Book Review by Lori Carol Maloy
Thunder Dog by Michael Hingson and Susie Flory / A Book Review
Publish Date: 2008
Thomas Nelson Publishers
Michael Hingson is blind and he has been since birth. Not because he was born blind but because of the antidote given to him when he was born prematurely. His blindness does not define him, though for many who do not understand the blind, it does define him.
On September 11th, 2001, Michael is on the 78th floor getting ready for a conference meeting. He had his guide dog with him as usual when the plane struck the tower. If he and Rochelle are going to survive, they must remain calm and work as a team, even though they have no idea what is really happening. But time is not on their side.
This is their story.
Thunder dog is a beautiful story of hope and resilience and bravery. Hingson’s harrowing tale Is co-authored by Susie Flory. Flory and Hingson work brilliantly together to write an inspirational account of Hingson’s and Rochelle’s race to safety as the clock ticks down.
But this story is much broader in scope and opens up other fascinating worlds for the reader. It is also Rochelle’s story, and about all the talented guide dogs that put on their harnesses and go to work every day beside their beloved owners. Hingson opens the window and allows us a glimpse into the world of guide dogs and their owners, and oh what an amazing and intricate world this is. One many of us do not understand.
Throughout the novel, Flory and Hingson use flashbacks to show us aspects of Hingson’s life as a baby and how he became blind, as well as what life was like for him growing up blind: the prejudice, the misunderstandings, the difficulties, and the desire to be allowed to simply be a human being. I learned so much about blindness and about guide dogs that I never knew. I was touched at being allowed such an intimate look inside his life and honest heart. Seeing blindness and 911 from this perspective was fascinating and heartfelt.
There was a scene in the book that brought warmth and ache to my heart when the firefighter stopped on the stairwell and pet the dog. It brought both sadness and warmth to my heart because I remember what happened to those fearless men. Many died that day.
During Hingson’s creepy and foreboding walk of doom, the words 10 stairs turn, 9 stairs kept reminding me that time was running out. Those of us who were watching 911 unfold live on the television had our breath caught in our throat, and as I read this book, I found myself holding my breath, shoulders tensed.
This beautiful story isn’t just about 911; it’s about so much more. Human beings, their hearts, their ability to unite, to help each other, and one beautiful dog who knew he had a job to do. Although this story has biographical flashbacks into Michael’s life and provides information about guide dogs, I believe this well-written information is very appropriate and informative. To have that glimpse of Michael’s life and what it was like growing up blind was a wonderful gift he gave his readers.
There is a chapter included from the longtime leader of the National Federation of the Blind, Kenneth Jernigan, as well as a resource section and a glossary. This inspirational and informative book is a must read. Not only to remember the fallen but to understand the story from another perspective and to also remember the living.
Lori Says Knives Up