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Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Book Review: "In a Heartbeat" (Leigh Anne & Sean Tuohy)

TITLE: IN A HEARTBEAT - sharing the power of cheerful giving
AUTHORS: Leigh Anne and Sean TUOHY, with Sally Jenkins
PUBLISHER: New York, NY: Henry Holt & Company, 2010, (271pp)

If you have seen the movie, "The Blind Side," you will want to pick up this book. Written in a matter of fact manner, with both humour and Southern frankness of opinion, the authors share insightful details about how they become cheerful givers. Their giving culture can be summed up by their 'pop-corn theory,' which is:
"You can't help everyone. But you can try to help the hot ones who pop right up in front of your face." (1)

What the Book is About

It is about the need for cheerful giving, and how giving can be an contagious exercise in itself. The Tuohys share their struggles openly and honestly without batting an eye. Words flow freely and when it comes to giving, readers will not fail to spot the conviction behind every word and action. Convictions like:
  • "No one has ever become poor by giving." (Anne Frank, quoted in the preface)
  •  "Character is something that you cannot buy, and it's something that cannot be taken from you. You can only lose it. It's the most important thing you own." (Sean)
  • "We all begin on the same page and we're all going to end on the same page." (Sean)
  • "A person's true character is judged by how he acts and reacts to someone who has no consequences in his life whatsoever." (Sean)
  • "No matter what our origins, backgrounds, faiths, or traditions, we are all the same." (Leigh Anne)
  • "Do small things with great love." (Leigh Anne)
 The giving culture also extends to the writing of the book. Contributions from their three children, SJ, Collins, and Michael, with inputs from actors Tim McGraw (who played Sean in The Blind Side), and Sandra Bullock (who played Leigh Anne in The Blind Side), are interleaved between the chapters of the Tuohy couple. They have an ability to laugh at themselves, and yet able to hone in on the essentials of human character at a serious level. They are uncompromising in their parenting, and believes that there are lesser parenting problems in the future if discipline starts early. Likewise, giving starts early for their kids.

"In the end we decided we often confuse the power of giving with the effectiveness of giving. Giving was powerful by itself; it needed no help from the recipient to be meaningful. . . . My responsibility is to be happy with the act of giving, and not expecting a result." (Sean, 112)
Toward the end, the couple shares their struggle with fame, and how the movie has impacted all of them, and how it has made them wiser.

My Comments
I like this book, and the say-in-in-your-face conviction of the Tuohys. The way in which Leigh Anne bosses her household may come across as intimidating. When you read this book, and the convictions of the lady, you will invariably become more understanding than critical. Unlike most dramatizations, the Tuohys admit that the on-screen Tuohy is very close to the real-life Tuohys. This is encouraging.

This book deserves to be read by lay persons who are thinking of sacrificial giving, but have yet to take the plunge. Giving is an adventure, as demonstrated by the Tuohys. It is a risk given without expecting a reward. It is a step of faith that speaks louder than words. The hit movie, the Blind Side tends to focus more on the rise of Michael Oher, who became a NFL star. This book focuses more on the background that makes it all possible. For me, after watching the movie edition, I was saying to myself:
"so this is how Hollywood wants Bible believing Christians to behave."
This book is a good corrective to such thinking. After reading this book, I feel that the one that is doing most of the talking is the Tuohy family lifestyle. What Hollywood does is to simply act it out.If you have watched The Blind Side movie, you ought to pick up this book to let giving become a cheer in itself. Let me close with one of the quotes Leigh Anne is said to carry around with her. It is from Billy Graham.

"The legacy we leave is not just in our possessions, but in the quality of our lives. The greatest waste in all our earth, which can no be recycled or reclaimed, is our waste of the time that God has given us each day." (254)
Rating: 4 of 5 stars.


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