When twenty-four-year-old Sergeant Travis Mills woke up on April 10, 2012, he did not realize how, within hours, his life would change dramatically. An IED (improvised explosive device) would go off, shredding parts of Mills’ body. In Tough as They Come, Sergeant Travis Mills recounts his story. He begins by presenting the seemingly normal “day off” as a soldier in Afghanistan, and then presents the scene of the explosion, which ultimately left him one of only five soldiers who survived quadruple amputee injuries in Afghanistan.
After presenting this shocking opening to his book, Mills reminisces about his childhood in the small town of Vassar, Michigan. He recounts his decision to join the army, the whirlwind romance and marriage to his wife, Kelsey, and the birth of their daughter. Then, after giving a clear image of his life and career, Mills continues to describe the impactful explosion of April 2012 and his subsequent recovery.
I sped through this book, devouring page after page. Mills gives insights into his life as a soldier. As a civilian who does not know much about life in the military, I appreciated how Mills gives the reader a glimpse into the details of his life in Afghanistan. In fact, I could have done without hearing some of the antics the men would do in a spirit of comradery! Not only does Mills shine a light on the brotherhood he shared with his men, but he also presents a beautiful reflection on marriage. After Mills is injured, his wife, Kelsey, is distraught. Sections of her journal are included within the book, which adds a beautiful intimacy to the story. I loved seeing the strength of the marriage vows hold Travis and Kelsey together in a time of tragedy, and I found their story so inspiring.
Tough as They Come is an amazing story. Not only is author Travis Mills inspiring by his own life and perseverance, but he’s also very encouraging to others. Reading this story, I knew that I wasn’t supposed to just get warm fuzzy feelings, but to instead let his words motivate me into action, so that I keep pushing on when I go through difficult times. As Mills writes, “We all have our unique challenges to go through. The point is that you can keep going. You can choose to never give up. You can choose to never quit.” I recommend this book for older teenagers and adults, as some of the references and violence may be too mature for younger teenagers. Also, while I think the language is fairly clean for a war story, there are still some vulgar words scattered throughout. On a final note, may want to have tissues on hand, because this story could make you cry.
~I received this book from Blogging for Books in exchange for a review~