Have you ever read a book and as soon as you finished it, you turned around and re-read it immediately? This was one of those books for me.
I think writing a good, honest book review is difficult because you want to share all the things you loved about it without removing the lure to hook someone into wanting to read the book for themselves. I will do my best to accomplish this and can only hope I do it justice.
A great book appeals to everyone, and while I think this book accomplishes that, I want to specifically indicate some people I think would benefit from reading this book the most. If you are a combat veteran, this book is for you. If you are a physical therapist, a nurse, a doctor, a psychiatrist or a suicide prevention counselor, this book is for you. If you are a civilian who has had a son, daughter, brother, sister, cousin, father or mother return from combat service, this book is for you. If you are the wife or girlfriend of a combat veteran, this book is for you. If you are someone who is working through a substance abuse problem of any kind, current or former, this book is for you. If you have ever suffered a traumatic injury, in battle or otherwise, this book is for you. Finally, if you are someone looking at your situation as if you are a victim and feel that you do not have control over your life and its trajectory, this book is for you.
If you have ever read an inspirational book, you are no doubt familiar with the "character meets a challenge and has their come up" style in which they are typically written. This is not your typical inspirational book, but it's the best kind in my opinion. It's the best because it feels genuine in that the author, Braxton McCoy, does less "here's what I did, it'll work for you too" and more "here's what I did and didn't do and I hope it helps you." The work rings far more cathartic and well-intentioned than any that I've read in recent years.
Braxton takes you on a journey and begins with a moment that I think few people can imagine experiencing. He comes to terms with his own mortality in the form of changing his boots. I refuse to go into anymore detail than that because I want you to feel compelled to find out what I mean.
Following the events from that day, Braxton takes the reader through a multi-faceted battle of recovery. He gives an extensive peek behind the curtain of what the mind and body of an injured combat veteran feels, thinks, sees and experiences after being torn away from the only life they have identified with since the moment they were sworn in.
One of the hardest chapters for me to read was "Arlington." Again, I'm not going to go into extensive detail here, but the theme of the chapter is about living a life worthy of those who paid the ultimate sacrifice. Survivor's guilt is a real thing and it's very hard to come to terms with if you aren't honestly doing everything you can to ensure that those who sacrificed didn't do so in vain. I will briefly interject my personal opinion here, Braxton says nothing of this sort, but I feel that more people in this country, especially in recent months, need to take a long look in the mirror and ask themselves if they are living a life worthy of the hundreds of thousands of men and women who have died to give them the freedoms they have the pleasure of taking advantage of daily.
My favorite part of this book, and I haven't shared it with him yet but I think he'll appreciate this, is Braxton's inner monologue throughout the entire story. As you're reading what is taking place outside his mind, you're "hearing" what his thoughts are and what he'd really like to say inside his mind. (In the same situation, I am pretty sure I would have said 90% of the same things.) You get a real look at what the quintessential, "I'm fine" phrase looks like behind the veil.
Reading this story brings a healthy perspective to what struggles look like outside of ourselves. As I read this book for the second time, I was sick with pneumonia. I would find myself feeling pitiful and puny and then I'd read about one of Braxton's luxurious PT sessions and decided that I probably should go run a marathon instead of laying on the couch, bitching. Perspective is healthy and I think as you read through his story, you see how overcoming obstacles is a long, hard and arduous journey.....How long that journey lasts, though, is up to you. Not everything is your fault, but overcoming anything is your responsibility.
Braxton is imperfect, as we all are, and he shares those imperfections with a grace and humility that anyone would admire. He also was insistent on never listening to anyone, including himself, when being told "you can't." The theme of the book is slaying your dragons and the best way of doing that is by living the virtues of courage, integrity, honor and selflessness. Having read Braxton's story, twice now, and connecting with him through social media and having the opportunity to catch a glimpse into the man he is today I would say he's doing a damn good job of it.
A percentage of the profits from book sales goes to a non-profit called "Labs for Liberty" which places custom-trained service dogs for military veterans with PTSD and physical limitations. Please consider picking up a copy of his book at www.braxtonmccoy.com/theglassfactory and I guarantee that you will not be disappointed.