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The Answer Is... Review

by Jamie Lammers about a year ago in book reviews
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A simple reflection of a life that has impacted millions

Just before Jeopardy host Alex Trebek died, he wrote a book. He had been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, and the statistics told him he probably wouldn't live much longer. He fought for as long as he possibly could, getting through tapings in immense pain and going back and forth about how he felt trying to fight something that might be pointless. He initially didn't think he would ever want to write a book, but eventually realized he had a lot to say about his life experiences. He wanted to publish something from the original source so that facts of his life weren't stretched out of proportion, and he wanted to keep making a positive impact during the time he struggled the most. He acknowledges in the opening of the book that he is not a writer by any stretch of the imagination, but that doesn't matter. The Answer Is... encapsulates the voice of a laid-back conversationalist reliving his life's story through simple anecdotes, and for a book like this, that is absolutely perfect.

The book is not structured like a stereotypical memoir, instead separating each of Trebek's most important life moments into categories, questions, and answers, much like the clues on his beloved game show. That structure creates a casual atmosphere to his story, like he's actually in the room reflecting on his life to an audience. It's the perfect format for Trebek, and it's the kind of format that invites even the most casual of readers in to finish the entire book. There are so many tidbits about Trebek's life that hadn't been delved into very much before this book -- his swearing habits, his various other hosting jobs, his thoughts about other careers, and his life growing up. It's an optimistic and cheerful series of stories from someone who has faith in the goodness of the world, and it's frankly refreshing to read.

There are also many pictures scattered throughout the memoir that are taken from some of Trebek's most important accomplishments and memorable life moments, and they all enhance the experience of reading the stories he's organized here. From pictures of memorabilia he's hung on his wall to behind-the-scenes pictures of his game shows to simply pictures of himself or he and his family, they all allow Alex to take you on this trip down memory lane with him and celebrate the life he had. I'm not sure if they're pictures that have never been published before or if at least some of them have been seen before, but in the context of the memoir, they're beautiful to look at regardless.

Throughout the book, Trebek stresses that he in no way wants to come across like he has a large ego or a distance from the harsh realities of the world, but that he absolutely struggled with his own personal flaws and wanted to make the world a better place. He's humble, he's down-to-earth, he's optimistic, but most of all, he's engaging. He brings us these small moments of his life to allow himself and his Jeopardy fanbase to say goodbye and find the positives in letting go and recognizing the end of something. Trebek took his final year and made it matter to himself and those who cared about him, and for that, I have nothing but respect for the man. To those who loved his game shows, he was nothing but a humble and compassionate man, and to me, this book demonstrates his compassion wholeheartedly. If you're a Jeopardy fan and want to know more about the iconic host that helped make the show as legendary as it is, this is a must-read.

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Jamie Lammers

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