I was sent this book as a “you might also like” suggestion when I had requested some Christian literature to review through Thomas Nelson Publishing. When I received my box of books, the one sitting at the very top was Open Your Eyes: 10 Uncommon Lessons to Discover A Happier Life, written by McKay Christensen, PhD and blind cancer survivor Jake Olson.
Ever the closet OCD girl, I decided to read this book first. While I will review the book (see my two cents at the end of this post), I’d mostly like to blog about Jake Olson and his amazingly unique ministry, Out Of Sight Faith!
About Jake Olson and His Ministry
At eight months old, Jake Olson was diagnosed with retinoblastoma, a rare malignant retinal cancer. To save his life, doctors removed Jake Olson’s left eye at ten months old. When he was twelve, after years of painful radiation and chemotherapy, the cancer took his right eye as well.
Now sixteen years old, Jake Olson tours the country giving inspiration speeches, plays football and dreams of becoming the first blind golfer in the PGA. How is such a thing even possible? How does that level of perseverance endure in someone with so many reasons to give up?
As outlined in the blurb on his books jacket, for Jake, moving forward is about one thing: faith in Jesus Christ. What’s more, his personal calamities have taught him that a happy life is possible for absolutely everyone.
Jake travels the nation, speaking at youth groups, schools, hospitals and church communities, spreading a message of moving forward, putting the past behind you, and “opening your eyes” to true happiness.
Jake says, “Open your eyes from despair to hope. Open your eyes from uncertainty to faith. Open you eyes to a happier life.”
To learn more about Jake’s mission of helping people live by faith and find the winner within, check out his website by clicking here, and subscribe to his newsletter, or listen in on one of his regular podcasts. (You can even purchase an autographed copy of his book there!)
About Open Your Eyes
In Open Your Eyes, Jake Olson reveals the ways of thinking, living, and praying that have kept him and his family triumphant in the face of their tribulations. Told with sincerity and humor in tandem with leadership coach McKay Christensen, Open Your Eyes is not just a heartwarming chronicle of the Olson family’s struggle. Jake’s story is a step-by-step lesson in perseverance and motivation from a young man who knows how to put the past in the past.
From the USC locker room to the fairways of Pebble Beach, Jake Olson will inspire you, your family, and your team with bravery, ability, and faith. It is time to learn from this remarkable young man and open your eyes to a happier life.
The book is comprised of 10 chapters, each one outlining a lesson that Jake has learned through his young life that have kept him happy and filled with joy.
My Thoughts on the Book
While I must say I am extremely impressed with Jake and his purpose driven, God centered life, and all of the good he is doing, I did not find this book as fascinating as I find Jake’s ministry and speaking (as seen on his website).
The book started out tremendously interesting. I even found myself literally crying when his mom describes putting out the Christmas decorations for the last time with Jake having sight. It started so strong, that I expected the entire book to be filled with revelations and insights.
Buuuuuut, then it started getting monotonous. The same stories get retold. A LOT. The book bounces around to different points in Jake’s life, without any kind of flow or organization. Granted, this is not an autobiography, it is an inspirational book and (in a way) a self-help book, but the disorganization of the chapters left me rather irate. Even the “10 Lessons” got kind of muddled and waaaay off topic at times.
Not to mention, EVERY SINGLE ANALOGY is sports related. This only makes sense, what with Jake being an athlete and all. However, I’m NOT into sports. At all. I don’t understand sports, I don’t get the slang, and after the tenth spiritual analogy was made using golf lingo that was flying over my head, I started getting testy. (Yes. I get testy with my books. And?)
I found myself flipping to the front cover, looking for the ‘Finding Life Lessons Through Sports” badge or tagline or description, but the 85% sports related content was nowhere hinted at through the books cover.
And while we were treated to the same life stories told and retold over and over and over again, we didn’t once hear a word about Jake’s puppy on the book cover. For some reason that really bugged me. (But then again, I’m the kind of person who has seriously contemplated making Facebook profiles for my cats..)
So is this my kind of book? Unfortunately, no. Was it exceptionally well written? Not by a long shot. (Hey, look! A sports reference.. I think.)
HOWEVER! Jake is a very remarkable young man, and I do admire him for all he has accomplished in his lifetime, and I am excited to see how God uses him in the near future. I’ll be keeping an eye out for his name in church circles and hopefully someday I’ll have the pleasure of hearing him speak in person.
If you are into sports, or if you are a sucker for inspirational stories, check this book out! If not, stick to checking out Jake’s webpage and listening in on some of his podcasts! But whichever you choose, DO take a moment to stop by and say hi to him!
[Disclaimer: There are no affiliate links in this review. I am an independent product reviewer. I only review products I am truly interested in. I don’t accept payment for reviews. The products I take the time to jabber on about are either items I have personally purchased, or the product has been provided for review after me incessantly nagging for a sample. All of my reviews are unbiased regardless of how the item was obtained.]