Monday, January 19, 2015
Thunder Dog by Michael Hingson with Susy Flory
What a great book! This was a selection for my book club for our January meeting. I wasn't finished it in time for that meeting, but I'm glad I finished it afterwards. This book is the account of Michael Hingson and his guide dog as they escaped the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001. Michael became blind as a premature baby, after being exposed to too much oxygen in the hospital.
Not letting that stand in his way, Michael worked hard, went to college and embarked on a career in sales that landed him a job in the World Trade Center. After receiving his first guide dog at the age of 15, he didn't go anywhere without his dog by his side. So Roselle was there with him on that day, as she was any day.
The story weaves together their experiences on September 11th, along with stories from Michael's childhood, giving you an understanding of what it was like for him to grow up blind. Fascinating stuff.
There are so many good things about this book, but my what struck me the most was the attitude of Michael's parents. Michael was born in 1950. After his blindness was discovered, doctors recommended that he be placed in residential care, to ease the burden on his parents. This wasn't something his parents would even consider. They brought Michael home, and taught him that there wasn't anything he couldn't do and that allowed him to reach his full potential. He wasn't treated any differently than other kids, he went to public school, he rode a bike (leading to one of my favourite scenes in the book) and even bought himself a Ford Mustang! But his life could have been very different. If his parents had taken that advice, he would have had a very different experience. I love the bravery they showed, long before that was the common approach for parents to take. It's a great lesson for all of us in how we treat people we perceive as "different".
I can't recommend this book highly enough! It's an easy read, you'll likely find it fascinating and work through it quite quickly.