Book Review: A Fighting Chance: A 40-Year Journey from My Birth until My Brother’s Death

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A book of positive outcomes despite some of the toughest of times!

A Fighting Chance, by Daniel Blanchard, is a memoir in which the author has decided to revisit some of the most harrowing times of his life in order to move forward for himself, his family, and his students. I can understand why it took him until after losing his father to open up and trust readers with some very private and undeniably shameful-feeling stories of his own abuse and his ability to rise above it. 

Daniel Blanchard grew up in Connecticut and came from a family with low economic resources. His mother, a nurse, was the leading provider for the family, as his father, who also worked, spent his money on drinking and other things that suited him, not considering his kids. Daniel was one of six kids and, being one of the oldest, realized as he grew up that it would be his job to keep the others and his mother safe. There was verbal and emotional abuse as well as physical abuse. Despite the awful stories he shares with us, regrettably, Daniel’s older brother Chris was the first target and the most abused. It is a sad story of survival and of one boy’s rise to major accomplishments. Daniel achieved accolades in multiple sports and even went on to coach his own children’s sports teams. He is now a father of five, happily married, and successful in all realms of his life. His former life is like a horrible nightmare that he may now be able to leave behind. The positive note to acknowledge is all of the learning Daniel had in his recollections, learning more about who he was, who his brother was, and all they had to deal with. 

I was shocked and amazed to hear about the troubles Daniel and his siblings faced growing up. I too grew up in Connecticut and have even worked in some of the same places Daniel talks about in his book as I was also a teacher of emotionally disturbed children in one of the state’s poorest cities. But the most impressive part was to read of all of his accomplishments despite all of the barriers which were in front of him growing up. I gave this book four out of five stars for its heartfelt writing and the continual uplifting spirit Daniel seems to weave throughout his story, both in real life and on the pages of the book. It is unclear whether Daniel’s sisters suffered in the home as well, and there is not much mention of them once they were old enough to move out of that harsh household. 

I recommend this book, especially to educators, those who have kids like this in front of them every day whether they are aware of it or not. Unfortunately, there are limits to what an outsider can actually do when it comes to abuse in the home, but those limits must be tested so we may help heal many of these poor children. I also recommend this book to all the boys and girls who feel like there is no hope for them because Daniel has clearly exemplified the ability to overcome some of life’s worst adversities. 

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