If you are trying to reach someone who is discouraged, struggling, or headed for a troubled path, Manny Scott might help. One of the original so-called Freedom Writers — the at-risk youth in Los Angeles whose lives were portrayed in a Hilary Swank film several years ago — Scott had an incredibly tough adolescence. Now, Scott does outreach through an educational consulting team, motivating young people going through difficult times as well as others and engaging in suicide prevention work.
In Your Next Chapter: How to Turn the Page and Create the Life of Your Dreams, his second self-published book, Scott spares us the typical rags-to-riches story, and avoids the oversimplified pull-yourself-up-by-the-bootstraps guidance.
He seems to truly have the ability to reach people where they are in life, and to help them discover their worth and potential despite their circumstances. And, in the book, he gives straightforward tips on how to achieve and maintain success by illustrating what to do and what not to do. He teaches by example, and strategically shares his lessons learned.
As for Scott’s own childhood, his father was incarcerated — and his stepfather was an abusive alcoholic. He recalls eating out of dumpsters, being homeless. Each year from fourth through ninth grade, he missed sixty, sometimes ninety, days of school, then dropped out when he was fourteen. By age sixteen, his best friend was brutally murdered.
“I should be an alcoholic, a drug addict, an abuser of women, promiscuous, homeless, violent, locked-up, or dead,” Scott writes. Without his basic human needs fulfilled when he was growing up, Scott can relate to students whose lives are filled with chaos — and reminds us that we really don’t know what a young person has been through before they come to school, or what they will deal with each day after the last bell rings.
At one of the lowest moments in his own life, Scott writes, he sat on a park bench. A stranger sat next to him, the two spoke, and the man was able to restore Scott’s hope for the future. Just as that stranger encouraged Scott to start making positive changes in his life, Scott now hopes to help readers. His story is a bonafide inspirational one.
Scott has been extremely diligent about achieving each of his goals, starting with returning back to school and improving his grades. He tells of how he practiced his oratory skills — he now speaks to more than a hundred audiences each year — and, most of all, he discloses the mistakes he has made. His book can help readers feel less discouraged, more hopeful, more motivated. I would like to see it listed as required reading, too, for every young person going through the juvenile court system, who may feel broken and unsure of how to heal.
Your Next Chapter: How to Turn the Page and Create the Life of Your Dreams
CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform, August 2014
Paperback, 220 pages