What if you walked into a fried chicken diner one day, one random day, and glimpsed a sight of a boy sitting alone at a table, ear pressed against an old boom-box that was held together with duct tape, and braces up his legs... What if?
Would it give you pause? Would you ask about him? Would you speak to him? Would the experience stay with you, follow you around, chase your brain in circles?
It did Jim.
My October Book Club choice is The Awakening of HK Derryberry.
HK Derryberry's mother was killed when she was 6 months pregnant with him. Born premature and in great distress, he would spend the first 96 days in the hospital fighting against the odds to live.
Once stable, he was sent home with his grandmother, a woman of little means, to make it the best he could in a world he could not understand, and one that could not understand him.
Blind and with other disabilities that severely affected his mobility, HK lived in relative isolation. That first morning that Jim Bradford met him, he was 9 years old, sitting in the diner where his grandmother cashiered, as he did all day long every weekend, listening to the radio.
Jim, an educated man who spent his Saturday mornings with his tennis buddies on the court, who rarely had more than one cup of coffee a day, had been on an odd mission to find a second. He was headed to a Starbucks when the sign for fried chicken caught his eye. He says, "God was my GPS that day."
When Jim said, "Hi buddy" he had no idea how his world and HK's would be forever changed. But it was.
Jim became friend and mentor, he unlocked HK's life and HK opened up his. They would begin spending their Saturdays together, then their Sundays, and many, many more days in one another's company for the next 13 years (and counting!)
HK would later be diagnosed with Highly Superior Autobiographical Memory; the ability to recollect everything that has happened to him since age 3. He is, in a word, remarkable.
The Awakening of HK Derryberry is truly one of those rare finds that will impact your life. It's a quick read, but it will leave you wanting to know more and more about HK, Jim, and their inspiring relationship. It is the PERFECT book for any book club! Enjoy.
Pick up your copy at Amazon.
WATCH Jim and HK tell their story.