The Upside of Fear: How One Man Broke the Cycle of Prison, Poverty, and Addiction
(Winner of the 2009 New York Book Festival's award in the Biography/Autobiography category )
Author: Weldon Long
Publisher: Greenleaf Book Group
I am recommending this book to everyone I know! The author delivers a true tale that is heartbreaking, funny, motivational, and feel-good, all rolled into one book.
Growing up, Wally had a father that was distant, and while never really in big trouble, he was a classic underachiever and didn't really fit in well. He married young, and it was a dyfunctional relationship. Neither he or his wife were happy, and neither really knew what was wrong, or how to fix it. One night Wally is out driving around aimlessly (pretty much the way he had lived life up to this point), when he picks up a hitchhiker. Together, the two of them decide to rob a store, and life goes rapidly downhill from there. For the next 20 years, Wally's live is a mess, over half that time is spent in prison, when he is out of prison the time is spent committing crime, drinking, using drugs, and having a son that he rarely sees. With a ninth grade education, he finally realizes in prison that the only way to change things is for HIM to make a decision, change his life, and make it the way he wants it to be. He begins by reading every self-help, religious and motivational text he can get his hands on. The story from there is nothing less than an inspiration. There is truly something here for us all to learn.
Weldon (Wally) Long pulls no punches here, and doesn't try to pretty up the truth of his mistakes in any way. The story is harsh and brutal, and sometimes it's pretty tough to have any sympathy for him. Written with honesty and from the heart, it will make the toughest reader feel a tug on the heartstrings. Teaching himself to share his loving feeling for his son through letters to the boy, he shares a tender and moving part of himself; one he wasn't even aware existed.
If you know someone struggling with life, and feeling that they are just unlucky and ready to give up, buy this book for them. Regardless of your views on religion, whether you believe in God, miracles, or anything else; this book will touch your soul and help you see things differently. I have already loaned it out to a friend, and actually have several more folks in mind to lend it to next. In fact, I plan on buying a couple of copies, one to keep for myself and a few more to share with friends, family and others.