Oconee Regional Library

I Beat the Odds

Book Review Twenty-Nine

February 26, 2011

I've seen the movie "The Blind Side" at least twice and I have also read the book by Michael Lewis. The subtitle of Lewis' book is "The Evolution of a Game". Michael Oher's, "I Beat the Odds" is a story about the evolution of a person.

In the very beginning, Oher clearly states his two goals in writing his version of his life: to correct some of the fiction in the movie that has become accepted as fact and more importantly, to speak to the hundreds of thousands of children in the foster care system in this country. Michael Oher with the help of co-author Don Yaeger tells his story with blunt reality, honesty, and humor. Here's one startling statistic from the book-children in the foster care system are more likely to suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder than our military members returning from war zones. Oher does not seek to demean or disparage foster parents or those employed by departments of child care services. He tells the story of returning to Memphis to meet the social worker who most consistently determined the location and condition of him and his eleven siblings. His view of her has changed obviously and their reunion is one of the highlights of the book to me. Other adults who helped him climb his steps to success are given their share of the credit which helps to balance the movie role of the Tuohy family.

All of us attach value and define things in different ways. To Michael Oher, being poor was not knowing where he was going to sleep or what clothes he had, it was about knowing where or if he would be able to find food to eat. Sean Tuohy, not his charismatic wife, very quietly and anonymously, put an end to that fear after Oher arrived at Briarcrest. Some fears can never be completely erased however. Michael Oher, the financially secure football player, always checks to be sure his refrigerator isn't lacking for food. While the movie version of his life isn't accurate in some areas, the heart and spirit of what the Tuohy's provided truthfully resonates in both. The complete acceptance of Michael by the Tuohy children and their unselfishness is remarkable. Leigh Anne Tuohy's tutoring of her adopted son in social settings made him feel comfortable and impressed his peers in the professional arena.

In the pages of "I Beat the Odds", the constant themes of assessing a person's natural talents, a willingness to listen and the decision to pay the price of hard work are repeated again and again. At the end of the book, Oher and Yaeger provide a partial list of ways and organizations for assistance as well as for donating your time and funds.

The least amount of space in "I Beat the Odds" is spent on how to become a professional athlete.

Because of its content, I hope this book becomes as widely distributed as possible. "I Beat the Odds" is a sterling example of how a book, not a web page or any blog or email, can be read, touched, and read again to plant the seeds of hope in someone's life.

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