Stare at Me

How Being Blindsided Brings Life Into Focus

Non-Fiction - Autobiography
232 Pages
Reviewed on 05/18/2021
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    Book Review

Reviewed by Astrid Iustulin for Readers' Favorite

It is never easy to find the courage to tell other people about your disease, and spreading a positive message is even rarer. However, those who overcome their fears and share their experience empower others to make it a most commendable action. This is what Joey Mullaney has done by telling readers about his struggle with FA (Friedreich's ataxia) in his inspirational autobiography Stare at Me. Born into a sports family and a sports enthusiast himself, Mullaney discovers at 13 that he will not have a "normal" youth as FA will progressively impair his movements as had happened to his sister. From that moment onwards, despite having the same aspirations as any young person, managing his illness will become Mullaney's primary concern.

Stare at Me: How Being Blindsided Brings Life Into Focus is one of the most candid autobiographies I have ever read. Joey Mullaney tells his story without hiding anything but also without making excuses for himself. He is not seeking our sympathy but focuses on spreading a relevant message of hope and energy. He often stresses the importance of the discoveries he makes along the way, and his comments are enlightening. I admire him for his ability to learn from any event and take advantage of them for his personal development. He sets an excellent example for us all. We can learn a lot about the best attitude to develop in difficult situations from Stare at Me. Mullaney shows us how to go through life with courage and determination, and we should treasure this lesson to get the most out of our own lives.

K.C. Finn

Stare at Me: How Being Blindsided Brings Life Into Focus is a work of non-fiction penned in the autobiographical style and was written by author Joey Mullaney with the assistance of Michael Matrisciani. Telling the harrowing tale of Joey, who at the age of thirteen was told that he would degenerate and die from a rare disease, the book takes us through the ups and downs of such a shocking life experience, but also the incredible power of Joey’s journey to find his place in the world and understand and come to terms with his conditions. What results is an incredible life story thus far which anyone from any walk of life can relate to and find strength in.

Inspirational doesn’t even begin to cover the ethos and atmosphere of this fantastic and emotive work by Joey Mullaney. From its very opening pages, the work brings us into sharp focus with a young boy whose ‘normal’ world is destroyed by a single diagnosis. The idea of light coming from darkness and focus from the chaos runs throughout, delivering a sharply penned and no-punches-pulled life story which encourages and inspires all those who read it to overcome and tackle the hurdles that life throws before them. Overall, I would highly recommend Stare at Me: How Being Blindsided Brings Life Into Focus to young people who need guidance in assessing their own confidence and strength to take on struggles in their lives, but also for adults looking back and seeking hope and optimism in the amazing tales of others overcoming adversity.

Divine Zape

Stare at Me: How Being Blindsided Brings Life into Focus by Joey Mullaney is a gripping memoir that explores the author’s experience with a condition known as Friedreich's ataxia, a rare degenerative neuromuscular disorder that diminishes coordination, mobility, speech, and organ function. Have you ever had a dream like being a seventh-grader playing an intense basketball game and at the free-throw line and with one free throw left to win the game, you notice your arms won’t lift? For thirteen-year-old Joey, it is not a dream, but a reality. He discovers that he is dying and that he can’t even play his favorite sports. Joey is confined to a motorized scooter as a teenager. Will he fight or give up in utter surrender?

This is a story of courage, resilience, and self-acceptance that brings many lessons along with it. Joey Mullaney’s incredible journey is a powerful testament to readers who feel inadequate that they can conquer their demons, and transform their limitations and “handicap” into a vessel of personal growth. It is more than inspiration. It is a story of grit and daring courage, and it shows readers that there are no limits to what they can achieve, no matter what stands in the way. Writing in gorgeous and atmospheric prose and never lacking in wisdom and insight, the author brings tears to readers' eyes, warms their hearts, and reassures them that there is more to their mortality than the challenges that life thrusts at them. Stare at Me: How Being Blindsided Brings Life into Focus is the story of how one man transforms his life through acceptance and reintegration of the broken pieces of his humanity. A book that excellently spells out self-awareness, confidence, and acceptance. You must read this book, and then share it with others.