Monday, November 16, 2015


As you can imagine I’ve had quite a bit of time to read the past few months and given my journey, fighting for my life and healing, I tend to look for things that make me laugh or inspire me. I want to share my thoughts of a very good book I read just this past week.

I’m not one who reads a great many biographies or autobiographies. I’m very selective. It depends upon who is being written about and if they’re interesting to me. I am fascinated by historical memoirs—journals and letters outlining tales of success in the face of adversity.

I’m not big on modern day ‘memoirs’.

Let me tell you, this story was interesting enough to keep me engrossed and turning the pages.

Revival: The Donald Braswell Story
Mark Koopmans
Pen-L Publishing
256 pages

Smoothly written and engrossing tale of inspiration.

Revival is modern memoir but it is all about facing adversity and triumphing despite misfortune (my favorite theme). It’s inspiring in many ways. It tells a story of a very talented man, Donald Brazwell, well viewed by professionals in his field, on the cusp of taking center stage in the international music world of opera and then, through unexpected circumstances, crashes almost into oblivion. A man who loses both his speaking and singing voice. 
You could call this a living nightmare.

But, the interesting thing is he doesn’t stay down or become bitter whining oh ‘woe is me’, or turn to drugs or alcohol. He learns that the sum total of life is more than one facet of it—singing. In fact, he learns much about living and himself. He has a loving wife and three children. He has a choice before him, being the best husband, father, and provider or makes excuses why he can’t deal with it all. And many with his circumstances have done just that. Instead he triumphs over adversity.

He faces so many changes because his life has completely changed course and still he keeps his eyes open to opportunities before him for making a good life for him and his family despite those changes. What I admire was his willingness to try new things, learn new skills so he could support his family. Yet I could see it wasn’t easy for him. When I realize Braswell had spent well over ten years in dedicated study and totally focused on his goal of becoming a world class tenor on par (probably surpassing) with Pavarotti and Placido, with no thought to doing anything but that career I appreciate his choices even more. I admire his willingness to shift his focus. He may have been afraid of failure and not making the grade but self doubt didn’t stop him from going forward and building a life for him and his family. I respect person who can do that.

This story isn’t about a saint. He railed, felt fear, wallowed a bit in self pity and felt lost. Donald Braswell wasn’t the epitome of arrogance but he did know his worth in the music world—he would have to if he wanted to become the great tenor he was on his way to be. He does admit his ego had gotten the best of him at times and in believing his own press. He also stresses he didn’t give thanks or enough respect to God for the gift given him.

The writing of his story is well done. The author has an excellent story telling ability and makes you want to keep turning the pages to see what happens next. In good story telling fashion the main character is flawed, faces hard times as a result of his choices, faces a black moment, and yet has much to learn about life. There is a clear character arc of growth. You find yourself cheering on the ‘hero’ of the story. There is a clear picture of the secondary characters, Julie and the Cavender brothers—I got such a clear picture of those two and love them. The delivery is so well done that I forgot, at times, that it was about a real person. To see Donald Braswell rising like phoenix to triumph is both heartwarming and inspirational.

This is a story well worth reading! 


You can find author, Mark Koopmans:


Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Sia - I'm glad you're 'relaxing' as you travel your healing journey. I'm so glad Mark's Memoir on Donald Braswell is such a good read .. it's always seemed so from Mark's story of bringing the book to publication. Cheers to you both - Hilary

Natalie Aguirre said...

I love inspiring stories where people face big challenges and come to the other side of them. Thanks for sharing about this one. It sounds like a great read.

Kat Sheridan said...

I don't usually read biographies, but this sounds like a good one!

Jo said...

I am glad Revival helped you along the way. It is a good book and worth mentioning. I would think it would be very inspirational to someone nursing their health as you are doing. Hugs.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

I thought it was incredibly uplifting and inspiring! Miracles do happen.

L. Diane Wolfe said...

Revival sounds like it's very inspiring.

~Sia McKye~ said...

Thank you all for your comments. This is truly and fine book to read if you're looking for something to inspire you. We all fall down, we all have battle and bad times, we all fail at one time or another and what this book helps one see is that failure is only if you don't get back and fight. Donald Braswell got back and fought and won with some help from a mate or friends but he attributes most of his success to finding his faith--what it truly means--and learning to listen and move in the direction given.

Hilary--I'm not too sure about the whole relaxing part, lol! But, I do find time to rest and think. :-)

JO--Thanks for the hugs and yes, Revival made me feel good and inspired me to keep on fighting. :-)

Susan Gourley/Kelley said...

I have this waiting for me to read. As soon as I get through my pile of library books before they go overdue.

Elizabeth Seckman said...

I hope you're feeling a good bit better each day. Hugs and prayers for you.

Donald's story is uplifting. It is a highly recommended read.

Yolanda Renée said...

So wonderful, Mark will be thrilled!
I'm glad you are reaching out for the light during your journey. I've always done that too, and it's never failed me, even during those times I was sure it had, I was proven wrong.

Mark Koopmans said...

Sia, come on now... seriously... I am speechless...

(Well... nearly:)

My gosh, thank you soooooo much Sia!!

(And, Yolanda... *thank you* you for sharing... I had no idea...)

Sia, I am so happy that REVIVAL helped, in some small way, get you through this roughest of times. You are so kind (and very, very sweet) to share your positive thoughts about Donald's journey.

I'm going to forward your blog post link to him. (He's not on Blogger, but I know he'd want to read your comments:)

Thanks again!!


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