To be totally upfront, this isn’t exactly a fair review. I love the Tuohy/Oher family. I have no personal connection to them, I wasn’t given this book for free in return for a review, I’m not a football fan… I just really love their family. That’s all.
Okay, so that said, I’ve been waiting to hear Michael’s story from himself ever since I saw The Blind Side when it first came out. And then I wanted to hear from him when I read The Blind Side. And again when I read In A Heartbeat. So I was super stoked when I found out that this book was being published and read it in two days. I think I have even more respect for Michael Oher now than I ever did before.
Basically, this is Michael’s story. He states early on he doesn’t want to rehash the other two books, which have their own goals. Instead, he wants to clarify some things that were changed using poetic license in the movie. He also says one of his goals is to talk about those kids in foster care. He wants to encourage them to beat the odds themselves.
Oh Michael. I am in love with you because of that.
Honestly, I loved this book. I think Michael comes across as a really likable guy who has a great head on his shoulders. He will always remember what it was like to be the kid who didn’t know where he was going; he just knew that he was going. A few things that really stood out to me: He talks about his childhood, but it’s never in a disrespectful way toward his biological mother. It’s so easy to blame here, but Michael is quick to point out that that’s not the best idea. He says:
I don’t want anyone to think I am talking in a disrespectful way about my mother. It’s important to honor our parents — that’s even in the Bible — but honoring them and approving of their lifestyles are totally different things. I will always love and honor my mother, but that doesn’t mean that I can just shrug off her additions and pretend that they didn’t hurt me or my brothers and sisters (pg. 101).
So well-spoken, and so true. He goes on to talk about her choices in a little more detail, but never in a way that just seems so gossipy and rude. And at the end of the book, he says “I just have to remember the good times — the way she was when she was off drugs and working — and decide for my own life what kind of parent I am going to be once I get married and start a family.” I think it’s amazing that he brings up the good times. From my own perspective, with a really terrible biological mother of my own, remembering those good times (because for most kids like Oher and me, they do exist!) is something we’re made to feel guilty about.
I think what Michael wrote is really inspiring. As a former foster kid myself, and someone whose own biological mother battled her own additions that could have (but thankfully didn’t) become mine, I think Michael is a great encouragement to kids who the world has already labeled as failures simply because of where they come from. He writes:
Every time you slip up, lash out, slack off, or sulk, you’re just playing into their hands by acting like the stereotype they’ve already decided you are. Too many people have already labeled you a ‘bad kid’ in their minds, and if you course or pout or act up, you’re just letting them think that’s all there is to you… (pg. 103 – 104).
It’s refreshing for kids who the world has disregarded to hear that they can be good and that it’s okay to be good. Michael delivers that message powerfully and in a way that makes one want to be like him. (At the same times, it’s also terribly sad to me that foster kids are automatically heaped into a giant pile of “not good” because of things they cannot control.)
Not only do I like the message Michael has to deliver in this book, but I also find joy in the way he describes Leigh Anne. For instance, at one point he calls her “a very tiny, very loud lady,” which makes me laugh, give Oher’s size — this little bitty woman took care of him. They have a very special relationship and that’s evident throughout this book.
I highly recommend this book for anyone looking to learn more about Michael and his family! A great, quick, inspiring read.