Books for Teens: Dr. Louis Tartaglia’s lessons on building character

Dr. Louis Tartaglia has impressive credentials. He’s a board certified sleep medicine specialist serving at the Toledo Clinic, a motivational speaker and an author, with a list of friends and mentors who are equally impressive including the late author Og Mandino, Scott DeGarmo (editor of Success magazine), author Mark Victor Hanson and the late Mother Teresa. 

Yes, that Mother Teresa. 

It was his work in Rome that helped inspire him to write his latest book, Last Gift of the Magi. “I was in Rome helping with a rehab facility that I had set up for Mother Teresa,” says Dr. Tartaglia. “I was in this library, and there was an old encyclopedia from the 1800s. It was in Italian, and it listed the twelve magi according to the Eastern Orthodox, and the nine magi according to the Latin tradition. I found that intriguing since I thought there were only three magi.” This new information inspired Dr. Tartaglia to explore the Christmas and Epiphany accounts, using a young camel to tell the story of the Holy Family and their flight into Egypt. 

“I thought I’d write something for my kids about the fact that there were more than three magi, and it developed into this story,” he says. “Mark Victor Hanson kept telling me that I should have it published. I rewrote it so that we could focus more clearly on the virtues.” 

This parable tells the story of Jamil, a young camel who struggles to find his purpose in life. Dr. Tartaglia sees that as a theme that young people today struggle with as well. “Last Gift of the Magi is discovering your purpose in life. If you get out into the desert, the struggle of life, where things look bleak and you have to trust in God in order to survive, that’s where you discover your inner greatness and inner potential.” 

Faith and family

Faith formation is an important part of a child’s development, and is a recurring theme in Dr. Tartaglia’s books.  “You can’t be a whole individual and function in a family without faith,” he says. “With the mental health crisis, what you’re seeing is addictions to all sorts of things. It is a hole in your soul that people are trying to fill with other substances rather than God. There is something lacking within, and we are using other things to fill it. [Gaining] more followers on Facebook and Twitter are not going to fill a hole in your soul,” he adds. 

Mentors needed 

In his previous book, The Great Wing, Dr. Tartaglia tells a parable about a young goose preparing for migration with the help of older, wiser mentors. “Most people need to work with a mentor at some time in their life in order to help with their transformation,” he explains, noting that many young people today look to the wrong people to be their mentors. 

“They try to mentor each other rather than find someone who’s already been down the path. They look to celebrities as their mentors, and what you see with a celebrity is a manufactured ideal that is inflated to sell a product. Their beliefs are often distorted and made up. It’s not a true mentor relationship, and yet that’s who people look to for guidance.” 

Dr. Tartaglia hopes that these books will help readers in their personal transformations. “The more you learn, the more you incorporate into your life, the better your faith situation is going to be,” he says. “And the more faith you develop, the more trust you develop in God, the better your life becomes.” 

Dr. Tartaglia’s books can be found on

Getting to Know Dr. Tartaglia

Where did you grow up?

Morristown, New Jersey.

Where did you go to school?

NYU and The University of Bologna, Italy.

Tell us about your family.

I’m married to Jeane. We have six children and five grandchildren between us.

How long have you been in Toledo and what brought you here?

Since 1994. I had an illness, left psychiatry and moved to the Midwest to be near family and friends.

Do you belong to a local parish or church?

St. Joe’s Sylvania on Sundays, and St. Joe’s Maumee for daily mass.

What are your favorite local spots in Toledo?

M Osteria, Domo Sushi and the Toledo Museum of Art.

Do you have any future projects in the works?

A sequel to Last Gift of the Magi titled The Return of the Cloth. The planned release date is January 2024.

What are your best words of motivation?

No matter how dire the situation looks, no matter how bleak it is, God has given you the talent somewhere inside to help you get through it.

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