Thursday, December 24, 2009

The Blind Side (by Michael Lewis)

Reviewed by Tracy L. Karol

5.0 out of 5 stars Great book, great movie, December 24, 2009
By Tracy L. Karol "" (Austin, Texas) - See all my reviews
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The Blind Side (Movie Tie-in Edition)

I really wanted to read this book before I saw the movie, and I started to several times but never got around to buying it and finally went to see the film on a whim. Wow, was I blown away. Great movie. I immediately came home and bought the book, which I read in a matter of days.

First, if you've seen the movie but haven't read the book you should know that the book is much more detailed than the film. It deals not just with the fascinating life of a young, basically homeless black youth in Memphis, Michael (Big Mike), who is eventually taken in by a wealthy family who only want to help him. This is a true story, which most of you probably know. Michael Oher was a first-round draft pick in the NFL in 2009 as a left tackle and now plays for the Baltimore Ravens.

The book starts with a brief history of why the position Michael plays, left tackle, is so important. If you don't follow football, maybe you won't find this as interesting as I did, but I think you probably will. Hard for me to judge as I'm a huge football fan and I immediately went to see who the left tackles are for the Dallas Cowboys and the Texas Longhorns (we need a better offensive line). The author moves back and forth between the history of football, how the offensive line evolved and became more important (crucial, really) with certain coaches paving the way, and how that paved the way for someone with the unique skill set and build of Michael Oher to come along when he did and have a chance at being so successful.

Michael was one of at least 12 children born to an addict mother. He managed to get into a private Christian school with the help of a neighborhood friend, but he really couldn't read and didn't have much in the way of social skills, and he lived clear across town, when he had a place to stay at all. Eventually, he is slowly absorbed into the family of Sean and Leigh Anne Tuohey, who have a daughter his age at the same school and who are both Ole Miss alumnae. They also have a younger son, Sean Jr. They don't see much athletic potential in Michael at first, other than possibly basketball, which Sean played in college, but they do see a gentle giant in need of help, and they set up an elaborate support system to give it to him.

The book deals with college football recruiting, the NCAA, legendary NFL football coaches who changed the game (as well as players), and the evolution of Michael Oher. It is a truly fascinating look at how nurture can change the direction of one person's life, and it really makes you think. I highly recommend it to football fans and the general public. If you've seen the movie, read the book for more insights. There were slight changes made in the film, but the gist of it is all there, and you get so much more information. I'm certain I will read it again. It is a book that stays with you long after you've put it down. And if you are a football fan, you will learn much and thirst for even more. Happy reading!