"I was able to make my dream become your dream, and you guys made your dream come true."

After Rocky Scott suffers a sudden, near-fatal illness that nearly destroys his mind as well as his body, his determination and positive attitude deliver a miraculous recovery. As he slowly gets on his feet and regains mental clarity, he retires from his previous roles as salesman and boys soccer coach to drive maxi-taxis in Queensland, Australia. Rocky soon discovers that rowdy teenage boys are his most challenging passengers. He gradually befriends the toughest kids using his coaching, life coaching, and sales skills to show them how to live without drugs, alcohol, and violence. Many are working-class kids with single mothers, and all act out with no sense of self-respect, hungry for positive male role models in their lives.

Using the patience and perseverance that helped Rocky through his darkest hours, he engages in conversations with the delinquent boys. Eventually, they trust him enough to demonstrate how life can be embraced with positive thrill-seeking through sports and music. He’s rewarded with the boys’ eventual progress and with their respect and affection for him as a mentor and friend.

This biographical novel takes a risk by translating a memoir into a fictional account and is mostly successful. At times some overwriting and some stiff, self-conscious dialogue distract from the narrative and the tale’s intended message, but readers who appreciate inspirational and transformational struggles will be fascinated by the author’s practical prescription for altering the trajectory of at-risk youngsters’ lives. This book is a tribute to men everywhere who “walk their talk” and are willing to extend a helping hand to guide youth and to show them the real highs of life with down-to-earth mindfulness, compassion, and humor. John Stephenson is the real deal.

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