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My Orange Duffel Bag: A Journey to Radical Change
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My Orange Duffel Bag: A Journey to Radical Change

3.68  ·  Rating Details  ·  167 Ratings  ·  39 Reviews
Abandoned at age 15, Sam Bracken battled homelessness, poverty, and abuse to successfully earn a full-ride football scholarship to the Georgia Institute of Technology. When he left for college, everything he owned fit in an orange duffel bag. Now, in this award-winning illustrated memoir and road map to personal transformation, Sam
shares his story as well as everything he’
Hardcover, 200 pages
Published June 12th 2012 by Harmony (first published September 2010)
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Brooklyn Bartlett
Apr 26, 2012 Brooklyn Bartlett rated it liked it
On the outside Sam is just an ordinary boy. At home its different.
Sam is a victim of horrible abuse. By his mom, his stepfather, and friends. He never knew how he made it out alive. In this book he gives you the seven rules for the road to be able to live the life you deserve.
One major thing that I really liked about this book was the strength behind the authors writing. He really puts a lot of feeling into it and adds personal expieriences and tips which really help put meaning behind the bo
Corey Vandenberg
Sep 19, 2012 Corey Vandenberg rated it it was amazing
Sam's story is incredible, emotional and raw. What I love about this book, is that it isn't asking for pity or a pat on the back for what he has accomplished. It's about serving those that can't serve themselves. I'm astounded that so many kids age out of our foster care system and are invisible. The story about Sam at college for the first time really hit me hard. I had never thought about the fact that if a foster child beats the odds and manages to get into college, they will still be homeles ...more
Oct 01, 2014 Nick rated it really liked it
For Sam Braken things at home weren't always a pleasure. When Sam got home from school he would be brutally beaten by his family and forced into drugs and alcohol. At age 15 Sam decided to stand up to his family and he told them he would not do drugs. Sam was kicked out of his house at age 15. All he had now was football and track. At age 17 he went all-state in track and football. He was given a scholarship to BYU where he always wanted to play football. After playing in the all-state bowl in L ...more
Sep 17, 2013 Jesse rated it liked it
I found the first portion of this book incredibly interesting to read, while the second half turned into more of a self-help type book that I do not appreciate very much. My students who read it seem to love it because the story is told through pictures and snippets of words, much like a scrap book or journal. It is a very compelling story of overcoming odds, and except for the self-help feel of the latter half, it is a wonderful book.
Nov 10, 2012 Erica rated it really liked it
I think all students should read this one. Sam Bracken's life is far too similar to that of my students. I think his story is not only inspirational but so intentional in its instruction. Awesome! Read it!
Mar 31, 2012 Christin rated it it was amazing
This is an incredibly inspirational book and a great example of how keeping a positive attitude no matter the odds and never giving up can lead to tremendous growth and achievement.
Ms. Knutson
Oct 09, 2012 Ms. Knutson rated it really liked it
I love the pictures throughout the book, and the different sections. It really helps you learn from his experiences.
Jun 26, 2014 Deanne rated it really liked it
This was a quick read. It is formatted like a scrap book -- pictures, text in little patches here and there on the page, doodles, ticket stubs, etc. It is very clever. The author's amazing story is interwoven with inspiring quotes, things he has learned & "homework" tasks to do to help the reader move along the path to success. I wish I would have seen this back when I was in junior high. In fact, it seems like the book is really geared toward teens and young adults who are just starting out ...more
May 22, 2013 Mel rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
From experience I've learned that people undergoing therapy for childhood abuse respond very differently to a variety of techniques; what resonates with one person may blow right over another. It's a matter of matching the resources with the circumstances and the person. Therefore, I'll resist giving a subjective review here and offer - this *book/presentation* is like a tool that I could see, in some cases, being valuable in a therapeutic arsenal, both professionally or personally for those do- ...more
Dec 16, 2013 Jiaxinli rated it it was amazing
The book “My Orange Duffel Bag,” by Sam Bracken, is a journey of Sam Bracken to a radical change in his life and himself.
Sam had never experiences how a normal family life; he doesn’t know what a normal family should be like. He lived in an abusive and violent environment. He started drinking and doing drugs very young as everyone else around him does until he turned 13. He realized that he has to change and he was unwilling to be the kind of people as his families are. He found himself interes
Dec 12, 2012 Shaun rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is an inspiring book, aimed toward youth and teenagers, but can be used for everyone who wants to make changes in their life. The author had a rough upbringing. His mother was raped and he was the result of this violent act. His mother made poor decisions, including doing drugs and not caring responsibly for her son Sam (the author). Sam shares his story in this book, his rough childhood and the people who helped him along the way to make good decisions. He ended up playing football for Geo ...more
Nov 15, 2015 Denise rated it liked it
A fast read, a one day read when you have time. It also makes you think. First how lucky you are if you had a happy home life. Then no matter what your early home life, this makes you see how you can build your life into what you dream of. Still thinking this over, where am I, where do I want to go. Good book to grow on.
