Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Book Review: Off Balanced by Zachary Fenell

Several months ago - and I mean several - Zachary asked me if I'd like to review his book. I enthusiastically said yes, and then life got in the way. Zachary, thank you for your patience!

Off-Balanced is a biography of Zachary Fennell's  life as a teenager with CP. That's cerebral palsy for those who don't know. It tells of his struggles with girls, friends,driving, and life with a well-meaning but overprotective mother and a hard-working father he rarely sees.

Staying home on Friday nights was the norm because he didn't have the greatest self-esteem like some who can joke about their disability. Zach lives life in somewhat of a shell...until meeting Chase and Randy. Even then, he let his disability overpower him and shrank back from conversations. This caused people not to ask him much of anything. If asked how he was doing by a classmate, "Okay" was his standard, unenthusiastic reply.

As time passes, he begins to lighten up and form friendships with Sami and Rob. I started really getting into the book when Zach entered Notre Dame college. Zach found his niche when joining the Notre Dame News! It was like the words he struggled to say found their way on the printed page and - wonder of wonders - people LIKED it! 

This was the next to the last chapter, and I really felt like the book should have been longer or at least followed by a sequel because Zach's story was really getting good. The first half of the book was hard for me to get into because I'm not person who does self-pity. I'm more of a glass half-full type of girl. I also couldn't relate to the social awkwardness that Zach felt (nor the fact that he was never bullied or teased). Yes, I was made fun of, but I've always been a talker! I enjoyed Zach's story because it allowed me to see things from a male perspective. Males and females are so different!

I could relate to learning InDesign, though and really respected his dedication to the newspaper. I cringed at some of the VERY late night deadlines! The book ended with a very powerful scene that was a turning point in Zach's life. 

If a sequel is ever done, I would love to know about Zach's life after college. How does he cope as an adult? Does he keep his new found confidence? Do Rob and Sami keep in touch? What is he doing now? 

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the author in exchange for a review. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.