By the time Josh Rivedal turned twenty-five, he thought he’d have the perfect life—a few years singing on Broadway, followed by a starring role in his own television show. After which, his getaway home in the Hamptons would be featured in Better Homes & Gardens, and his face would grace the cover of the National Enquirer as Bigfoot’s not-so-secret lover. Instead, his resume is filled with an assortment of minor league theatre and an appearance on The Maury Povich Show—a career sidetracked by his father’s suicide, a lawsuit from his mother over his inheritance, and a break-up with his long-term girlfriend.
Tortured by his thoughts, he finds himself on the ledge of a fourth floor window, contemplating jumping out to inherit his familial legacy. In turn he must reach out to the only person who can help him before it’s too late.
Based in part on his acclaimed one-man show, The Gospel According to Josh is a comedic and poignant true-to-life tale of love, loss, struggle, and survival—a gospel account of one young man’s passage into manhood—his twenty-eight-year Gentile bar mitzvah.
This is the first memoir I have ever read. I was approached by Josh’s publisher requesting a review for this book. After reading the synopsis, and getting to know a little bit more about Josh through his publisher, I accepted.
I have always enjoyed books that have a “point,” that are real, or serve a purpose. In the past I have enjoyed stories that although fiction brings to light the more difficult topics in this world. So really this book although something I have never read before intrigued me.
I began reading Josh’s book a month or so ago. I am generally a slow reader but it took me an extra long time to finish this particular book. It wasn’t because I didn’t enjoy it; I think it was more because it addressed issues that are close to my world. I had to absorb the story piece by piece a little bit at a time.
Josh puts himself out there in the memoir and discusses a topic that is so often taboo in this world. He opens you up to be privy to details of his life and his family’s life for the greater good of society in all honesty. Mental Health, mental illness, depression, and suicide are topics no one really wants to talk about. Those topics have gained a societal stigma, and I think that Josh opening himself up to share his father’s struggles, and he’s own is taking a step in the right direction to help end this stigma.
There were times that I found myself lost throughout the book. There are some points where it jumps around a bit. At those times I felt as though I was either lost or didn’t understand exactly what that had to do with the story. However I find it hard to judge someone else’s story of their life.
I continued to read only to find myself relating to Josh’s story, and cheering him on as he brought to light the startling facts about depression and suicide. Josh’s story gives hope to those struggling with depression and suicide as he continues to make a difference in this world by sharing his story.
I was greatly touched by the story about the one student who waited after Josh’s first college performance. I had tears in my eyes as I read what it meant to him that Josh was there.
I honestly would recommend this book to just about anyone for several reasons.
1.) If you don’t understand depression or suicidal thoughts, Josh’s explanation of what he was feeling and what it was like to live his life is a good representation of how some feel while struggling with depression.
2.) If you have ever struggled or had suicidal thoughts before you will feel less alone, more “normal,” and maybe even gain some insightful information.
3.) If you have ever known or know someone who struggles with a mental illness Josh’s story may help you understand their POV a little better.
Sure this is not a representation of everyone who suffers from depression, PTSD, or other mental illnesses. What worked for Josh and helped him may not work for everyone, but the important message is you are not alone. Asking for help isn’t easy, but everyone is worth it in this world, and just because you need help doesn’t make you weak, or broken.
If you are struggling, if you think you are alone, please remember there are others out there just like you, and others who want to help.
Joshua Rivedal is an actor, playwright, and international public speaker. His memoir “The Gospel According to Josh: A 28-Year Gentile Bar Mitvah” is published by Skookum Hill and is based in part on his 30 character one-man play “The Gospel According to Josh” which has toured extensively throughout the United States and Canada, and is set to open Off-Broadway in New York City in May, 2014. He wrote the libretto along with additional lyrics and music to a Spanish language Christmas musical “Rescatando la Navidad,” which opened in Miami in November 2013. He writes for the blogs The Arts Entrepreneur and The BLOGospel According to Josh. As an actor, Josh has lent his voice to the role of Hippo in Scholastic’s “Rabbit and Hippo In Three Short Tales,” the narrator of Julianne Moore’s “Freckleface Strawberry and the Dodgeball Bully,” the narrator of “Cinderella Penguin,” and numerous other audiobooks and animated projects.
He has spoken professionally about suicide prevention and mental health awareness in more than twenty-five U.S. states and two Canadian provinces. He serves on the board of directors for the New York City chapter of The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.