Monday, August 29, 2016

Review: Carry On by Lisa Fenn

Title: Carry On
Author: Lisa Fenn
Year Published: 2016

Genre: YA and Adult non-fiction
Pages: 269
Rating: 4.5 out of 5

Location (my 2016 Google Reading map)USA (OH and many other states)

FTC Disclosure: I received a copy of this book for review

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Purchase Links: HarperCollins | Amazon Barnes & Noble

Author Links: Facebook

Summary (from the back of the book): In the spirit of The Blind Side comes a deeply moving memoir about the unexpected bonds that wouldtransform three lives. Lisa Fenn produced human-interest features for ESPN for over a decade, but one particular story came into her life and never left. After seeing a newspaper image of two young wrestlers from one of Cleveland’s tougher public high schools, Lisa followed a hunch and flew back to her hometown to meet the boys that very day. What she found caused her spirit both to sink and to soar.

Leroy Sutton, who lost his legs in a childhood train accident, could often be found riding on the back of Dartanyon Crockett, who was legally blind and had no permanent place to call home. Initially drawn together by their handicaps, the boys soon developed a brother-like bond. When one wrestled, the other sat on the edge of the mat, and their cheerful friendship was a source of inspiration throughout the halls of their high school.

As Lisa filmed her feature about this remarkable friendship for ESPN, she grew to understand the suffering Leroy and Dartanyon had endured, and she fought for their trust and their confidence. The three formed a surprising and meaningful connection—and once the television story ended, Lisa realized she couldn’t just walk away.

Though Leroy’s and Dartanyon’s futures were limited by abject poverty, Lisa resolved to give them the chance she knew they deserved. She worked tirelessly to see them through school and athletic pursuits, broken hearts, phantom limbs, and the bewildering obstacles that, at every turn, tested their individual strengths even while strengthening the bonds between them.
More than a story of two underdogs overcoming innumerable hardships, Carry On is a touching tale of an unlikely family forged through barriers of race, class, and disability. It is a powerful memoir about grit, love, hope, and faith—and the courage to carry on, even in the most extraordinary circumstances.

Review: I am a sucker for an underdog sports story so I was excited to get to read this book for TLC Tours. As a high school teacher I know the power high school sports and friendship can have on a student's success in school and in life. But I had no idea the impact of poverty. I mean, I've seen poverty and I've seen it affect students, but I had no concept of how poverty permeates every poor of a person's body and soul. This book brought that to light in its second half.

It's difficult not to like Leroy and Dartanyon. Despite their hardships, both physical and financial, these two young men strive to be the best they can in both wrestling and in life. In wrestling they are successful, not achieving every goal, but doing very well (I won't do any spoilers here). In life they certainly fight the huge fight, sometimes winning and sometimes not. But Lisa Fenn is there to help guide them through the mistakes and pitfalls. She picks up where their parents and teachers left off, she is their friends, their mentor, and their mom. Pretty amazing.

The writing isn't as good as it could be, but the story pulled me and has made me think. And I like that.

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