By Kenneth Barilari
Left Out tells a heartfelt and moving story about a deaf boy’s journey to change how others see him both on and off the football field.
Green, former linebacker and defensive end with the Atlanta Falcons, has aspired to be an author since he was in the third grade. “I really became a veracious reader and loved books,” he said. “I dreamed of writing them one day.”
He got the inspiration for Left Out a couple of years ago while on a book tour. He met two boys who were fans of his books, one from Kentucky and one from Arkansas. Both of these boys were football players, and they were both deaf with cochlear implants. Green got their contact information and reached out to the boys and their parents. “One day I want to write a book about a boy who has had the experiences that you have had,” he told them.
He then spoke to the boys extensively via Skype, trying to capture the essence of their lives, struggles, and triumphs. “So many kids strive to create an identity in sports, and they strive for excellence. There are obstacles for all of us. I just thought everyone would be inspired by someone who has an extra set of obstacles,” the author states.
He says that the majority of schools he visits will have at least one student who is deaf with cochlear implants. “It is important for other students to realize how those kids are sometimes marginalized, not only by children but also by adults.”
“Most people innately are afraid and suspicious of someone who is different, and what reading does is it allows us to understand other people’s realities and to have compassion,” he said. “We are all the same on the inside and that’s what’s important.”
Green said that his NFL background has had an influence on the story. His middle grade novels are set in the world of sports. “In the football books, I really rely on the experiences that I have had at the highest level of sports.” Furthermore, his experience can bring a credibility to the characters that is appealing to young readers who might not be all that interested in books. “Knowing I walked in those shoes and lived those experiences brings a kind of credibility to the sports on and off the field.”
When asked what he hopes readers take away from Left Out, Green states two objectives. “My first objective as a writer is to entertain the reader. That’s my number one goal,” he said. That’s why he writes short, action-packed chapters often ending with a cliffhanger. Next, Green hopes to inspire the reader. “The most gratifying part about writing is sharing life lessons with the reader.” He hopes the reader leaves with a better understanding of perseverance, teamwork, self-improvement, and forgiveness.