Jul 25, 2010

In a Heartbeat by Leigh Anne and Sean Tuohy

Sharing the Power of Cheerful Giving

First came the best-selling book, then the Oscar-nominated movie; the story of Michael Oher and the family who adopted him has become one of the most celebrated true stories of our time. The Blind Side—both the New York Times #1 bestseller and the Hollywood blockbuster—introduced the world to Leigh Anne and Sean Tuohy, the Memphis couple who was out for a morning drive when they saw young Michael Oher walking alone along the side of the road. They stopped the car that day, and their lives changed in a heartbeat. That’s the story we all know, but now, for the first time, the remarkable couple depicted in The Blind Side tells their own story, and “The story is greater than we are,” explains Leigh Anne. The Tuohy family story demonstrates that taking a chance on someone is worth the risk.

In a Heartbeat: Sharing the Power of Cheerful Giving by Leigh Anne and Sean Tuohy with Sally Jenkins (Henry Holt, July 13, 2010) takes readers on an extraordinary journey of faith and love and shares unforgettable lessons about the power of giving. The Tuohys’ deeply inspiring memoir offers readers a detailed picture of a family that makes giving a way of life, the huge blessings that decision has brought to them, and the ways we can all make a difference in our own communities.

Just a few of the lessons in generosity from the Tuohys include:
  • If you can’t give something big, give something small.
  • “Get one, give one”—when you receive something, give part of it away.
  • Giving does not mean enabling—before you give intelligently, you have to learn the value of a dollar.
  • Generosity starts at home.
One aspect of the story that people haven’t heard is just how close the Tuohys came to continuing on their way without giving Michael a second thought, as so many others must have done. “I was going to keep on driving,” Sean Tuohy says.

Adjusting to their new life with Michael was not without its complications, and the Tuohys speak frankly about the issues faced by everyone in the family. All three Tuohy kids reflect on their experiences. In a Heartbeat reveals:
  • How bringing Michael into their lives was as much an awakening for the Tuohys as it was for him
  • The awkward gaps they confronted between privileged and poor and black and white, and how the family worked together to bridge them
  • Their worries and concerns at several stages in their growing relationship with Michael
The Tuohys’ goal is not so much to tell their own story but to show others how they can make a difference, one person at a time. “There are a million Michaels,” Leigh Anne says. “Not every kid has the potential to become a star player in the NFL, but that kid may be the person who grows up to cure cancer, or who becomes a great husband or wife to someone.” Sean and Leigh Anne Tuohys’ compelling, funny, and profoundly inspiring voices encourage readers to move past the “no” in their heads and follow the “yes” in their hearts to see how—in a heartbeat—anyone can harness the power of giving to change the world.

The Tuohys believe The Blindside was so successful because people see themselves in the story, and that they too could make a difference. They wrote In a Heartbeat to show others how they can do something—big or small—to change someone’s life for the better. The Tuohys feel that it was their family that received the blessing in helping Michael, and they want others to receive the blessings that come with cheerful giving as well. “He had a much greater impact on our lives than we did on his life,” says Leigh Anne.

The Tuohys taught Michael what this book teaches all of us: Everyone has a blind side, but a loving heart always sees a path toward true charity.

Check out http://www.makingithappenfoundation.com for ways to make a personal difference where you live.


I was very pleased to have the opportunity to review In a Heartbeat, and I am likely one of very few people who actually read this book before seeing the movie first. Honesty and transparency by Leigh Anne and Sean Tuohy is evident throughout the entire book. This book is an extraordinary journey of faith and love, and they believe that it is critical to be good stewards of their finances and their relationships.

Most of the book is written alternately between Leigh Anne and Sean, and it is great to get both of their personal perspectives on life. I especially enjoyed the short interludes that were written by their three children, Collins, Michael and Sean Jr. There also is an enjoyable segment written by Sandra Bullock, who plays the part of Leigh Anne in the movie.

My only regret about reading this book is that I have not seen the movie, but I am eager to see it now. 

Disclosure: I received a review copy of In a Heartbeat from The B&B Media Group, in exchange for my honest review. I received no compensation for my thoughts.

1 comment:

  1. I want to read this book, based on your review and how brilliant the movie is. This is a story about a family of Christians and the impact for good they made, and their wonderful son who learned the lessons too. I am sure it will inspire us to great efforts of love and sharing.