Allison's Book Bag

Out of the Blue by Victor Cruz and Peter Schrager

Posted on: April 30, 2014

One of the more popular guests at the schools where I teach have been athletes. They inspire students to work hard and stay in school. They tell kids that they can overcome hardship to achieve their dreams. Out of the Blue by Victor Cruz and Peter Schrager is an appealing biography of an underdog that offers similar encouragement.

Cruz grew up in a tough environment. As his friends turned to drugs and guns, the only thing that kept Cruz off the streets was football. But it’s with his struggle with academics that many of my students will be able to identify. Again and again, Cruz failed to get the entrance score needed on his SAT exam. Once Cruz was finally accepted to college, he was kicked out twice for failing to maintain the required grade point average. Cruz makes it clear to young readers that athletic ability alone is not enough; academics matter too.

Once Cruz overcame all the obstacles standing in his way, and got his chance to shine as a football player, he wasn’t the first draft pick. He wasn’t taken in the first round. Or the second. Or the third. In fact, he went undrafted. Fortunately, he was signed as a free agent by the New York Giants. But being signed is just the beginning for a rookie. Cruz had to put in hours learning new plays and formations off the field, along with hours of practicing on the field, to attract attention. Even then, Cruz had to be willing to start as a free agent pick for a franchise that wasn’t his top choice. Cruz’s autobiography makes it extremely apparent that achieving one’s dreams isn’t just about luck or ability. It also takes a lot of hard work, willingness to start small, and perseverance.

What about those young people who grow up with an easier life? Many times throughout his autobiography, Cruz makes the observation that every football player’s story is unique. Some athletes were built bigger than Cruz and gained a following for their athletic prowess even before college. Others earned high scores first time around on the SAT. Many got into a top-notch school, where there were many more opportunities for agents to see them. Yet they all had one thing in common with Cruz. Despite their advantages, none of them just had their football career handed to them. When athletes visit our schools, despite my inability to even throw straight, their stories mesmerize me. When they share how many hours they dedicate to practice, I feel motivated as a writer to stick with a disciplined routine. Cruz’s autobiography is equally inspiring, because Cruz emphasizes that one has to go the extra mile to succeed in one’s dream.

Cruz grew up an underdog and wrote Out of the Blue partially to inspire other disadvantaged young people. He also hopes to reach those like him who have Hispanic roots. When I think of my students who sit enraptured by our visiting athletes, but who struggle with academics and hope, I know that Cruz’s story will appeal to them. Yet in that Cruz’s story also engaged me, I think this is an autobiography for all ages.

My rating? Read it: Borrow from your library or a friend. It’s worth your time.

How would you rate this book?

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