By: Amberley Lago

There can be no doubt that everyone’s life comes with their fair share of trials and tribulations.  We can be on top of the world one minute, only to come crashing back down to earth the next.  Yes, nothing hits quite as hard as life.  It can be magnificent, as well as cruel.  An example of the utter harshness of life occurs when people experience a life altering tragedy.  It is frequently during these bleak times that people will ultimately determine their own fate.  They can choose to succumb and capitulate to their devastating circumstance… or they can do the opposite.  In her book, True Grit and Grace, Amberly Lago illustrates how she selected the latter.  For those who may be seeking an inspirational read which explores the power of positive thinking and depth of the human spirit…this is the book for you!

True Grit and Grace is a non-fiction book which recounts the author’s real-life experiences.  It is presented as a Memoir with the central event being a motorcycle accident which forever altered Amberly Lago’s existence.  However, it does not solely focus upon this tragedy and the painful recovery process.  The book also intertwines the past with the present as the author relives her childhood growing up in Greenville, Texas.  From an awkward childhood stage, desperately looking to receive some sort of acknowledgement and recognition from her family, to her eventual career as an elite dancer and fitness trainer.  There can be little doubt that her upbringing and past prepared Amberly Lago for what was yet to come.  While the childhood abuse was quite difficult to read, it nevertheless gave verisimilitude to Ms. Lago’s perception and outlook on life.

Essentially, I read this book in one sitting.  This is not something which I typically do with non-fiction work.  However, I found the author’s accounts so riveting and genuine that I just kept reading!  To weave her childhood experiences with those of her present-day life was pure genius from a literary perspective.  It ensured the reader was able to fully comprehend and appreciate how someone could experience such a tragic and excruciatingly painful experience, and still be able to see the positive and beauty in life.  It reminded me of my own Uncle who has since passed on from a terrible disease.  He would always say that he was the luckiest man on the planet and was overwhelmingly grateful to be alive each and every day.  He would say this while sitting in his wheelchair and with the aid of a computer voice system as his throat muscles were no longer working enough for him to speak.  I could never really understand how he could be grateful when life had dealt him such a cruel blow.  Reading Amberly Lago’s book brought in clarity from the outside for me and I can finally begin to make that connection.

Perhaps more than anything, this Memoir stands out as an entirely honest account of the author’s life.  With the aid of the Internet and YouTube, you can watch all the motivational and inspirational speeches and clips your heart could ever desire.  However, they are frequently just that…clips. Amberly Lago’s story is real, genuine and inspiring.  To encounter such devastating pain, and still be able to approach life with overwhelming positivity and hope is no easy feat.  She is also very frank and honest about her down times as well.  She does not pretend to be superhuman and we are able to experience her ups and downs and raw emotions as the book progresses.  As the reader it feels like we are actually there in the moment.  That is what true engagement and sheer engrossment in a book is all about!

The writing in this work had a very smooth and natural flow to it.  The progression was natural and at no time did it feel forced.  All in all, I found this to be a very inspirational and motivating read.  It brings a certain clarity to the difficulties and hardships of life which will be very valuable and useful to many a reader.  When I am faced with particularly difficult times I will now proceed to tell myself to “cowgirl up” (well…I guess for me I should say “cowboy up”)!

5 out of 5 Inspirational Stars for this one!  *****