Book Review: Thunder Dog, by Michael Hingson with Susy Flory

thunder_dog“My head is spinning. So much has happened in such a short time, and my mind reels, going over the events and trying to make sense of the explosion…” – Michael Hingson, p. 123-124

Michael Hingson is an ordinary man. He’s flown a plane, had several jobs, drives sometimes, has friends, is a Christian, and is married. And he’s permanently and totally blind.

This true story is what happened on 9/11/2001 when a blind man and his guide dog were on the 78th floor in the World Trade Center’s North tower as the first hijacked plane hit. Michael and Roselle were paired as man and guide dog for twenty-one months previously, and everything in their lives together seemed to lead up to this. Since Michael can’t see anything, he depends on what he hears, feels, smells, and breathes. He also depends on Roselle, and has to trust her very much on this terrifying day. They helped each other. They were a team working as one.

I personally loved this autobiography. Through books, I can say I’ve experienced what it’s like to be homeless, be a winner, be a gorilla, live through segregation, be a spy, live in a “crazy” family, live in a giant peach, and many other things. Oh, and now be blind. It’s a very gracious experience, and Thunder Dog has given me a new appreciation for people with disabilities.

I really like all of the details in this book. This is one of those books where you can travel back in time to a certain day, yet be home in time for supper. We all have some huge tragedy or trauma in our lives. We can choose to learn from it and teach others, or spend all our lives feeling bad for ourselves. Michael chose to teach others.

Although this book is wonderful, I do not suggest it for teens/tweens under 12 years old because it is an adult book. But it really depends on individual maturity level. For those who do choose to read this, from me to you, good reading!

-Danielle L., 6th grade

Book Review: Wooden, by John Wooden

wooden_coverWooden, by John Wooden with a foreword by Steve Jamison, is– well, in a way an autobiography of Coach Wooden’s life, yet this really isn’t considered an autobiography. To me, it’s a book on how to live a better life, during the good times of your life, and the tough times too.

Coach Wooden was the head coach at UCLA, and during his coaching reign he won 10 NCAA championships in 12 years and also won 88 straight games which still remains a record today for the Bruins. This story emphasizes Wooden’s feelings and his beliefs that he has carried all the way from his early childhood in a farm in Indiana.

He shares these beliefs with us in order to show how they work in life, and also why should we act in this specific way or form. This book is supposed to be a book in which you can reflect on your own life and see where your weakness are, and then well strengthen and also fix that specific weakness that you are having in your life.

This book I would surely recommend to every age. Coach Wooden has been a role model to me, and I am very sure he will be a strong example of a role model to you as well. The life of a remarkable, and humble hero– Coach John Wooden.

-Robert N., 10th grade

Book Review: Home: A Memoir of My Early Years, by Julie Andrews Edwards

home_memoir_coverJulie Andrews’ autobiography, Home: A Memoir of My Early Years, shares with the reader the hardships and rewards of becoming a famous Broadway and Hollywood star. This book is fascinating to me, because like Andrews, I love to sing, dance, and read. Although I do not dream of becoming a famous icon, I find those who follow the road to becoming one interesting and undeniably courageous.

Julie Andrews’ story begins in London, England during World War II. Julie Andrews spends her childhood constantly in voice lessons and traveling to perform with her parents, and she describes despising her voice lessons as a child. Little did she know that later- in her teen years- she would come to appreciate and use her voice as her ticket to stardom. Despite her parents’ painful divorce and her mother’s flighty behavior, Julie Andrews succeeds in becoming a well-respected performer in her home country.

Andrews writes that although she thoroughly enjoyed traveling with a company and performing, she always felt responsible for her family, and she hated to be away from them. Julie Andrews is admirable because when she is offered a two year contract to perform as Eliza Doolittle from “My Fair Lady,” she insists on making it one year so that she can come home to care for her siblings. Most girls looking to make it on Broadway would snatch up the offer and leave their family to fend for themselves.

Julie Andrews was a talented, compassionate, responsible, composed young lady; respected by many as one of America’s greatest icons. With the help of the much-loved Walt Disney, Julie Andrews became a star on-screen as well as on-stage. One might say Julie Andrews is best known for her perfect role as Mary Poppins, the beloved nanny; but I love her most for her role as Maria in The Sound of Music for her carefree attitude and loving heart.

I recommend this book to all who love Julie Andrews’ work, and find themselves, like me, in awe at those who take such risks to discover themselves.

-Kelsey H., 10th grade

Author Interview: Chad Williams

chadwilliams Author and former Navy SEAL, Chad Williams, visited Mission Viejo in March, and two members of the Mission Viejo Library Teen Voice took the initiative to interview him about his Navy SEAL experiences and the faith journey he shares in his memoir, Seal of God.

Q: Why do you believe that being a Navy SEAL always stood out to you?

A: “Being a Navy SEAL stood out to me because I saw it as the most difficult military training in the world. In my mind, it really was top of the mountain and I see being a Navy SEAL as being a part of the most elite. And that was something I wanted to aim for. I didn’t want to be just mediocre- I wanted to do something really big.”

Q: How did you feel when you were working the gun when your team was ambushed capturing the terrorist in Iraq?

A: “My initial thought was, ‘Wow, this is for real. If I get hit by one of these bullets that are coming at me, it’s not like a training exercise where you are just going to feel a sting from a simulation round. But these bullets are real, and could take an arm off, and in a split second I could be standing before God all of sudden.’ I  do remember thinking about some of the other SEALs that were on the ground, getting shot at, hoping ‘I hope that none of these guys get hit, because I know where I’m going when I die, but for some of them it is kind of uncertain.'”

Q: What are your feelings now toward your team-members of Team 1 who ostracized you?

A: “I have nothing but love for those guys; nothing but forgiveness is what I feel towards them. If  I saw one of them, I’d go running up to them on the street, and just tell them, ‘Hey man, I love you guys and no hard feelings,’ and I would want to share the gospel with them.”

Continue reading