Luke Donovan is an “eighties baby.” He was born in 1983. Half of the world’s population was born in 1983 or later, thus making the so-called Generation Y a significant factor in what becomes of our world. In his new book, Missing the Big Picture, Donovan has painted a painful, yet celebratory portrait of his own personal Gen Y angst that will deliver some shocking insights into the social abyss in which many young adults, like the author, find themselves living. Donovan has more pressing matters than contemplating his impact on the world; he first has to find his place in it.
It is that daunting, and for many, seemingly overwhelming, task that is the singular theme of Missing the Big Picture. Donovan pretty much tells his story in chronological order, from birth to his current age of twenty-nine. Early on it becomes apparent that all the core issues of passage from childhood, to teen to young adult are the same as they ever were–acceptance, approval, self-esteem, bullying, cliques–are all still in play. But the society in which the process takes place, however, is unrecognizable and unfathomable to most parents, and even unfathomable to many of the young people desperately seeking their place. Donovan, while not yet fully polished as a writer, has an innate style that is authentic and sensitive. This style gives the reader the sense that they have truly been given permission to read the anguished and deeply personal thoughts and feelings of the author. Missing the Big Picture is no “reality show,” it is reality.
As most of us are keenly aware, it is media, in all its varied forms, that is the “mega peer” that holds a powerful influence over young adults. Donovan offers many examples from his own experience to substantiate this. And media, like a “best friend” who is leading us astray, is an influence that we seem helpless to exorcise. This is so, not only for our children, but for us as well. Media compels parents to condone children’s bad choices and behavior because it creates the perception that “all kids are like that.” Even worse, media-created perceptions that “there is no understanding kids” result in parents abandoning their parental roles.
I liked Missing the Big Picture a lot. I admire author Luke G. Donovan for his extraordinary willingness to share his story. And I’m gratified that Mr. Donovan has learned important lessons on his journey–self-confidence, compassion for others, and laughter. And finally, most of all, I am uplifted by the author’s stated purpose for telling his story: “I hope that the book…will show struggling young people that things will get better.” I find that goal most admirable for a 29-old still struggling himself.
(Reviewed by Joseph Yurt for Reader Views)