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4 out of 4 stars
Review by CataclysmicKnight
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From Blue Ribbon to Code Blue by Jennifer Miller Field with Joanne Field is a nonfiction autobiography. Despite an accident that left Jennifer with a multitude of physical and mental issues (after a rough 2 months in a coma!), this is not a pity party. It's not even the story of a girl who could have been somebody and is simply still alive today. Instead, From Blue Ribbon to Code Blue is a book about "bouncing forward" into a "new normal" and doing something else incredibly awesome with her life: writing, giving motivational speeches, graduating college and so much more.
The book begins by showing just what a fierce competitor and dedicated girl Jennifer is in the equestrian world. Once the accident happens, Jennifer applies that same dedication to recovery. The whole right side of her body was paralyzed and doctors were sure she'd never speak again due to her diffuse closed head injury and the issues her body faced while in her coma. Instead of simply accepting it, her mother Joanne spent every moment searching for treatments. Without even the internet for guidance, Joanne never quit searching for possibilities, from traditional to alternative (one even involved burps!). The combination of the two relentless women makes for one heck of an inspiring book!
The book is very well polished and it's incredibly clear a lot of thought went into the format of it. There are great photos, a few poems Jennifer wrote and even a piece she painted included along with the story. Joanne also has parts written in the book, and her insights as a mother (especially while Jennifer was in the coma) really add a lot. Anything written by Joanne is blue (instead of the standard black) and indented slightly, making them clear from even the briefest of looks at the page. There are even inserts from others - like Kristin (her childhood best friend), Bill (the volunteer firefighter that saved her life in the accident), and Angie (an RN that treated her) - to get even more angles on her life. These accounts each have a blue border around the text, their name and relation (friend, job, etc) in bold preceding their written statement. Best of all, instead of relegating these until the end, they're found throughout the entire book, allowing their insights and viewpoints to fill in additional details.
What amazed me the most was that this was such an enjoyable read! The first chapter, in which Jennifer discusses her horse riding/showing, really exudes youthful excitement. It's also very cool to see Joanne's pieces because she has that "motherly pride" going on along with so much incredible devotion to helping her daughter. The way the book covers physical therapy exercises is actually really interesting and entertaining, rather than the cold, depressing tales I expected to read. The way Jennifer describes the Herculean effort involved with opening clothespins and closing them securely on a ruler above her head, for example, is as entertaining as Rocky defeating an opponent in the ring. Both Jennifer and her mom share this talent; I laughed so hard at a particular treatment she found (the burping one!) that I had to read it aloud to my fiancée. It was a man who would put his hands on Jennifer to find the negative energy... and then BURP to release it! Joanna ended up laughing so hard that she had to run out of the room, which is something I could absolutely relate to. Of course, the later parts of the book in which Jennifer goes back into the world years later, goes to school, tries new things and finds new talents and passions are exceptional and motivational as well!
Really the only problem I had was that some of the images were a little blurry. I reviewed a PDF file, however, and the book is only available in paperback. As such, I would imagine this isn't a problem in the copies available for sale. I was blown away by how much I enjoyed From Blue Ribbon to Code Blue - it was the perfect length (140ish pages), it was motivational and entertaining and funny and still blended some hard science in, and it was brilliantly formatted. As such, it's easy for me to rate this book 4 out of 4 stars!
From Blue Ribbon to Code Blue
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