A Review of: Within My Grasp: A Double Amputee's True Story
By: Mike Penketh, with Marti Smiley Childs and Jeff March
Genre: Autobiography/ Personal Growth
Publisher: EditPros LLC
Publication Date: April 2013
* I received a complimentary copy in exchange for an honest review.
What would you do if you found yourself awakening from a deep slumber to discover that your hands were missing? How would you eat, or drink? How would you brush your teeth? How would you change your clothes? How would you turn a door knob? How would you answer the phone? How would you sign a check, or a form? The frustrations are endless, but survival is a human instinct, so you would have to figure out how to perform essential functions, or have someone do them for you. The innate instinct for survival can get you by, but the human spirit and a strong sense of determination can help you overcome obstacles at a much faster pace.
American Airlines Captain Mike Penketh maintained a perfect safety record while flying passengers, but on his own time he got his adrenaline rushes by mastering aerobatics and flying in competitions. He raced his homebuilt Pitts S-1 biplane in the Reno Air Races. In his quest for speed, he miscalculated only once � and he paid dearly.
"I didn't know where I was, and I didn't know the guy who was leaning over me. I had been unconscious, and I was flat on my back, but as I began awakening in a groggy, dull fog, I sensed that I was in some kind of aircraft. Over the noise, the pilot spoke. He was talking about a patient with severe limb damage and a possible head injury," Mike wrote in the opening chapter of the book. "The pilot was contacting the radio dispatch room at the University of Utah Hospital Trauma Services Unit in Salt Lake City. I did not comprehend that I was the patient. Everything revolved in slow motion around me. I felt cold, numb. And then I blacked out again."
Trauma surgeons subsequently were forced to amputate Mike's hands following a horrific accident that nearly killed him. Although the course of his life was unalterably changed, he was determined against all odds to fly airplanes again. Within a remarkably short time of losing his hands, Mike became determined to resume flying airplanes. He was fitted for and tried numerous hook devices and prosthetic arms before his relentless pursuit led him to a technologically advanced solution with which he was able to perform some critical hand functions.
He culminated two years of preparations when he successfully demonstrated for doubting FAA examiners his ability to fly an aircraft using electronic prosthetic hands. The FAA reinstated his pilot's license and, while he never flew Boeing 737s again, he went on to perform intricate maneuvers in aerobatics shows to prove to himself and to naysayers that he could do it. Mike, working in collaboration with Marti Smiley Childs and Jeff March, tells his story in Within My Grasp: A Double Amputee's True Story.
The author writes in a spare, effective style. The parts about his accident and how he overcame his disability are very inspiring, I enjoyed reading about that. My mind did tend to wander, however, when he spent pages talking about airplanes. Overall, though a very inspirational, beautiful read.
About the Authors:
An inspiration to school children, Mike travels weekly throughout the school year to Northern California grade schools as part of the non-profit Touch of Understanding program. His mission: to teach young children, teachers and parents to respect and have empathy for all individuals. The program encourages its participants to focus on their own strengths rather than on weaknesses, and to realize that everyone faces adversity and frustrations that they may struggle to overcome.
Marti Smiley Childs and Jeff March:
This is the fourth biographical book that Marti Smiley Childs and Jeff March have co-written. Their previously published books are Where Have All the Pop Stars Gone? -- Volume 2 (2012, EditPros LLC); Where Have All the Pop Stars Gone? -- Volume 1 (2011, EditPros LLC); and Echoes of the Sixties (1999 print edition, Billboard Books; 2012 e-book edition, EditPros LLC). They own and operate EditPros LLC, a company they established in 1993 to perform writing, editing and publication services.