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ON FIRE: Reviewed By John Harris

Photography by Savannah Jane -

On Fire (2016), written by John O’Leary, is an intimate account of the author’s survival after suffering burns on his entire body in a house fire at the age of nine. Doctors and nurses gave him no chance of survival, yet he has.

Against all odds, John O’Leary has become a very successful motivational speaker. I had the pleasure of hearing him speak twice and am delighted that his story is now memorialized in print. I quickly learned the book is more than just a story about him and his remarkable recovery; it is an inspirational triumph.

Following an extended stay in the burn unit experiencing excruciating skin grafts and grueling exercises as he struggled to recover, O’Leary discovered the life-changing influence of many individuals who were vital to his recovery, from the janitor, to nurse Roy, and even famous athletes. These influences are at the very heart of the book, that he describes as “The 7 Choices to Ignite a Radically Inspired Life.” He reveals seven steps that can and will provide answers to many issues – if one is willing to appreciate the message.

In sharing his experiences, O’Leary includes inspirational stories from other sources, such as the Sisters of Notre Dame study showing how attitude can affect longevity. The book is rich with stories and quotes from many others. One such story is that of Viktor Frankl, who was placed in a Nazi concentration camp where he lost his pregnant wife, his mother, father, and brother. After surviving this horrific experience, Frankl stated, “When you know your why, you can endure any how.”

I recently found myself searching for an answer to “why” as we lost our beloved son this year following his long battle with cancer. The question of “why” is haunting. A friend and former associate of mine gave me this book and in it I discovered an entire section on “why.” It has been most helpful to me and, though there will always be a void in my heart, I no longer dwell on the “why.” If you are interested in a book that is not only interesting but inspirational and can truly provide you with help through some of life’s most challenging obstacles, read O’Leary’s book On Fire.

About John Harris

John and his wife Dotty moved to Panama City in 1987 where he worked at the Navy Lab until his retirement in 1996. He fondly says he took the weekend off in 1996, and joined the firm of A.G. Edwards as a financial advisor the very next Monday. Now truly retired for more than a year, John enjoys reading, particularly nonfiction. Reading is a newly discovered world of enjoyment for him and perhaps he will soon try his hand at writing. John also enjoys cooking and he and Dotty love to travel, especially visiting with their daughter-in-law Charlotte and granddaughter Lucy in North Carolina.

PC Living

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