Friday, December 12, 2014

Making it through tragedy: Inspiring true stories.

Still LoLo, by Lauren Scruggs with Marcus Brotherton.
This story is a stunning and unexpected tale of tragedy, survival, and true beauty. For fashion journalist Lauren (LoLo) Scruggs, a short flight to look at Christmas lights turned into a nightmare when she was struck by the plane’s spinning propeller blades. As Lauren was rushed to the hospital, fighting for her life, the world watched in shock and horror. Several major surgeries and thousands of prayers later, Lauren was still alive. But she had suffered brain trauma and lost her left hand and left eye. Some thought that this would be the end of everything for her, a beautiful young woman working in an industry focused completely on appearance. They were wrong. In Still LoLo, Lauren reveals what really happened that night, how she survived against all odds, and what her life is like today. Through her story, Lauren calls us all to live a life without fear and to overcome whatever challenges threaten to limit us. It is a compelling and fiercely beautiful account of faith, determination, and staying true to who you are---no matter what.  

Stronger, by Jeff Bauman with Bret Witter.
When Jeff Bauman woke up in the Boston Medical Center on Tuesday, April 16, 2013, groggy from a series of lifesaving surgeries and missing his legs, the first thing he did was rip out his breathing tube to try to speak. When he realized he couldn’t, he asked for a pad and paper and wrote down seven words: “Saw the guy. Looked right at me,” setting off one of the biggest manhunts in the country’s history. Just thirty hours before, Jeff had been at the finish line of the 2013 Boston Marathon cheering on his girlfriend, Erin, when the first bomb went off at his feet. Up until that marathon, Jeff had been a normal twenty-seven-year-old guy, looking forward to moving in with Erin and starting the next phase of their lives together. But when his life was turned upside down in ways he could never have fathomed, Jeff did not give up. Instead he faced his new circumstances with grace, humor and a sense of purpose, and he was determined, no matter what, to walk again. In Stronger, Jeff describes the FBI investigation, his grueling rehabilitation, his guilt, frustration, compassion, and the courage of his fellow survivors. Jeff’s story is not just his, but ours as well. It proves that the terrorists accomplished nothing with their act of cowardice and shows the entire world what Boston Strong really means. 

Finding Me, A Decade of Darkness, a Life Reclaimed, by Michelle Knight with Michelle Burford.
Michelle Knight was kidnapped in 2002 by a Cleveland school bus driver. For more than a decade afterward she endured unimaginable torture at the hand of her abductor. In 2003 another young lady joined her in captivity, followed by still another in 2004. Their escape on May 6, 2013, made headlines around the world. What really happened in that house, and how did Michelle find the strength to go on? Michelle was estranged from her family and fighting for custody of her young son when she disappeared. Local police believed she had run away, so they removed her from the missing persons lists fifteen months after she vanished. Her abductor tormented her with these facts, reminding her that no one was looking for her, that the outside world had forgotten her. But Michelle would not be broken. Heartbreaking, shocking, and ultimately triumphant, Finding Me reveals the details of Michelle’s story. In sharing both her past and her efforts to create a future, Michelle becomes a voice for the voiceless and a powerful symbol of hope for the thousands of children and young adults who go missing every year.  

The Promise: A Tragic Accident, A Paralyzed Bride, and the Power of Love, Loyalty, and Friendship, by Rachelle Friedman.
Just weeks before her wedding, four of Rachelle’s friends threw her a bachelorette party. At the end of a perfect evening of dancing and celebration, they decided to take a moonlight swim. One of her friends playfully pushed her into the water. Rachelle broke her neck, and she was paralyzed from the chest down. Two feet to the right, and she would have been in the deep end. Two feet to the right, and she would still be walking. Two feet changed the course of her life forever. That’s it: two feet. The Promise is a powerful memoir of resilience, love and loyalty. It is also about the relationship with her fiance, their struggle with her paralysis and rehab, the physical challenges of intimacy, and ultimately, their fairy-tale wedding. It’s the story of true integrity, and also about finding the incredible strength inside each of us we never knew we had.

My Story, by Elizabeth Smart with Chris Stewart.
On June 5, 2002, fourteen-year-old Elizabeth Smart, the daughter of a close-knit Mormon family, was taken from her home in the middle of the night by religious fanatic Brian David Mitchell and his wife, Wanda Barzee. She was kept chained, dressed in disguise, repeatedly raped, and told she and her family would be killed if she tried to escape. After her rescue on March 12, 2003, she rejoined her family and worked to pick up the pieces of her life. Now for the first time, she tells of the constant fear she endured every hour, her courageous determination to maintain hope, and how she devised a plan to manipulate her captors and convinced them to return to Utah, where she was rescued minutes after arriving. Smart explains how her faith helped her stay sane in the midst of a nightmare and how she found the strength to confront her captors at their trial and see that justice was served. In the ten years after her rescue, Smart transformed herself from victim to advocate, traveling the country and working to educate, inspire, and foster change. She has created a foundation to help prevent crimes against children and is a frequent public speaker.

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