The football star made famous in the hit film The Blind Side reflects on how far he has come from the circumstances of his youth.
Michael Oher is the young man at the center of the true story depicted in The Blind Side movie (and book) that swept up awards and accolades. Though the odds were heavily stacked against him, Michael had a burning desire deep within his soul to break out of the Memphis inner-city ghetto and into a world of opportunity. While many people are now familiar with Oher's amazing journey, this is the first time he has shared his account of his story in his own words, revealing his thoughts and feelings with details that only he knows, and offering his point of view on how anyone can achieve a better life.
Looking back on how he went from being a homeless child in Memphis to playing in the NFL, Michael talks about the goals he had for himself in order to break out of the cycle of poverty, addiction, and hopelessness that trapped his family for so long. He recounts poignant stories of growing up in the projects and running from child services and foster care over and over again in search of some familiarity. Eventually, he grasped onto football as his ticket out of the madness and worked hard to make his dream into a reality. But Oher also knew he would not be successful alone. With his adoptive family, the Touhys, and other influential people in mind, he describes the absolute necessity of seeking out positive role models and good friends who share the same values to achieve one's dreams.
Sharing untold stories of heartache, determination, courage, and love, I Beat the Odds is an incredibly rousing tale of one young man's quest to achieve the American dream.
©2011 Michael Oher (P)2011 Penguin Audio
Let's start by recognizing that this is not great literature, nor is it a "football book". It IS a personal account of a young man determined to succeed in spite of his circumstances, and how he went about acheiving his goals. Without being in any way exploitative, Michael Oher does not pull punches in describing life with his birth family and in the foster care system. Throughout, he balances the negative experiences with stories of love, family loyalty, and people who went out of their way to help. He shows us that love and caring transcend race and socio-economic status.
The assumption is that the reader/listener has seen the movie The Blind Side, and I was glad to have already listened to the Tuohys' book, In a Heartbeat. This book doesn't criticize either, but it corrects some things from the first and fills in some gaps from the second. The focus is on convincing young people that they have options, that they can "make it", and encouraging them to make good choices to take advantage of the opportunities that are out there.
The final section, with excerpts from letters to Michael and a list of some resources available to help at-risk kids, is better suited to print than audio; still, it gives the listener a start on ways to get involved in helping other kids beat the odds.
I'm a mom. I have drama in my life. I don't want books with the F-bomb, nor graphic violence. I read for fun and to bring my family together. I read for reducing stress levels. We have never had a television in our home and our children are now mid twenties to 19. We listen together and look for belly-wrenching laughter. So what is it like to live without a TV? Awesomely educational and inspirational. Each new book is a marvel.
I love Michael. His life is proof that when opportunity knocks, it is up to us to answer the door.
Most of us have some type of awful event in our lives, from our genes to our relationships, but we must overcome the pressures to remain in the continuous cycle. I love good role models in sports, they just don't get as much press as the bad boys/girls, so finding someone like Michael is my chance to cheer.
Michael is a great role model. I think everyone can learn something from this book. The small part to learn is how Hollywood rewrites "true" stories, the big part to learn is how to make a difference in life.
I loved The Blind Side book, this wasn't it. I was so intrigued by his story, but at times I felt he seemed arrogant and such a sense of entitlement. My favorite parts were the stories of his brothers and sisters, the loved they share is amazing and would love to hear more.
I recommend this to anyone who works with kids/teens, especially those straying off the right path. A good intro may be to show the Blind Side in class (or your organization) and assign this as a reading or audio assignment. Very powerful, I predict Michael Oher will even go beyond the fame of professional football. He's quite introspective and articulate, he knows firsthand the challenges faced by many youth who don't have many positive role models. The first 3/4 of the book leads up to where the Blind Side story picks up. Enjoy and be motivated.
Compelling, honest, compassionate and inspiring.
It feels like Michael Oher is actually telling you his story.
I beat the odds . . . from zero to hero!
It kept me engaged...very interesting.
No - I like to listen on the way to work and when cleaning around the house. The book very quickly though. It was hard to stop listening.
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