"Double Take: A Memoir," by Kevin Michael Connolly, has been selected as the Montana State University 2010 freshmen summer reading book.
In "Double Take," Connolly, a 2008 MSU graduate, writes with grace and honesty about growing up in Helena as a legless child. During his time at MSU, a student exchange program took him to New Zealand, which he used as a jumping-off point to travel the world.
During those travels, Connolly, who has degrees in film and photography, snapped more than 30,000 photos of the reactions of people when they first saw him. Those photographs were collected into "The Rolling Exhibition," which has been exhibited at the Smithsonian and the Kennedy Center.
The book's selection means that it will be required summer reading for MSU's 2,400 incoming freshmen and will be discussed in classes and venues throughout the MSU campus next fall. