JT, the making of a total legend by J. Thurston and J. Phelps
Harper Collins, 2019. ISBN: 9781460758618. 236p.
(Age: 11+) Highly recommended. Themes: Autobiography. No self-respecting North Queenslander could bypass this autobiography for children, even though we've read the adult version, Jonathan Thurston - the autobiography. Or have we? James Phelps has shifted gear for younger readers in helping JT reveal less of the professed sook and comedian and more of the insecure-delinquent-turned-mindful-hero, intent on 'showing up' anyone who labelled him too small or too unorthodox to become a professional NRL player. Phelps and Thurston tease out the details of JT's self-made sports stardom by deconstructing his methods and alluding to his many character strengths for want of academic strengths. Thurston has a degree of curiosity and humility, when as a young player he doggedly sought to learn the finer points of a particular skill firsthand from more proficient players. Equally, he exhibited a choreographer's ability to practise chunks of his performance in stages, piecing them together incrementally with an indomitable brand of persistence.
Equally, and unlike Thaiday in Rise: The Sam Thaiday Story - co-authors JT and Phelps, are honest about the details of JT's brush with delinquency. Whilst apologetic and to some extent mortified, JT clearly describes events involving his car stealing screw driver and the reasons for his both his foolishness, and his salvation. No allusions or vague admissions like, 'I did a bad thing' with no context, as in the Thaiday story. By comparison, we must admire the respect and transparency that JT affords the legions of children who have admired and will continue to admire, his considerable sporting achievements.
JT, the making of a total legend is JT's acknowledgement that family and community must be part of our life's journey. His managers, parents, wife and wider family invariably counselled him to make the best personal, career and legacy decisions and he had the open heart and good sense to realize that integrity and responsibility are equal privileges and opportunities for those with both extraordinary self-belief and talent. Congratulations gentlemen, the world is going to love this forthright and fun narrator so much more than your first JT autobiography. Readers of any age won't regret meeting JT in this book. The details are his alone to tell, and what little is left out, is somehow absorbed as unspoken wisdom. An awesome ride of an autobiography - perfect for one of the greatest-of-all-time sporting legends.