Tuesday, February 22, 2011

I Beat the Odds by Michael Oher with Don Yeager

Few people have never heard of Michael Oher and his remarkable story, told in the book and motion picture, "The Blind Side". A few months ago I told you about a book written by Sean and Leigh Anne Touhy, telling their story in their own words.

Now Michael has the chance to let his voice be heard in his new book, "I Beat the Odds", written with the help of Don Yeager. In this book, you'll learn more about Michael before he ever met the Touhy family, and you'll see a heart that beats for disadvantaged youth, one that beats with a powerful message of hope.

Much of what we saw in the movie took place in a span of just over a year. By the time Michael came into their lives, he was on the verge of entering his senior year of high school. Much of his early life was glossed over due to lack of time and lack of information.

Michael ventured into his past via interviews with family and friends, teachers and social workers, gleaning information for himself as well as for his readers. His goal was to paint as accurate a portrait as possible, in order to give others walking in similar shoes hope.

This book isn't about chest-thumping or 'look at how successful I've become'. Instead, it's designed to point the way out of whatever circumstance may be holding you back. Michael's target audience is two-fold...

...first, he's writing to the kids from broken, damaged, dysfunctional homes similar to his own. Kids who've been swallowed up by the system or the neighborhood norms that threaten to hold them back and trap them. He wants them to see in him a role model for how to overcome.

And second, he's writing to us...to those of us who can hold out a hand of help, love and support. It's not about being wealthy and about adopting disadvantaged children...although that is one way to help out.

It's more about seeing opportunities in front of us to pour our lives into someone who might need just one person to say "I believe in you and I love you enough to care about you and your life."

Just like so many, many people were there for Michael. He's clear on many things, but loud and clear about this in particular: the Touhy's did a lot for him, but there were others along the way long before he ever met Sean and Leigh Anne.

Michael's book is easy to read and traces the path his life took, beginning with his earliest memories up to the present day. This is a young man with an excellent head on his shoulders and a God-sized purpose in his heart.

I'm recommending "I Beat the Odds" with four out of five bookmarks, with a football (naturally) as a charm. Oh, and Michael wants you to know that no one had to help him understand the game of football...he'd been studying it in depth since he was around seven or eight years old!

Happy Reading!



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