Book Review

Step out with 'Walk'


Published: Thursday, July 1, 2010 at 3:54 p.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, July 1, 2010 at 3:54 p.m.

With truly mixed feelings, you awaited the day.

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“Walk Like You Have Somewhere to Go” by Lucille O'Neal, c. 2010, Thomas Nelson, $22.99, 256 pages.

On one hand, you couldn't wait to see your child take his first steps. It was you, after all, who helped him practice by holding his little fingers as he tippy-toed between your knees.

On the other hand, you knew that as soon as he took those first steps, nothing would be safe any more, including him. Not only could he reach for breakable things, but he could also reach for the stars.

Before your child got that far, though, you had to give him confidence that he could do it.

In the new book, "Walk Like You Have Somewhere to Go," by Lucille O'Neal (with Allison Samuels), Shaq's mom writes about what it took to go "from mental welfare to mental wealth."

When Lucille O'Neal was 2 years old, her parents divorced and her father fled his Georgia home with his children and parents in tow. Possibly overwhelmed, O'Neal's father ceded custody of his children to his elders who, O'Neal says, were stoic descendants of slaves.

Perhaps because she heard too many negative comments and very little positive ones, O'Neal experienced what she calls "mental welfare," which she describes as a total lack of self-esteem.

By the time Shaquille was born, O'Neal had re-bonded with her mother, who was absent in O'Neal's early childhood. Later, after Shaquille became a high school, then college, then NBA star, her mother helped to raise the three other children born to O'Neal and the man she married.

O'Neal says that her husband was a good man, but he sometimes surprised her with his forcefulness. His word was law in their household, and O'Neal didn't like it. As her children grew and moved on, O'Neal had time to make sister-friends and to acquire her own voice.

She found God again, and a church that supported her as a person, not as the mother of a celebrity. She discovered her own worth, filed for divorce, and now walks with her head held high.

Are you totally whack for Shaq? You'll find a bit of bio here, but that's not really the point of this book.

Author Lucille O'Neal instead tells her own story: How she overcame a lack of self-esteem that was instilled in her as a child and how she passed her new-found confidence on to her own children.

"Walk Like You Have Somewhere to Go" will make you smile, but - more importantly - it empowers you to find strength and faith in yourself and a higher power.

If you love to watch Shaq play ball, you'll enjoy knowing where his tenacity came from, but you don't have to be a fan to enjoy this book.

"Walk Like You Have Somewhere to Go" is worth stepping out on to find for itself.

Terri Schlichenmeyer never goes anywhere without a book. She lives on a hill in Wisconsin with two dogs and 11,000 books.

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