I’ve been mulling over how to write this review since I finished Bill Strickland’s new book, Ten Points. I have been searching for that one word that I can use to describe it and have been at a loss. Interesting, engaging are all accurate but do not capture the essence I am trying to convey. For now, I’ll use memorable.
Before I start, I would like to thank Chloe and Christine at Hyperion for contacting me regarding this book. I’m sure I would have read it but I don’t know when I would have found it.
Do you know why Breaking Away was and is such a great movie? Well to paraphrase another book, it is because the story is not about the bike. The movie uses cycling as a medium for telling a much more universal story. That is the same here. Bill Strickland uses his quest for ten points during his club crit season as a medium to tell a much more compelling story.
At the end of a season where Bill Strickland cherishes first and only point he scored in a highly competitive Thursday night criteriums, he makes a fateful promise to his daughter. Next season, he’ll score ten.
The quest for ten points turns out to rank up with quests written by the likes of Homer. What if he fails? This forces Bill to do a significant amount of reflection and the story takes us through that reflection.
Whenever each of us is faced with a seemingly insurmountable challenge, it gives up the opportunity to look at ourselves and take stock in who we are. We can then stare into our personal abyss knowing if we can cross it, we can come out the other side better than we were before. Bill’s abyss is deeper and darker than most people on the planet.
Bill takes us with him as he faces his past and comes to grips with who he is. Since this is not Hollywood fiction, there is no Rocky type ending. Instead, he leaves us after coming a long way through his abyss but we know he will continue to move forward.
I don’t want to paint a grim picture. Bill’s style is engaging and the story, while uncomfortable at times, is tough to put down. Bill also paints a great portrait of life in the top tier of racers we watch at local races. As the author grows as a person, he grows as a racer which is enjoyable to read.
I would definitely put this as a must read on your list.