An inspiring, eye-opening introduction to a sport not to be confused with commercial wrestling.

An absorbing account of achievement by a one-legged college athlete who beat the odds and won the 2010-2011 NCAA individual wrestling championship.

In 2012, Robles, who is now an inspirational speaker, was awarded the Jimmy V Award for Perseverance and was inducted into the National Wrestling Hall of Fame. The author attributes much of his success to the encouragement he received from his mother, who was 16 and unmarried when he was born with one leg. “There is nothing wrong with you,” she told him constantly, a sentiment that has stuck with him. With assistance from Murphy (co-author: The Happiness of Pursuit: A Father's Courage, a Son's Love and Life's Steepest Climb, 2011, etc.), Robles describes his determination in the face of defeat, beginning in elementary school when he stood up to bullies. He played flag football but gravitated to wrestling where he could use his overall body strength more effectively. In middle school, he joined the wrestling team, and a supportive coach helped him develop an individual wrestling style (dropping “down low on the mat” where, he explains, he “was much more dangerous”). Despite his disability, with the help of crutches, he was able to keep up with the rigorously brutal training regimen that was required. Wrestling is a vigorous sport, requiring the exertion of almost every muscle in the body, and it demands mental as well as physical discipline in order to successfully counter an opponent's moves. Robles also describes his experiences with the politics of college athletics.

An inspiring, eye-opening introduction to a sport not to be confused with commercial wrestling.

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2012

ISBN: 978-1-592-40777-4

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Gotham Books

Review Posted Online: Aug. 12, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2012


The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...

Elie Wiesel spent his early years in a small Transylvanian town as one of four children. 

He was the only one of the family to survive what Francois Maurois, in his introduction, calls the "human holocaust" of the persecution of the Jews, which began with the restrictions, the singularization of the yellow star, the enclosure within the ghetto, and went on to the mass deportations to the ovens of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. There are unforgettable and horrifying scenes here in this spare and sombre memoir of this experience of the hanging of a child, of his first farewell with his father who leaves him an inheritance of a knife and a spoon, and of his last goodbye at Buchenwald his father's corpse is already cold let alone the long months of survival under unconscionable conditions. 

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the sphere of suffering shared, and in this case extended to the death march itself, there is no spiritual or emotional legacy here to offset any reader reluctance.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2006

ISBN: 0374500010

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Hill & Wang

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006



Well-told and admonitory.

Young-rags-to-mature-riches memoir by broker and motivational speaker Gardner.

Born and raised in the Milwaukee ghetto, the author pulled himself up from considerable disadvantage. He was fatherless, and his adored mother wasn’t always around; once, as a child, he spied her at a family funeral accompanied by a prison guard. When beautiful, evanescent Moms was there, Chris also had to deal with Freddie “I ain’t your goddamn daddy!” Triplett, one of the meanest stepfathers in recent literature. Chris did “the dozens” with the homies, boosted a bit and in the course of youthful adventure was raped. His heroes were Miles Davis, James Brown and Muhammad Ali. Meanwhile, at the behest of Moms, he developed a fondness for reading. He joined the Navy and became a medic (preparing badass Marines for proctology), and a proficient lab technician. Moving up in San Francisco, married and then divorced, he sold medical supplies. He was recruited as a trainee at Dean Witter just around the time he became a homeless single father. All his belongings in a shopping cart, Gardner sometimes slept with his young son at the office (apparently undiscovered by the night cleaning crew). The two also frequently bedded down in a public restroom. After Gardner’s talents were finally appreciated by the firm of Bear Stearns, his American Dream became real. He got the cool duds, hot car and fine ladies so coveted from afar back in the day. He even had a meeting with Nelson Mandela. Through it all, he remained a prideful parent. His own no-daddy blues are gone now.

Well-told and admonitory.

Pub Date: June 1, 2006

ISBN: 0-06-074486-3

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Amistad/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2006

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