Fight to the End

Non-Fiction - Sports
180 Pages
Reviewed on 05/28/2019
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    Book Review

Reviewed by Jack Magnus for Readers' Favorite

Fight to the End is a nonfiction sports memoir written by Eric Hanna. In his prologue, Hanna describes basketball as having been “amusing, humbling, ego-building, inspiring, deflating, and above all, entertainingly addictive.” In his memoir, he describes how a sport that he ended up quitting before he had even begun turned out to be “my best friend, my therapist, my joy and my heartache.” Hanna was nine years old when he first considered playing basketball. The lake-effect snow and bitter cold of an Ohio winter made walking into that heated gym on a Saturday morning and getting involved with a youth basketball program tempting -- if nothing else, it would be better than trying to play out in the cold. As he entered the gym, however, he felt completely out of place. Everyone seemed to know what they were doing out there, even his friends. Hanna quietly turned around and left the gym. Then something completely out of the ordinary happened a few days later. Marty Paes, a family friend and the dad of one of Hanna’s friends, called and asked to speak with him. Marty had seen Hanna at the gym. He thought that maybe Hanna might want to try going there with Marty and his son, John, the next Saturday. Hanna swallowed the fear and indecision and decided to go. It changed his life.

Fight to the End is well written and inspirational. I marveled at his resilience throughout his years as a player and loved seeing how his heart has always been in the game. Hanna gives the reader insights into what it’s like being on the bench even as he shows that those waiting players are in many ways even more important than the superstars who get to play for more than just a minute or two late in the game. I especially appreciated how he introduces the reader to the strategy behind the game and how it’s played. Seeing the action through his eyes has measurably enhanced my appreciation for, and understanding of, the game. Hanna’s story is well written and reads like fiction; his excitement for and love of the game blazes forth on every page. You can feel his frustration as a vertically challenged teen, his exhilaration at the growth spurt that changed everything, and his ultimate triumphs as a scholarship athlete in college. Fight to the End is most highly recommended.

Edith Wairimu

Fight to the End is Eric Hanna’s inspiring and moving memoir that chronicles his hard-fought journey that begins in childhood to become an award-winning player while playing for Ohio State University. Unlike other stars, Hanna was not always good at the game. He was the player who many times was not sure whether he would even make the team. In many instances, he had to endure ridicule given his awkward frame. After a surprising growth spurt, he gained the height but he was still far from muscular when compared with his other teammates. His father also did not share his dream and he had to depend on his mother only for encouragement. Still, Hanna’s love for basketball carried him through the toughest of times. Even when his chances at playing seemed to be over, he always found a way back to the court.

Eric Hanna’s Fight to the End contains life-changing lessons on the themes of resilience and fighting for one’s dream. Even though he lacked physique and skill on many occasions, his passion for playing was consistent and it carried him through when others at his level chose to give up. The work is also chronologically arranged which makes it easy to follow and the details included give depth to the main events. The pace is accommodating and it allows the inclusion of the author’s thoughts and emotions during different scenes. Fight to the End by Eric Hanna is also written for a wide range of readers, not only for those interested in basketball. It is a book that proves the power of passion and endurance in the face of disheartening obstacles.

Jamie Michele

Fight to the End by Eric Hanna is an autobiographical memoir of the author's life in basketball, beginning when he was in the fourth grade, having left the court within moments of walking onto it (and was soon after coerced by a baseball coach to return). From then on, he was hooked. As his athleticism and ability grew, so too did his body to a lanky and towering 6'7”. When a series of grievous issues ranging from player accidents, felonies, academic disqualification, and transfers deplete the Ohio State University basketball team, the Buckeyes are forced to take prodigious measures and open up last-minute tryouts in the hopes of filling the vacancies with walk-ons.

Eric Hanna's story is as inspirational as it is absorbing in Fight to the End. The book's title is a clever double entendre, encompassing both the Ohio State University fight song and Hanna's persistence in going after his dream. The personal success and fallbacks, as well as those on his team, carry the story through his time as a player constantly having to prove himself on Division I, Big Ten team. What I enjoyed most about Hanna's story is the way he tells it. It feels like someone is sitting on your sofa, reminiscing with you. He has earned the right to narrate with bravado, but his restraint and humility are a credit to himself, his book, and the story itself. This is not a man with natural talent that landed in his lap. Hanna worked hard, studied hard, played hard...and these qualities are what make Fight to the End a story many will struggle to put down even when they've finished the last page.