An inspirational memoir by a writer who refuses to be defined by his paralysis, as he comes to terms with the unknown man who shot him.
As an intelligent, talented, athletic and slightly rebellious 13-year-old from what was then the ghetto of Manhattan’s Lower East Side, McGill experienced a tragedy in 1982 that would lead to epiphany. Walking home with a friend on New Year’s Day, he fell victim to a senseless, apparently motiveless gunshot from an unseen sniper. His initial recovery required six months in the hospital, where he learned to adjust to his new life as a quadriplegic, discovering the ways that he could take care of himself and the limits to what he could do. The incident would transform his life, in surprisingly positive ways as well as predictably negative ones, as he explains in this memoir addressed to the man who shot him, a man he will never know but to whom he forever feels linked. “Until I speak to you, I can never fully close this door,” he writes. “And I need that resolution. I think I’ve earned it.” He gives his shooter a name, a race and a plausibility that led him to this unfocused violence. But while he’s addressing the “Marcus” he has invented, he is also exorcising justifiable anger and offering his own life as an example of the rewards one can reap by accepting loss and learning the value of love. “I didn’t write this book for you, Marcus,” he writes. “My reasons for writing this are bigger than you or me, my friend. I wrote this book to release demons into the warm night air.”
Such a literary flourish is an exception to the matter-of-fact approach that characterizes the narrative, where most of the lessons learned are plainspoken, but also hard won.