I was sent this book for my review through TLC Book Tours. These are my honest opinions and thoughts about the novel.
In the spirit of The Blind Side and Friday Night Lights comes a tender and profoundly moving memoir about an ESPN producer’s unexpected relationship with two disabled wrestlers from inner city Cleveland, and how these bonds—blossoming, ultimately, into a most unorthodox family—would transform their lives.
When award-winning ESPN producer Lisa Fenn returned to her hometown for a story about two wrestlers at one of Cleveland’s toughest public high schools, she had no idea that the trip would change her life. Both young men were disadvantaged students with significant physical disabilities. Dartanyon Crockett was legally blind as a result of Leber’s disease; Leroy Sutton lost both his legs at eleven, when he was run over by a train. Brought together by wrestling, they had developed a brother-like bond as they worked to overcome their disabilities.
After forming a profound connection with Dartanyon and Leroy, Fenn realized she couldn't just walk away when filming ended; these boys had had to overcome the odds too many times. Instead, Fenn dedicated herself to ensuring their success long after the reporting was finished and the story aired—and an unlikely family of three was formed.
The years ahead would be fraught with complex challenges, but Fenn stayed with the boys every step of the way—teaching them essential life skills, helping them heal old wounds and traumatic pasts, and providing the first steady and consistent support system they’d ever had.
This powerful memoir is one of love, hope, faith, and strength—a story about an unusual family and the courage to carry on, even in the most extraordinary circumstances.
The book is very readable, and at times deeply moving, especially as the two boys finished high school and developed their considerable athletic ability. Things got more complex as the boys faced new and different responsibilities in college. Lisa Fenn stood by them through lots of obstacles, and learned to empathize and help them adjust. She doesn't flinch at discussing the racism exposed as others, including a family member, reacted to her mentor ship of these two boys. Overall, this is a really stimulating and provocative read, and it provides a frank look at the harsh conditions that some kids face every day, their tenacity and resilience, and the effect of loving, warm support on the kids fortunate enough to receive it from coaches, teachers, family, or perhaps from people outside their community like Lisa Fenn. I also appreciated how inspiring the novel was and kept me wanting to keep turning the page to find out what happens next. A great read for those who are looking for a moving, encouraging and uplifting book to add to their collections. My husband even is anxious to read it as well!