"I’ve grown up and lived all my adult life with a level of malleability and willingness to adapt."

In this candid book, former MMA fighter Allen examines his alcohol and drug abuse and considers the enormous risks and rewards of combat fighting. Born a "hapa" (half Asian Pacific American), Allen offers a little backstory into his upbringing as the son of immigration lawyers. Trouble always seems to find this rule breaker, and since birth, Allen is always "fighting to get better." When he attends the University of Chicago, he joins the men's basketball team, giving him an outlet and athletic opportunity. But along the way, he is mired by the trappings of alcohol and drugs, his life heading toward inevitable disaster.

Achieving sobriety eventually leads him to combat fighting. He learns from tough, wisened South Chicago coaches and trainers. He excels as a novice fighter, learning the rules of the game and his place within it. But repeated blows to his head damage him over time. Allen recounts the first noticeable changes in vision and perceptions, a detrimental loss for a combat fighter, and gains a deeper understanding of his brain injury. It affects nearly every aspect of his life, but remarkably he doesn't allow this to stop him from living. Relationships are critical for much-needed support, and each day is planned strategically to avoid embarrassing or distressing situations.

Allen's plain-spoken narrative and short chapters form a fast-read memoir that's engaging and never boring. He aims to "inspire those who read it and comfort those who have experienced something similar." This book is ideal for former sports athletes, war veterans, and stroke and concussion victims. Allen's willingness to share his experience helps others understand that they can still find a way forward. It's a painful, brutally honest, and sometimes humorous depiction of surviving with traumatic brain injury.

RECOMMENDED by the US Review

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