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: