Book Review: “The Blind Side” by Michael Lewis

Michael Oher (Williams) was an black teenager that was almost abandoned by his alcoholic mother and absentee father. If it were not for his special physical build perfectly fit for a left-tackle (quarterback’s blind side, thus the book title) and his unique athletic talent, he would probably go through life unnoticed by everyone as in his early life. Thanks to Big Tony, his family friend, who brought him to Briarcrest High School and managed to got him enrolled in the school, despite his near-zero scholastic aptitude. But without the love from his adopted white family: Sean & Leigh Anne Tuohy and their 2 kids, Collins & Sean Jr., as shown in the movie trailer, A Diamond in the Rough.

There were many sub-stories that built up the main story, including how the left tackle became the second highest paid position in football because the newer passing game trumpeted by Bill Walsh who made the quarterback a critical position. The history of football game was briefly described to establish the critical nature of the left-tackle, quarterback’s blind-side line of defense. How Michael managed to eked out high enough grade with BYU’s on-line course to pass the stringent NCAA college admission requirement was described in great details. The story then detours to describe how Steve Wallace became the most valuable left tackle for 49ers and won 3 Super Bowls. The story of Steve Wallace’s transformation came alive with Lewis’ magical narration.

I was hooked on Michael Lewis’ work after reading his Money Ball. This one is no exception. What a wonderful story of rags-to-riches! I particularly like that way the author got the readers interested with a “hook” and flash back to tell the story, instead of the usual chronological order. However, the story got a little long toward the end. The discussion about all the potential black athletes who never got a chance because they never made it to graduate from high school seems to leave room for future work. It also went to reinforce how lucky Michael Oher was, even with his talent.