish, power, and welcome insight.

He concludes with a story about helping out at the scene of a car accident, discussing the other helpers, and finally revealing that everyone there was of a different race and background. For a moment, everyone there was "humans and nothing more." That’s Berry's message: when we treat each other with compassion, as humans, we're capable of great kindness. When we treat each other as things to be used, violence usually follows.

Takeaway: Humane, harrowing stories of a life facing violence and danger.

Comparable Titles: R. Layla Salek’s Chaos in Color, Lee Smith’s Dimestore.

Production grades
Cover: A-
Design and typography: A
Illustrations: N/A
Editing: A-
Marketing copy: A