Book Review – Madness, Miracles, Millions

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Recently, I was contacted by a PR rep for Joseph’s Lite Cookies to review a book written by Joseph Semprevivo, the founder of Joseph’s Lite Cookies. The book is titled Madness, Miracles, Millions. I was excited by this opportunity for several reasons. First, I love to read so I’m always looking for new books to check out. Second, my husband and I own a small business so I love hearing stories about how other small businesses have made it.  And third, the author has diabetes.

The book, written by Larry Semprevivo and his son Joseph, primarily focuses on the family’s hardships. The patriarch of the family, Larry, endured a horrible experience at work that set the stage for many more obstacles their family would encounter and overcome. One of their experiences also included a diabetic diagnosis for their son, Joseph. Joseph would eventually use his diagnosis to lead him to create a million dollar idea, Joseph’s Lite Cookies.

Overall, I enjoyed this book. It was a quick, easy read and it was entertaining. It was also a very inspiring tale. The family overcame a lot of obstacles, but they never gave up.

The book was told from two different perspectives, the dad-Larry and his son-Joseph.  It started out with Joseph’s point of view, but I actually preferred Larry’s style of writing.  As contradictory as it sounds, sometimes I thought they talked about issues too long while other times, not providing enough details.  I felt like sometimes they rambled but other times they didn’t explain enough how they got from point A to point B. They talked a lot about their hard times, but I really enjoyed reading about their successes so I wish they focused a little more on those.

I also wish they had talked about Joseph’s diabetes a little bit more.  I felt like this book would have been a great opportunity to educate readers about diabetes, but they didn’t really discuss it much.  Although, I didn’t particularly care for the way they handled certain aspects of diabetes, like Joseph’s son’s diagnosis. He said that one day when his son was 10 months old he had a feeling. They had just been to the doctor and the son was fine but then he felt like he might be diabetic so he tested his blood sugar and he was. My beef with this is that you can have a high blood sugar here and there and it doesn’t mean you are diabetic.  Since he is diabetic himself, I know he knows about diabetes but I felt like that the way he told it was very misleading to those who might not know much about the disease. One high blood sugar doesn’t make you diabetic.   Maybe there was more to the story but that’s all he shared with us..  They also mentioned having to wake up in the middle of the night to test Joseph’s son’s blood sugar and when it was high they would exercise in the middle of the night.  Now, I’m sure everyone handles high blood sugar differently, but I’ve never started running laps in the middle of the night when I saw a high number, but maybe that’s just me.

I did like how they gave props to the D-parents by mentioning how Joseph (and other D-parents) would have to get up in the middle of the night to test his son’s blood sugar.

I was really enjoyed reading about Joseph’s diagnosis in 1980. At the time, his parents were told he wouldn’t live past 21. It was interesting for me to read that. I was diagnosed in 1993 and when I was diagnosed, they told me that there would be a cure in 5 years instead of you will die in 12 years.   While I don’t appreciate the false hope they gave me back then (21 years later there is still not a cure), I do appreciate they didn’t give me such devastating news either.

His diagnosis also came at a time when he was told he couldn’t have any sugar. This brought flashbacks to my pre-pump days when I could only have one sweet a week. It’s funny to think back to that because I was told I couldn’t have cookies or cake, except once a week but then other food I was eating probably had more carbs. I remember my parents making me mashed potatoes a lot, which have 20 carbs for half a cup, but my Girl Scout cookies have 20 carbs for 5 cookies.  Since he couldn’t have any sugar, he would eventually create the first sugar free cookie.

It was great to read about how Joseph took his diabetes diagnosis and turned it into something positive. When he was just a teenager, he created a sugar-free cookie that he could eat.  This cookie turned him and his family into entrepreneurs which led to a successful business.  It was impressive to read about how much they accomplished all on their own and at a time before social media.  However, this was more a story of his family and how they overcame tough times which included Joseph’s diabetes.  I wish they had focused a little more on the diabetes and their business, but it was an inspiring and motivating tale. The main message I received was to never give up or lose hope, which is a powerful reminder we need every now and then.

*Disclaimer – I was provided a free copy of Madness, Miracles, Millions.*


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