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Pursuit of Happyness by Chris Gardner - Book Review

About.com Rating 3.5 Star Rating
User Rating 5 Star Rating (1 Review)


Pursuit of Happyness
Courtesy Amistad

The Bottom Line

Chris Gardner’s life story is impressive. Despite having never gone to college, and after a period of being homeless, he became a wildly successful stockbroker and wrote his memoir, Pursuit of Happyness. It’s not surprising that Hollywood turned his story into a blockbuster film starring Will Smith. Pursuit of Happynesstracks this happy, rags-to-riches story, including his unhappy childhood and his adult progression through a few different careers.
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  • Gardner’s childhood memories range from the sad to the uplifting
  • Readers will be motivated and inspired by his dedication to education and hard work
  • Gardner’s sincere expressions of devotion to his children are touching


  • Violence and sexuality make this book inappropriate for young readers
  • The writing is more complicated than it needs to be; sentences can be hard to follow


  • Chris Gardner grew up in a struggling African-American neighborhood in Milwaukee
  • Gardner’s childhood was marked by his stepfather’s abuse of his mother
  • Gardner’s two goals are to be a good father to his son and to work on Wall Street

Guide Review - Pursuit of Happyness by Chris Gardner - Book Review

Chris Gardner went from an impoverished childhood to become a wealthy stock broker and entrepreneur, and managed to juggle single fatherhood before it was culturally accepted. His memoir, Pursuit of Happyness, spends a lot of time recounting that difficult childhood and his transition to the military and to time spent working in medicine. The story picks up more speed two-thirds of the way through, when Gardner is living in San Francisco determined to raise his son and succeed as a stockbroker, despite having never gone to college.

Gardner’s message can seem inconsistent. On the one hand, he was moved by his own troubled childhood to vow that he would be a good father to his children. On the other hand, a flashy red Ferrari caught his eye one day, prompting him to adopt the goal of becoming a stock broker in order to earn enough money to buy his own Ferrari. The two goals aren’t incompatible, of course, but Gardner doesn’t mention any tension he may have felt between his selfless love for his son and his more superficial-seeming financial goals.

Any self-reflection present in Gardner’s story seems to be mostly the self-reflection of a motivational speaker, which Gardner has become. There is much discussion of working hard to overcome the paucity of other African-Americans on Wall Street, not to mention Gardner’s lack of a college degree. The Pursuit of Happyness makes for an enjoyable story, and an inspiring one, but leaves the reader looking for something more.

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User Reviews

Reviews for this section have been closed.

 5 out of 5
The Pursuit of Happyness, Member Bookworm91

The Pursuit of Happyness is about Christopher Gardner, a man who went through many trials and tribulations to be successful. He was born to a mother who spent time in jail and experienced abuse. He did not know who his father was; his motherís abusive boyfriend threw that in his face every chance he got. Chris joined the Navy as an adult and began medical training. He got married and had a son. His wife left him due to financial issues. The experience of having no father allowed Chris to be a good father to his son at all circumstances. After seeing a red Ferrari, he wanted to be a stockbroker. He worked towards that, homeless and all. That shows determination and motivation; to work towards a goal when it seems almost impossible. After being hired by Bearstoneís stock company, Chris gradually succeeded as a stockbroker. He later went on to open his own brokerage firm. I think the message to readers is to not give up when things get difficult and that success is worth working hard for. I think the book is a good book for teenagers who want to know where they want to go in life. People who hadnít really been through anything should read this book and realize how fortunate they are. I think this book teaches readers that they are one choice away from being in Chrisís former predicament. I like this book because it shows the steps Chris took to become successful. The book didnít just go straight to the success story. I recommend this book to high schools, colleges, and correctional institutions and jails should offer this book as an option because it gives off a good message.

134 out of 141 people found this helpful.

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