Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Book Review: Against All Odds

Im back in my non-fiction mood, and I started the trend again with this book that got tacked on to my amazon list one day, though I am not quite sure why. It is the story of Paul Connolly, abandoned at two weeks old and growing up in one of the toughest institutions in London. It is an amazing story true to its title, as a man who saw twenty not knowing how to read or write managed to become incredibly successful and even publish a book about his own life.

One of the things that struck me is the similarities that I found in my own personality when reading his thoughts. Largely due to his upbringing he became a very violent person, but that underlying sense of social justice and violence had to be present in his character for him to have taken the path that he did, and it is one that I recognize in myself. As I have alluded to before I was the "bully-beater-upper" when I was in elementary school, I fought viciously to defend my friends in middle school who could not defend themselves, and I was always ready to raise my fists if and whenever I needed to. If I ever saw someone taking advantage of someone else or mericlessly bullying someone weaker than them I wont shed a single tear if that person gets a sound beating, and while objectively I know that the right answer to these situations is "violence is always wrong", I can't bring myself to emotionally agree with that statement. Luckily for me, I grew up in a family that loved me, I went to good schools, I always had enough to eat and any abuse I suffered was minimal, so my inner violence was never required to show itself very often. I still kickbox in my spare time as a form of exercise, but my inner need to feel self confident in my physical ability reside more in the fact that I'm a woman who lives alone and refuses to be afraid of her own shadow when walking home at night, rather than being tied to a sense of self-worth. The seed, however, is there, and if I had grown up under the circumstances that he did? Wow, I can't imagine the demons I would be wrestling with every single day.

I greatly admire the writer for not only achieving all that he did throughout his life, but also the way that he laid bare his deepest fears and the most unflattering parts of his past. I admire his character and his bravery, but most of all I think this book is important to read because it really gives you an understanding of all those boys and girls that society is so ready to give up on and throw away without ever giving them a proper chance in life. I think the author of the book It's Your Time You're Wasting needs to meet this man, they could give each other amazing perspective and be able to offer incredible insight into how to resolve these issues that are becoming ever more pressing in the UK.

If only there were more people that would listen.

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