This is not your standard, run of the mill sports autobiography that you see fill the shelves in Waterstones or WHSmiths at Christmas. But Matt Hampson is not your standard sportsman.
Rugby fans will know Matt’s story: talented young prop rising through the ranks at Leicester Tigers and with England, until an accident in a scrum training session with England U21s left him paralysed from the neck down.
The book gives you a deeper insight into what people may have read in the press or online, the reader gets to find out about life and struggles after the accident both for Matt and his family. It documents the highs and lows of Matt’s time at Stoke Mandeville Hospital, where he spent a lot of time immediately after his accident, as well as dealings with both Leicester Tigers and the RFU.
Paul Kimmage says to Matt “I’m going to point my torch into some very dark places and it’s really going to hurt.” He does that and it portrays Hampson as someone who is not perfect, it rounds him as someone who has had his good and bad moments.
Hampson and Kimmage have a good rapport and it is evident in the book, they share a love of the film “The Shawshank Redemption” and it is this which acts as inspiration for the shaping of the book. You get to look into snippets of Hampson’s life throughout the book, illustrating the person before and after. The enthusiasm he has for life and rugby is evident throughout, he is someone who looks on the bright side.
Engage is a book that will make you laugh, make you cry, make you gasp: it’s the full emotional rollercoaster. I read the 395 pages in two days; you really cannot put it down once you start reading it. Matt Hampson is someone who has never given up throughout his life, no matter what curveball has been thrown his way. He still has hope that a cure can be found and that he can walk again.