Joanna Axelrod
Dec 18, 2011 Joanna Axelrod rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I received this book last year as a submission for the IBPA (Independant Book Publisher's Association) Benjamin Franklin Awards, and I gave it highest marks. This is a remarkable self-help book based on the true story of Sam Bracken, who went from being a homeless abused teen to a successful college football player, businessman, husband, and father. Written in both poetry and prose interspered with multimedia scrapbook elements and housed in an actual orange zippered duffle material cover, this ...more
Josh Shaw
May 16, 2013 Josh Shaw rated it it was amazing
This book was about a kid named Sam Bracken. At the first of the book while i was reading it i was thinking how is this guy possibly going to get back from everything that had happened to him. He had grown up with not great surroundings, he had many things happen to him. But my favorite part of the book was when he decided that he didn't want to be like that. So he turned his life around by making that one decision.
This book wasn't made into a movie.
I would highly recommend this book to people w
Apr 17, 2016 Sarah rated it really liked it
This book was visually stimulating and spiritually uplifting and personally motivating. It's not so much a narrative as a reflection guide. I will keep and refer to this often. It's great for parents, teachers, counselors.
Lisa O'donovan
Sep 09, 2015 Lisa O'donovan rated it really liked it
Well done short inspirational memoir. Sam was a young man faced with adversity time and time again and how you can overcome it and find the life that you want.
Oct 22, 2012 Angela rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Angela by: Darla
I borrowed this book from the wonderful folks at the Alley McKay House. This particular copy is signed by the author...once my husband reads it we shall mail it back to Texas :-)

An interesting read...the history part is like a scrapbook with just bits told here and there. It was shocking and sad without being too graphic. The Journey part of the book might have been a little GOD heavy for me, but I don't think he overdid it for most folks. I like that he pushes you to go for remember tha
Crown Publishing Group
Abandoned at age 15, Sam Bracken battled homelessness, poverty, and abuse to successfully earn a full-ride football scholarship to the Georgia Institute of Technology. When he left for college, everything he owned fit in an orange duffel bag. Now, in this award-winning illustrated memoir and road map to personal transformation, Sam shares his story as well as everything he’s learned about overcoming the odds and radically changing his life so that you can create positive, lasting change of your ...more
I have the privilege of knowing the author and his family, and I was amazed to learn about the life he left behind and the struggles he started out with. The book is not one I would share with my young kids- the extent of abuse and neglect in the beginning is truly heartbreaking, but for later teens, it might be a good read to help them realize that they are stronger than they think, and they have control over their futures regardless of their life circumstances. Kudos to Sam and his charitable ...more
Fadwa القاسم
Loved the format of the book. Takes a while but there are some treasures of wisdom.
Oct 26, 2013 Rachel rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Simple and unique. In some ways the simplicity worked, especially the parts during his childhood; he gives just enough information to understand where he's coming from without dragging the reader through all the gory details. On the other hand there are major holes in the story. Still, a book I enjoyed reading, felt encouraged to be and do more. Ultimately we all can use a little bit of inspiration to be better and I think Bracken and Echo accomplished that in this book.
Just finished this book for my book club. It was hard to read on my NOOK due to the layout of the pages. It's designed to look like a scrapbook & reads quickly. Inspiring story about a young man struggling to survive & how people rallied around him. I was most impressed how he took a learning disability & turned his life around, graduating with high marks. His mother was a mess, but once Sam learned about Christ, he was able to change his life for good.
Sam Bracken's has overcome some of life's most difficult challenges. It is especially tragic when a child suffers due to the negligence and poor choices of those who should care for and protect him. Sam's internal power to make a better life is inspiring. The format of the book is unique which gives it appeal it might not otherwise have (reminds me of "smash-booking") and certainly the book/message is targeted for the juvenile detention audience.
Khyan gaddy
Oct 27, 2013 Khyan gaddy rated it it was amazing
If you ever thought you had it bad,or that things were getting too much.. Then you need to read this book. Sam's story is a triumph over adversity and through Echo Garrett he has brought it to us. I cannot recommend it enough and is inspirational enough to be required reading for anyone that is struggling to achieve their true potential in life. An amazing story from an amazing man.
Dec 10, 2012 Elisabeth rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Pretty book, but not pretty enough to bother reading it. Flip through it at the doctor's office to look at the pictures? Sure! But don't waste your time otherwise. Poorly organized, skips around, repetitive, reads more like a quote book. The same information is available (and more palatable) elsewhere. Sorry, orange duffle...I wanted to love you.
Pamela Van Arsdale
I think this is a good book to reAd for teens who like the Chicken Soup series etc. Bracken has N amazing story, I only wish it were written as such. It's not so much a narrative as a series if diary entries and motivational quotes. Again, I think a good read for a lot of teens.
Jun 17, 2013 Kristine rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
One of the least motivational self help books I've ever read. Sam Bracken probably has a very inspirational story to tell, but this book is poorly written, leaving many gaps in his stories and suggestions. When I finished, I was filled with more questions than I was answers.
Aug 06, 2012 Amy added it
Recommends it for: Tim Felt
Shelves: business
Inspirational story of Sam Bracken's life and how he completely changed his destiny as a result of determination and hard work. Excellent collection of motivational quotes and mantras.
May 14, 2013 Christina rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Although difficult to read on my iPad, I rather enjoyed this book. Very inspiring story. It is a very quick read and I finished it in an evening and my husband finished it the next.
Jan 05, 2013 Jenn rated it did not like it
I was hoping this would be a book I could recommend to the foster youth I work with. Alas, I found it much to preachy and seven-habits-ish to be useful for my purposes.
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