Monday, June 8, 2015


We open the morning papers, watch the evening news and click our favorite websites and there are often stories of people, people with huge challenges, who inspire us. Two of those are J.R. Martinez and Amy Purdy. The names might not register right away, but you might have also seen them on Dancing With the Stars. You can find their moving and motivational memoirs on the shelves of the Monrovia Public Library. 

The first thing people might notice when they see J.R. Martinez is his scars. Serving in the Army in Iraq his Humvee struck a bomb and more than one third of his body was burned. Rushed to medical care, he stayed in the hospital for 34 months where he endured dozens of surgeries. He called his memoir Full of Heart: My Story of Survival, Strength and Spirit because his personal story takes him from being an immature teen to suddenly being a badly and visibly wounded vet to then finding the resilience to move beyond what he looked like. J.R. Martinez became an actor, appeared on the favorite soap opera All My Children, won the Dancing With the Stars contest, gives motivational speeches and is active with burn survivor organizations. 
Amy Purdy’s On My Own Two Feet was written after her legs were amputated below the knees. A snowboarder since she was a young teen, Ms. Purdy contacted bacterial meningitis when she was 19 and a top-ranked athlete in her sport. After her diagnosis she went into septic shock and was given just 2% chance of surviving. Instead she lived, but without her legs, kidneys and spleen. The memoir is an uplifting account of how she grasped onto life and began a journey that concentrated on what she had, rather than what she did not. From helping design prosthetic legs, to modeling, to winning Paralympic medals, to being a finalist in the television dancing competition, she defied the odds. 

Hope can be found on the pages of these two books. Readers will take Inspiration from the awesome J.R. Martinez and Amy Purdy.

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