The Blind Side
I read The Blind Side in mid-October. I think it was the last book I read before the wedding, and never had any chance to write my thoughts down, but then, as of now, my thoughts in short would be:
The Blind Side is a phenomenal book.
OK, that’s probably not descriptive enough, but it is pretty much the story. Author Michael Lewis, who has been consistently good from Liar’s Poker to Moneyball. His latest book focuses on Michael Oher,. Oher is…well, the brilliance of Lewis’ book is synthesizing all the accurate ways to describe him.
Oher is at once a lost African-American 15-year old, rummaging around the Memphis area, with no real home to speak of. His father is virtually unknown, his mother caught up in drugs and alcohol.
Oher is also a giant, over 300 lbs as a 15 year old, and none of it fat. The “blind side” of Lewis’ title refers not only to the kind of society that ignores the reality of a Michael Oher, rudderless and wasting away, but also to that position in football. The blind side protects the quarterback, most often at left tackle for right handed passers. Lewis spends some good time discussing the offensive line in football, something under valued by most casual fans of the sport. Michael Oher, likely to his own surprise, is unnaturally suited to play left tackle, the critical position on the line.
Through a story far too interesting to even recap, Oher gets taken in by a white Evangelical Christian family who take in Oher not because of his future earning potential, but because they want to see him get his degree. His high school degree. Oher is a virtual cipher, someone who has never really learned anything, because he’s never really had any teachers or role models. Eventually, as Oher works through high school and his talent becomes obvious to everyone, he becomes one of the most sought after prospects by the NCAA.
The book is fascinating, but mainly because Lewis paints such an interesting picture. Sean and Leigh Anne Touhy, the wealthy, white Evangelical Christian family who adopt Oher, are almost wholesome in their intentions – they just realize they can’t let someone like Oher get ignored by the system. Gradually, he becomes a part of their family in every conceivable way, despite the fact that their backgrounds are polar opposites.
The Blind Side is about. It’s a phenomenal story, which was also summarized in a New York Times magazine feature called “The Ballad of Big Mike.” Lewis’ book Moneyball was presumptively about baseball, but it was also about challenging conventional ways of thinking, about resisting things that are done in fashion because tradition says it’s so. In the same way, The Blind Side is not really about football, or the offensive line, or really even just about Michael Oher. It’s about class, and race, and sport,
Seriously, read the book. One of the best of the year.