The Art of Family Science

Mister B - Living with a 98 Year-old Rocket Scientist (Capture Books: 2016) by A. Lynn Byk landed in my mailbox a week ago. I agreed to review it for Crash Books. The 340-pager looked good online and in my hands out of the bubble-wrapped shipping envelope. The promo claimed the book combined the wisdom of Tuesdays with Morrie and rocket science. What could be a better sounding pitch?

As far as family history goes, the book would delight any member of the Byk family or Americans with Polish ancestry. Outside of this niche group of people, unfortunately, the book fails to capture and retain the reader's attention. Undeniably, the facts about aerospace engineering and rocket science are intriguing, but they are few and far between. The book mostly deals with aging and coping with an elderly relative. The interaction between Mr. B. and his family consumes a large part of the author's focus.

I don't like to pan books outright though. I usually search hard to find worthy elements. Byk put a lot of time, energy an thought into the book. Mr. B portrays how family dynamics change when a family takes in an elderly relative and more significantly, how such a move can lead to personal growth for all family members. The depiction redeems the book somewhat.

Sincere and honest, like a Norman Rockwell painting, Byk captures post-war America well. Dialogue and banter surround the narrative (in daily installments), showcasing genuine Christian values long-vanished from mainstream America. It's not a book for everyone, but everyone with an aging relative in the house will be able to relate to the Byk's bittersweet journey.


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