Morales (Education/New Jersey City Univ.; How Protective Factors Mitigate Risk and Facilitate Academic Resilience Among Poor Minority College Students, 2010, etc.) offers a practical self-help book that addresses trauma and some people’s remarkable ability to bounce back from it.
Resilience is often seen as an intrinsic quality—either you’re born with it, or you aren’t. However, Morales tackles the concept as a quality that can be learned by breaking it down into its component parts: acceptance, meaning and action. He doesn’t make any flowery promises about becoming impervious to trauma or disappointment. In fact, he notes that “[r]esilient people go into the fire knowing they will probably get burned, and thinking of ways to minimize or avoid the effects.” Such people find a silver lining in the dark cloud of trauma, allowing adversity to fine-tune their strategies so that they don’t just survive, they thrive. Morales’ grounded, systematic approach keeps the book from being a page turner, but it’s well-written and speckled with helpful examples of resilient people—most real, a few imagined. As the author works his way through each component, he highlights the glue that holds the pieces together: contingency plans, persistence and finding ways to keep oneself motivated and enthusiastic. He illustrates his points with hands-on exercises; some may seem a little forced, such as making a list of the 10 things that most matter to you, then imagining their loss one by one. But Morales writes that although it may seem “brief and artificial, this can be a powerful reminder of why these things are so valuable.” There are occasional errors in spelling or word choice (“signing” instead of “singing”), but they ultimately don’t detract from the book’s smart, if sometimes academic, organization and delivery.
A concrete how-to aimed at helping readers become more resilient.