'No Turning Back' Is a Conversation in Book Form
- By Elisha Bury
- Apr 01, 2012
When I read the story of how Bryan Anderson got blown up, I picture myself with him, riding alongside him in the tank. It's hot there and heartbreaking, but Anderson won't let your heart break for long. He's not that kind of guy, and his message is clear: You shouldn't be either.
"No Turning Back" is the story of how Anderson, an Army military police officer, was injured in an explosion in Iraq that resulted in the loss of both his legs and his left hand. It is also the story of his recovery at Walter Reed. He offers raw emotion regarding his recovery as well as hilarious stories. I found myself laughing out loud when Anderson talks about pushing a casino table across the floor when he couldn't get his rented scooter to stop moving. Through his warm, conversational style, his courageous spirit and zest for life shine through.
What I love most about Anderson is the way he writes. I feel like I'm sitting with him in his backyard drinking a beer while he flips burgers on the grill. We've just talked about how I'm toying with competing in a triathlon, and he's telling me how I should go for it like he did when he learned to snowboard. Then curiosity gets the better of me. "What happened to you, Bryan?" I ask, because he's made me feel comfortable enough to do so. And he tells his story, just like that.
Though this part of the story is brief, I also appreciated Anderson’s insight into life in Iraq. As someone who has had very close relatives serve in Iraq, I've always wondered how people deal with it. You know your own hardships, but what is life really like for our service men and women over there? What are they really dealing with on a daily basis?
Still, you won't find a saga of military heroism here. You won't find a day-by-day play of recovering at Walter Reed and the many advances this organization has made in prosthetics. You will find only a conversation in book form of Anderson telling you how he copes with life, from maneuvering ramps at a hotel to picking up women to his desire to become an actor. You might even forget at times that Anderson is a triple amputee, until he tells you a funny story about how he had a hard time stopping his power wheelchair at first and dropped beer and a cake.
I've never met Anderson or had a conversation with him, but after reading the book I feel like I understand his mission. He wants to motivate people in his same situation—people with disabilities who might think that life can never be the same as it once was. The back half of his book actually could be read as a weekly devotional. Are you at Walter Reed right now? Pick up this book and read a little of it at a time when you feel yourself getting down. Anderson will tell you, you are the same person, just in a different package. Life can be as great as it was, albeit different, maybe even better.
Read excerpts from his book here, and go to Amazon or Barnes & Noble to purchase a copy. If you find yourself moved by Anderson’s story, follow his life at his personal Web site.
Elisha Bury is the editor of The Mobility Project. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.