When a grown man or woman competes in a triathlon, we applaud their perseverance and hard work. It is a feat of immense endurance. But when one person competes and brings another along, that is an act of true courage and kindness. In her book, Expect a Miracle: A Mother’s Tale of Brotherly Love, Faith and the Race That Changed a Family’s Life, Jenny Long and Bob Der tell the story of Connor and Cayden Long who shared this incredible experience.
Like most young brothers, Connor and Cayden were the best of friends and enjoyed spending time together. Unlike most brothers, Cayden struggled with Cerebral Palsy which limited his ability to run, play outside and be active like the other kids. When Connor was seven, he decided he wanted his brother to be able to participate in athletics with him and decided to sign up for the Nashville Kid’s Triathalon. Every step of the way Connor pushed, pulled and pedaled Cayden in their effort to cross the finish line together. Their story is a beautiful example of what it looks like to live selflessly despite adversity. On top of inspiring millions of people, their story earned them the Sports Illustrated Kids SportsKid of the Year award.
While the title indicates this story is primarily about the two brothers, I found that most of the book focused on the mother’s story of growing up and raising her boys. Each chapter begins with a piece of Connor and Cayden’s story and then jumps back to advance the story of Jenny’s life. Experiencing the grief of losing her mother to cancer at age 12, Jenny must leave the only home she knows to live with her father. Determined to keep that relationship at bay, Jenny parties hard and begins to experience the hardship of her youthful foolishness. Married to an abusive husband, Jenny finds herself pregnant and eventually single when her husband is incarcerated. While Connor is quite small, she meets a kind man, falls in love and marries. Cayden is born soon after.
While the story is inspirational in it’s own right, it does lack depth. The reader learns a lot about the mother’s difficulties but not much about Connor and Cayden’s struggles and victories. Jenny’s story is one of overcoming great personal difficulties and I think anyone who identifies with that theme would appreciate her message.
Bethany Kelly is currently getting her MFA at Goddard College and has a BA in English. She is a writer, editor, and stay-at-home mother and wife who spends her spare time (when she has some) reading and cooking. Check out her website at www.bckwritingcorner.com.
Review copy was provided free of any obligation by Wunderkind PR. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.