Book Review: I Beat The Odds – From Homelessness to The Blind Side & Beyond

Michael Oher writes this book intending to tell his own story. The Blind Side: Evolution of a Game, written by Michael Lewis, adapted into the famous movie “The Blind Side” with Sandra Bullock, was written as a game strategy book with a personal story. Michael Oher explains that his story wasn’t part of the original plan for the book, and Michael Lewis didn’t talk to Michael Oher directly to get his whole story. Mr. Lewis first spoke to people who knew Michael growing up, and then Michael reached out to him to see what he was doing.

Obviously, to get a good storyline for a movie, some things were added, changed, and omitted, but this book was Michael Oher’s way of setting the record straight of what was facts and what was fiction from the movie.

In order to start the book from his childhood, he had to revisit the Department of Children’s Services office in Tennessee to speak with the case worker who managed his case and revisit memories he had blocked from his memory. Oher didn’t have the easiest childhood growing up in Memphis. He grew up in foster care, switching from family to family, attending different schools every time he switched families, running back to his mom’s house whenever he could, his mom disappearing from time to time, and then he and his siblings had to find somewhere to stay in the neighborhood.

So, another goal for his book was to provide resources for people who want to get involved with foster care children, for children who are in the system to have an inspiring story to look up to, letting them know that they can make it out of those tough situations.

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The statistics Oher shared about the foster care system really impacted me; he wrote that less than half of the children in foster care would graduate from high school. Of the ones who drop out, about half of the boys end up in prison, and the girls are six times more likely to be teen moms. And of those children, half will end up in foster care themselves. It’s like a non-ending cycle.

Oher was intentional in trying to get out of his troubled neighborhood. He tried to stay out of trouble; when he stayed at people’s houses, he was very respectful and ensured he wasn’t a burden. He made one friend who also wanted to get out of the troubled neighborhood, so they stuck together because you need good influences in your life to try to break the cycles.

One thing he didn’t like about The Blind Side movie was that it made him look dumb. He wasn’t dumb; he didn’t build the fundamental skills to study or learn in elementary school because he often switched schools. Also, there wasn’t a consistent adult presence in his life to ensure he was going to school or doing his homework. The second thing he didn’t like about the movie was that it made it seem like he didn’t know football when the Tuohy family came into his life. He knew sports, he studied sports, and he was a sports fanatic, especially basketball, but again, in order to get a good storyline, specific details had to be changed.

This is such an inspirational story because, like the book’s name, he beat the odds and said, if he can make it out of those troubled cycles, the other kids in there can too. He ends the book by advising the kids in foster care, which I found beautiful.

With Love, Heidy

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