Among the hundreds of new books arriving for summer, we’re seeing armies of main characters once again are heroically facing life-threatening challenges. Oddly—among spiritual books—a depressing number of heroes die. For example, Zondervan’s hot new “Letters to God” is often described as a “weepie,” because this fictional book-and-movie combo tells about a little boy who is dying of cancer and pens heart-warming notes to God. We’re not slamming “Letters to God” and—if it inspires you to greater compassion—then there’s nothing wrong with shedding a few tears.
But, today, we’re offering a different kind of recommendation in our Great Summer Reading and Viewing series: “Rise and Shine: The Extraordinary Story of One Man’s Journey from Near Death to Full Recovery.” That’s right: Unlike “Letters to God,” this book is non-fiction. And, unlike the “weepies” genre, the hero of “Rise and Shine” … well, he rises and he shines! That’s not a spoiler considering the good news is part of the book’s title.
Simon Lewis is a TV and movie producer with some popular shows to his credit, including the Hume Cronyn film, “Age Old Friends,” which still is popular on DVD . Throughout his recovery over the past decade, he has consulted and served as executive producer on many other productions. Visit Simon’s own website and you’ll find names like Howie Mandel, Kelsey Grammer and Michelle Philips urging you to read his book—along with an impressive array of medical-care authorities trying to spread the news that life is possible even after traumatic brain injuries. In fact, Lewis now devotes time to promoting better care and stronger support for recovering men and women.
So, what kind of a “read” is this? In 350 pages, Lewis takes us from the horrendous accident through his amazing recovery from his own perspective as the person suddenly caught up in all of these medical, physical and spiritual challenges. Lewis isn’t a name dropper and this definitely is not a Hollywood “tell all” book. In fact, there’s almost nothing in this book about his career as a producer. Instead, Lewis wants us to realize that any of us could wind up in his hospital bed—almost without warning. The opening pages of the book are a little scary, in fact, as we learn some stark facts about the dangers of head injuries.
What hooked me was a section early in the book in which Lewis describes the surreal free association of memories, old dreams and new experiences within his traumatized brain. As I read that passage, I recalled helping to care for my own brother after a devastating trauma to his brain—and hearing him talk about the weird free associations that the trauma seemed to knock loose. I could hear my own brother’s conversations replaying as I read Lewis’ pages about these strange sensations. As I connected in this way, Lewis’ story rang true and I kept turning pages.
Lewis faced years of challenges—some of those challenges similar to crises you may have faced in your own family. Clearly, Lewis wants us to connect like that. I like his honesty as a narrator and you will, too. As you move through Lewis’ tale, he never boasts. He doesn’t cheer about his spiritual zeal, never parades his famous friends. He’s simply inviting us on a journey of recovery. Like my own immediate association with my brother’s case, I’ll bet many readers will quickly find personal connections in this pilgrimage toward health.
ENJOY OUR ENTIRE GREAT SUMMER READING AND VIEWING SERIES: (Our series so far: “Crown of Aleppo,” “Science Vs. Religion,” “Belief,” “Apparition,” “Burma VJ,” “Facets World Cup,” “Mary Mae and the Gospel Truth” and “The Lonely Polygamist.”)
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(Originally published at http://www.ReadTheSpirit.com/)