Literary Quote of the Month

"A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies," said Jojen. "The man who never reads lives only one." - George R.R. Martin, A Dance With Dragons

Saturday, February 13, 2016

Concussion by Jeanne Marie Laskas... A Review

My initial thought on reading Concussion by Jeanne Marie Laskas  was "Why"? Anyone who watched as little football as me even knew that it was a dangerous sport. How could a guy NOT get hurt ramming into another player with their head? Obviously, the NFL would try to marginalize the extent of the injuries for the public, but take care of their players... right? But then I kept seeing press for the movie. Definitely not my cup of tea - I'm not a football fan. But with all the coverage of this little book, and noticing that a copy of the book was sitting on the new book shelf at the library, I checked it out. And, how surprised was I that I was really enjoying the book! Not so much for the eye opening account of the NFL covering up their knowledge of the effects of concussions on their players, although the lengths the NFL went to do that was amazing and an incredible story in itself, but for the story of Dr. Bennet Omalu himself. His origins in war torn Nigeria are stuff movies are made of, and his journey to becoming the forensic pathologist that would change the world view on injuries to the brain is simply put, amazing. The story of how Dr. Omalu grew from a boy into a man, how his family and especially his father helped shape him, helps us understand the kind of person that would fight for what he believes in, and in this case, he believed (AND had irrefutable proof) that repeated head trauma caused serious long term health problems. The implications were catastrophic for a sport that glorified its toughness. But this also meant there was a significant danger to young children (high school and college age players) who participated in football.

What did I think of Concussion? I thought it was a great read! The writing was wonderful and reminded me a bit of Seabiscuit by Laura Hillenbrand, the way it flowed and kept my interest from start to finish. You know, sometimes nonfiction books can be dry, but this definitely was not. Jeanne Marie Laskas' writing just drew me in, even with a subject I had no initial interest in.  My favorite parts of the book were about Bennet Omalu growing up in Nigeria (frightening in respect to every day life in war torn Nigeria and interesting in respect to learning about his culture), his adjustments to life in America (so funny at times and so sad at other times) and how he met his wife and "pursued" her (definitely funny, and so much a "guy thing"). I found Concussion funny, sad, devastating and enlightening. I learned something about brains, and I learned something about Dr. Omalu's Nigerian culture. This book really has many things to offer, along with some great "real life" characters, and I would recommend it to anyone who enjoys a good story. No only is this a story about the NFL versus Science (and the little guy from Nigeria who started it all), but it is a story of family, compassion and doing what's right. I give it 4 stars.


Joy Weese Moll said...

I would never have guessed this would be such an interesting story. I heard on NPR recently that there are many fewer high school players than there used to be. Young men, even ones who love football, consider it too risky.

thecuecard said...

The doctor's own journey sounds amazing, on top of that: taking on the NFL is pretty incredible. I think I will get to this story in time.

Rachel said...

I think that would be a pretty scary book for me to read because my nephew plays football. Only as a 6th grader, but still. 6th graders do stupid things sometimes. So do grown men, apparently. :) But I'm glad you enjoyed this book!

Suzanne Yester said...

Hi Hibernators Library!
Yes, if I had a man in my life that played football, I would be concerned. Maybe because of this book and movie becoming so popular there will be more concern for safety. I do believe that the NFL has banned head contact. Still, there will be men who will defy the ban and risk injury and penalties.

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