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Try, Try Again - the inspirational story of one New Zealander's fight to win back his life

Jason Barrell with Elaine Weber McGough

Reviewed by Dorothy - 20/10/09

Try, Try Again

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Jason Barrell wrote this account of his life in conjunction with Elaine Weber McGough. I found reading of the setbacks he experienced and his dogged perseverance in overcoming them and each time making a fresh start was truly motivating.

However, the skilled choice of significant details made so vivid the sense of inadequacy he experienced in his youth that as I read I had to remind myself of the phrase at the top of the cover - the inspirational story of one New Zealander's fight to win back his life. - there is to be light at the end of this tunnel!

In fact reading the book was rather like riding an emotional roller coaster, as the joy which Jason experienced after even small achievements contrasts strongly with the devastating setbacks he had to face.

Anyone who has experienced fear on setting out for school or who has seen a child in such a state will identify with the picture of the boy constantly suffering rejection and being labelled as dumb because of his undiagnosed dyslexia. Playing rugby was what he enjoyed, but his success as a school boy was hampered by the lateness of his growth into the strong man he was to become.

Meeting Sue and the resulting partnership and marriage are the shining lights in Jason's years as an adult. Her unfailing love, support and understanding and the birth of their two children brought joy to him and will lift the hearts of most readers.

Although Jason's skills as a horticulturist and farmer brought him employment for some years he was always dogged by his difficulty with reading and writing. He had to find ways to dodge filling in forms, situations which produced tension. He and Sue developed a successful horticulture business, but he returned to rugby and eventually became a professional player. At the pinnacle of the success he dreamed of, he was picked for the Auckland Super 12 team the Blues. His first game was to be his last. During this game he suffered a broken neck.

Stunned by the news that he would not be able to play rugby again Jason resolved to try again to rebuild his life. He decided to prepare for an application to train for the police force. This meant physical training to reach a high standard of fitness, and overcoming his dyslexia so that he could pass the written exam. Discovering that he could learn to read and write and that he did not deserve the label of 'dumb' he had endured during his schooldays, capped by his admission to training for the police force, were tremendous boosts to his confidence. The graduation ceremony was a time of joy for him and the family.

Then came the next dip in the roller coaster ride as a series of strokes was followed by life-risking surgery. He survived alive, but paralysed, brain-damaged and unable to work.

Reading of his long struggle towards independence and a measure of mobility will be an uplifting and motivating experience for readers, just as his personal account of his life journey has motivated many audiences throughout New Zealand and beyond.

It is with enthusiasm that I recommend this book as offering reading of compelling interest and powerful motivation.

Published by Craig Potton Publishing
RRP $NZ 29.99
ISBN: 978 1 877517 143

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