Book Review: I Am Potential

I Am Potential
Cover image courtesy of Da Capo Press

The Bottom Line

By Patrick Henry Hughes, with Patrick John Hughes and Bryant Stamford; 229 pages. Subtitle: Eight Lessons on Living, Loving, and Reaching Your Dreams.

If you saw the Extreme Makeover: Home Edition episode that gave an accessible family home, bachelor apartment, and recording studio to a blind musician -- one who participated in college marching band with his wheelchair-pushing father -- you've already met Patrick Henry Hughes and his dad, Patrick John.

In this genial book, they trade off on telling Patrick Henry's story, and it's as uplifting a tale on the page as it was on TV.

About the Rating


  • Tells a genuinely inspiring story
  • Shares a little of the Hughes's struggle in getting proper treatment for Patrick Henry
  • Shows the ways in which Patrick Henry has brought out the best in others
  • Patrick Henry's college marching-band experience is a moving example of inclusion
  • Writing is fast-reading, straightforward, and enjoyable


  • Despite the title, this is more bio than self-help
  • Mom is mentioned and praised, but we never get her point of view in all this
  • Hard to tell how much was written by the Hugheses and how much the co-writer helped
  • Something tells me the really interesting part of Patrick Henry's life is still to come


  • Chapter 1: When Life Gives You Lemons, Accept Them and Be Grateful
  • Chapter 2: Do All You Can to Change What You Can
  • Chapter 3: Pursue Your Passion as If Your Life Depends on It
  • Chapter 4: Be the You Your Mother Would Be Proud Of
  • Chapter 5: The Best Personal Heroes Can Be Found Close to Home
  • Chapter 6: Set Your Course, Then Burn the Map
  • Chapter 7: Love, Given Freely, Multiplies and Returns
  • Chapter 8: Live Each Day Like the Last Day of Summer Vacation

    Guide Review - Book Review: I Am Potential

    Inspirational books often take us to the depths of despair before soaring to a realization that there is meaning even in the worst circumstances we can imagine. By those standards, I Am Potential must be about the sunniest inspirational book ever.

    Certainly, Patrick Henry Hughes and his parents have faced challenges. He was born with no eyes, and with hip and shoulder joints so malformed that even with surgery, his arm and leg bones couldn't hook up like they should. The story covers Patrick Henry's birth, when doctors kept talking about "anomalies," and the many surgeries needed to implant artificial eyes and improve movement and straighten a bent back. But perhaps taking a cue from Patrick Henry's sunny personality, the book doesn't dwell on them much. There are so many more positive experiences to share, from supportive piano teachers to college inclusion to meeting country-music stars to getting a new house from Ty Pennington.

    I Am Potential has about as much depth as you'd expect from a book about dream-reaching written by a college kid, but it's fun to read and so engaging that you probably won't miss any greater significance.

    If you'd like a little can-do story that reinforces human potential while also describing what Extreme Makeover is like for the made-over family, this is a suitably enjoyable selection. I look forward to the account of Patrick Henry's next twenty years, which -- whether he follows through on plans to put his Spanish studies to work in the diplomatic corps, or an ambition to have his own hugely successful game show -- seem poised to be pretty spectacular.

    Read an excerpt from the book.

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