December 16, 2013

Book Review: The Blind Side by Michael Lewis

Sorry this picture isn't like my usual book review photos. Like I said last week, I forgot my camera's battery charger back at college, which is five hours away, and my camera battery died before I got a chance to use it or even get the photos I already had off of it and onto my computer. But once I get the chance I'll be changing this picture to one of my own. For now though, this will have to suffice.

So I actually read and finished this book back in November - maybe five weeks ago - but I just haven't gotten around to reviewing it. School is the main reason, but another reason is that I honestly just didn't care for the book. I'm going to assume must of y'all know what it's about because I'm pretty sure y'all have seen the movie. But for those of you who have possibly never heard of it, here is a brief description. Michael Oher grew up in the ghetto of Memphis but managed to find himself at a wealthy, private, christian, white school. The Tuohy's, particularly Leanne, pretty much saved Michael from the streets. They gave him a place to sleep and basically adopted him. At the same time Michael also began playing football and had a very promising career. And [spoiler alert] he manages to barely graduate high school, to go on to play football for Ole Miss, then to be drafted to the Baltimore Ravens, for whom he still plays today.

The movie is one of my absolute favorites, but the book was just not what I was expecting. For one, I felt the book was poorly organized. Michael Oher's name didn't come up till maybe chapter 3 or 4, and even after he was mentioned there were multiple chapters throughout the book that didn't mention him at all. When characters were introduced, it was chaotic. Names were mentioned, but very little description followed. It led the reader to believe these were minor characters. But a chapter or two later, that character is mentioned again and multiple pages are devoted to describing that character and their importance to Michael. The book just wasn't chronological, and I felt it really took away from the impact this story could have.

Second, Lewis seemed to be heavily concerned with explaining in great detail the history and evolution of the game, so several chapters are purely about that; he tells the stories of all these football players and coaches who really have nothing to do with Michael Oher at all. I frequently felt like I was reading a non-fiction book about general football rather than a novel based on a true story about Michael Oher. And I didn't really like that. I felt these stories and the way Lewis described all these other players and coaches made the story of Michael Oher so less extraordinary. Unintentionally, Lewis made Michael seem like he was simply a product of the game's evolution and that he got to where he is now because of third parties, not because he excelled at the game or because the Tuohy's gave him a fighting chance.

And lastly, the chapters were very long. I'm talking 30 pages long. That's exhausting for me to read. I don't like stopping in the middle of chapters, so I had to make sure I set aside at least an hour and a half to read one chapter. And you can only imagine how frustrating that was when so many chapters aren't even about Michael Oher. It was just hard to get through.

So for my overall impression and recommendations, I would have to say I was very disappointed with this book, especially since the movie is just so good. This may sound harsh, but I feel like the book almost discredited Michael Oher's talent and the Tuohy's selflessness. I honestly wouldn't recommend this book to anyone. Only if you are super interested in and knowledgeable about football, would I say try it out, and only then would I say that if you were absolutely dying to read it. But if you're kinda on the fence or if it's even just crossed your mind, just watch the movie. This is one of those very rare times where the book is worse than its on-screen counterpart.

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