If you watched the movie (my review here), then you may wonder if or why you should read the book. That’s part of the reason that I didn’t read the book. I should’ve known better. The movie doesn’t deal with a lot of the stuff in the book —- how can it? —- and if you want to know more about Chris Gardner’s life, then you have to read the book.
The book starts off with Gardner’s troubled childhood, growing up not knowing his father and having to deal with an abusive stepfather, and then moves on to his problematic relationships, his struggle with making money and dealing with being a single parent. How he manages to go through life’s troubles and make something of himself is a tribute to the man’s incredible amount of self-belief and the desire to succeed no matter what the odds. Being homeless, with a toddler to take care of, he still manages to excel in a high-pressure job, which says something about Gardner’s resilience and courage.
The true inspiration of the story is not that he becomes a multi-millionaire but that he perseveres despite the numerous hardships that life throws at him. The book is also about how Gardner manages to be a good father to his son even though he never had a proper role model.
The Pursuit of Happyness is heartbreaking at times but it is an inspiring book to read. If there’s one message that you can take away from the book it’s that if we could show the same kind of determination that Gardner did, we’d certainly be better off in our lives.