Monday, March 1, 2010

Book #22 – The Blind Side

41r5rpFNP L._BO2,204,203,200_PIsitb-sticker-arrow-click,TopRight,35,-76_AA300_SH20_OU01_ I thought that the movie was fantastic, one of the best I’ve seen in a long time, but the book was pretty good as well. The Blind Side is by Michael Lewis, who’s written a few sports books and business books that I’ve enjoyed. He writes about a true event, but in a story telling manner. This book is no exception, and scenes from the movie kept popping in my head as I read the book.

The book starts out like the movie, with the Lawrence Taylor sack of Joe Theismen where a leg is broken. Lewis sees that as the changing of the game, an event where the left tackle position (for right handed QBs) all of a sudden is elevated beyond that of the other lineman, strictly because of Lawrence Talyor. The change is seen as a realization by Bill Walsh that this position becomes important in his offense, and is needed as a counter to the opposite change LT brought to Bill Parcell’s defense.

The book seems to jump between Michael Lewis, a poor black boy that is essentially living on his own as a teenager. He stays with friends, really having no parents to take care of him. This is in Memphis where he is given a chance to attend an elite, white, Christian school when the father of a friend takes his own son there to seek enrollment and a better education. That boy is a talented basketball player, but Michael is a freak. A huge physical specimen that dominates rooms, but is withdrawn, shy, and hiding from his size. He’s admitted, and begins school, though isn’t likely to succeed.

That is until Leigh Anne Tuohy finds him. In the movie she is the overwhelming presence, but in the book it seems that Sean is more of a factor. In any case, they bring Michael home one Thanksgiving when they realize he has no place to go and is living in the gym, on the street, whereever he can. They are a republican, rich, white family that takes in a huge, young black man. It’s an amazing story, and I think it works because Michael is so withdrawn.

The book runs up through mid 2009 in Michael’s life, talking about how he had NCAA issues, how he matured into a football player, and went to Ole Miss. Interspaced in the stories of his life are commentaries on how the NFL has changed and grown, with the importance of the position of left tackle.

I think you have to be a football fan to enjoy the book because there are a lot of parts that are strictly football. The movie is good for everyone, but if you like the NFL, this is an interesting read on one evolution of the game.

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