Verdict: Madness, Miracles, Millions provides an inspiring look at how the Semprevivo family went from bankruptcy to running a sweet multi-million dollar business in this faith-based memoir.
This faith-based memoir highlights how the Semprevivo family overcame obstacles to create, own, and operate a multi-million-dollar, sugar-free cookie company.
The madness includes bankruptcy, illness, and an accident in which Larry nearly lost his arm. The miracles involve how the family worked through struggles and found something good from each bad turn. The millions refer to the success of Joseph’s Lite Cookies, a company started because of Joseph’s craving for sweets despite his diabetes.
The first 90 pages and epilogue are written by son Joseph, with father Larry writing the rest. They tell each other’s stories and their own, so it’s unclear why they didn’t co-author the text together to avoid repetition, a problem throughout this work. For example, this paragraph follows Larry’s printing press accident: “As Larry sat and examined his own arm that lay lifeless in his lap, blue and crippled, he quietly prayed. He prayed to God for help. He knew that this was a crisis situation, so he stayed quiet and prayed. Making their way over that bridge, Bill drove, Josephine silently wept, and Larry prayed.”
Although considerable space is devoted to the accident and family illnesses, the unique aspect of the story is how Joseph used his diabetes for creative inspiration. Unfortunately, the book focuses undue attention on blaming careless coworkers, disloyal friends, incompetent doctors, and unscrupulous employees for their troubles, instead of focusing on Joseph’s achievements. He worked long, hard hours, received many leadership awards, and was not easily discouraged, but only sketchy details show how the business was actually started, maintained, and developed, and there’s no mention of the controversy regarding possible side effects of the sweetening agent used in the cookies.
Though an inspirational memoir rather than a business how-to, readers may be curious whether dedication, family, and prayer alone guided the Semprevivos to success. Sharing specific business techniques, providing a more balanced view of the past, eliminating repetition, and fixing typographical errors would make this book more enjoyable for readers who appreciate memoirs about beating the odds.
Madness, Miracles, Millions provides an inspiring look at how the Semprevivo family went from bankruptcy to running a sweet multi-million dollar business in this faith-based memoir.