When he was in high school, all he wanted to do was play football. "While I'd never been the most talented on the football field, I had a tremendous amount of self-assurance and a strong work ethic" (Martinez 54). He moved before his senior year to Dalton, Georgia. There, he made the football team. His coach told him making the team had "'nothing to do with your ability and everything to do with your attitude'" (qtd. in Martinez 55). He was "full of heart" (title reference here!) and became "J.R." instead of "Jose Martinez" to start a new beginning (Martinez 55).
After high school, J. R. joined the army and was sent to Iraq. While on patrol, his Humvee hit a roadside bomb. (This happens on page 93 of the book). I appreciate the honest description of his time in the hospital. He was mad. He was in pain. He thought his life was over (he was only 19 when the accident happened). There's a good portion of the book dedicated to both the physical and emotional rehab that J.R. went through in order to heal. As a reader, I felt like part of me was sitting beside his hospital bed. I understood his mother's concern and was so proud of the town of Dalton rallying around this family.
I marked a part in the book that I kept thinking while reading.
"One thing about being in the spotlight is having people come up to me because they've heard my story or read an article about me or watched me on television. Almost invariable, they say, 'I don't think I could've gone through that at age nineteen.'Martinez then goes on to explain why he wrote the book. "People need to understand and accept that everything we go through in life will prepare us for our own big explosion....No matter what, we are all going to face the unexpected (and unwanted) challenges in our lives, and what matters is the way we cope" (Martinez 226).
And almost invariable, I say, 'With all due respect, what makes you think I was ready to go through that?'" (Martinez 226).