Reviews for Zion unmatched

Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Clark, who was born without legs, presents snapshots of his journey from foster child to talented athlete. After being given up at birth, Clark experienced abuse and neglect in foster care. Fortunately, at 17, he was adopted. His adoptive mother, “a woman of great faith,” encouraged him to succeed: “If they’re going to look at you, make sure they remember your name.” And succeed he did, becoming an elite high school wrestler and an Ohio state champion in seated racing. Vivid color photos depict Clark wrestling nondisabled opponents and racing via wheelchair and handcycle. Accenting the photos, bold, uppercase quotes from family members and coaches affirm his talent and determination. An early foster mother encourages him to “fly.” His high school track coach remarks, “After coaching Zion, I no longer have any excuses in my life”—a sentiment echoed by the stark “NO EXCUSES” tattoo spanning Clark’s shoulders. Though readers will appreciate Clark’s advice to “work with what you got,” his clichéd suggestion that “you just have to follow your dreams” falls flat; kids may find themselves wanting more information. How did he adapt his wrestling technique? How did he cope with the “dual stigma of Blackness and disability”? Without concrete examples, readers struggling with similar challenges may find his assertion that “if I can do it, so can you” frustrating rather than inspiring. An optimistic if somewhat superficial tale of persevering and thriving with a disability. (Picture book/memoir. 8-10) Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.