BOOK REVIEW: Mister B by A. Lynn Byk

Posted October 25, 2017 by Fizzy Pop in A. Lynn Byk / 0 Comments

I was provided a complimentary copy of this book by Book Crash. I was not compensated for this review and all thoughts and opinions expressed are my own. I was not required to write a positive review.

BOOK REVIEW: Mister B by A. Lynn BykMister B by A. Lynn Byk
Published by Capture Books on February 5th 2016
Genres: Biography, Family Life, General, Humor
Pages: 394
Source: Book Crash
Amazon|Barnes&Noble|Goodreads


Mister B spins Americana history like cotton candy. The instructive and comedic Mister B is the Pinnacle Achievement Award recipient for Best Memoir, 2016. When a chauffeur-cook on the verge of financial ruin decides to help a 98-year-old rocket scientist by moving into his home, he decides to teach her a few life lessons. Together, they discover why they each still matter. A terrific, yet unusual love story.

Born in 1916, to a Polish-speaking mother, physicist Joseph Byk began his early schooling in rope-tied-baggy-pants-poverty. He was every teachers' dreaded student. Ending his senior year, however, he aspired to design vehicles that defy gravity. Joseph B IS the loveable, bumbling scientist portrayed in Nevil Shute's romantic character, Mr. Honey, (Jimmy Stewart) in the movie, No Highway in the Sky.

For curiosity seekers of aerospace and structural science, how did it all start? Here is the story of a forgotten stress engineer whose philosophy, calculations, and outspoken opinions saved many lives. Being politically correct is not Mister B's style, though Greatest Generation story lovers, World War II hounds, and family members caring for aging parents, think of Mister B as a national treasure.

A real-time memoir with a caregiver, Mr.B causes unsuspecting readers to become mindful of things that matter in many shades of life. As this materials analyst steps into a stress manufacturing field, his story encompasses his part in WWII and the cold war race to the moon against Russian flights. Joseph Byk stress tests reconnaissance planes and helped to design structural aspects of the space shuttle Gemini, the first moon landing gear, and the beginnings of Google Earth.

"A wonderful book, brimming with humor and spirituality. The characters are lovingly drawn and Byk provides her readers with a day-by-day recounting of how her life intersects with the indefatigable Mister B, whose memory seems almost photographic even at the age of 98! The book is enlivened by photographs from early-to-middle twentieth century America. A very worthwhile multi-generational read." -Jan Kalickion

"Byk fully constructs Mr. B, from the Rhode Island coastal awe in his voice to his penchant for mustard on peeled egg.' In these small, perfectly executed moments, Byk brings her fascinating family to life for readers with warm and genuinely funny wit..." - KIRKUS REVIEW

Hidden figures of NASA include not only brilliant women of color but also this underprivileged son of a Polish immigrant mother who pulled himself up by his bootstraps.

Armchair philosophers and would-be scientists appreciate Mister B's wry interactions with his in-laws who move into his home after the death of his wife. The ol' man decides to teach these younger caretakers a thing or two: specifically that, his newest design is to live forever. Lawyer jokes and Polish Jokes turn out all right with the pervasive wit and humor of this space rocket science

The ol' man and his new companions gradually redesign a dry acre into a flowering conversation piece where historical mushroom collecting and the sources of hydrogen and iron are brought to light. Interior design must take a back seat while the scientific engineer challenges them to consider theories of deflection, accuracy, stress variables, and material strengths. Joseph Byk's epistemology of life, science, and family ideals confront the independence of a younger generation as he reveals a lifetime of secrets. Mister B's family gains more than a conversationalist.

When I first started reading this book I felt like I’d just friended a friend on Facebook who was the quintessential vague-booker.  You know exactly what I mean.  We all have at least one friend who drops hints about something going in as if begging for you to pay attention, and when you do they don’t want to talk about it or ‘message me’.  Either say it or don’t post it.  Vague-Book is grounds for unfollowing, just saying.  There were hints and side comments dropped about other issues going on in the author’s life but it was never really spelled out or explained.  I couldn’t drop the idea of vague-booking.  It got better but I still don’t know what, if anything, those little drops added to the story.  I was doubting the wisdom of requesting this book just to be disappointed.  But, suffice it to say, I’m super glad I kept reading.  With each page, each story, each experience by investment in the individuals and the rating of the book went up for me.  By the end, despite the extraordinarily (for me) long time it took to finish this story was worth the investment.

I gotta give the author kudos, even with the decent descriptions and even the occasional picture to go with it, I never quite understood what Mr. B was talking about.  Structures and numbers and theories and formulas are right up there with tool-y things in my world.  I never ‘got it’.  But that’s OK because I totally got him.  Mr. B has a total freshness and irreverence for his age that is embraceable.  His openness to his family and his love for who he is and where’s he’s come from is refreshing.  I appreciated his stories of his childhood and young adult years more than the stories of his career.  I liked the personal and feel like there are more books of more stories that he could tell.  And I’d want to sit and listen to every single one of them.

I also appreciated a little bit more back story to all the vague-book in the beginning.  I never truly wrapped my head around it and never really understood what was and had happened but little bits came out as the book went on.  I wanted to shout ‘out with it already’ so many times.  I understand that that was not the focus of the book but I also felt like it took up too much time.  I took away a lot of new ideas about faith as well.  As the author worked through her own hangups and issues and moments I bonded with her growth.  As Mr. B expounded on his faith, or at times lack of faith, I bonded with his own personal understanding.  I grew to love these people and wouldn’t mind if they decided to take up residence in my neighborhood.  I’d also like to have the opportunity to spend more time with them in the future.

Mister B: Living with a 98-Year-Old Rocket Scientist
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About A. Lynn Byk

A Lynn Byk

A. Lynn Byk is the award-winning author of, “Mister B: Living With a 98-Year-Old Rocket Scientist.” A humorous and tender memoir of the Greatest Generation.

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