LIFE IS NOT AN ACCIDENT by Jay Williams

LIFE IS NOT AN ACCIDENT

A Memoir of Reinvention
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KIRKUS REVIEW

Memoir/cautionary tale by former basketball star Williams, whose fortunes were utterly changed a decade ago following a motorcycle accident.

The author, the second overall pick of the 2002 NBA draft, grew up in wonderfully loving circumstances that any child might long for, his parents champions of stability and strong advocates of education, affectionate and supportive though not without frailties. Moving South to go to college at Duke University as a highly recruited point guard, he experienced racism; though his personal view is that “all that matters is being a good person and putting in the work,” it’s clear that others who are less evolved are going to pose impediments. The Blue Devil champion wasn’t even bent on self-destruction but instead did something dumb, taking to the streets on a high-performance motorcycle and hitting a light pole at speed, leading to a host of medical difficulties that it would take years to reckon with. Williams is even-tempered and pleasant throughout the book; he accepts responsibility for his fate without beating himself up too much. The reasonableness and niceness are fine in life but perhaps less effective in literature; without much conflict, in other words, there’s not much tension to give this memoir any snap. Readers will feel for Williams, and the tone is earnest, the content entirely reasonable—and predictable to a note: thanks are due to God, Mom, Coach (“when Mike Krzyzewski talks, you listen. He is intimidating and comforting at the same time”), and, of course, the doctors (“as physically imposing as [the doctor] was, he was the dictionary definition of a gentle giant”). The best parts of the book are the author’s later reflections on the role of sport in the lives of young men and women, especially those who have no other advantages.

Of a piece with other inspirational and aspirational memoirs by athletes who have overcome adversity.

Pub Date: Jan. 26th, 2016
ISBN: 978-0-06-232798-7
Page count: 272pp
Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins
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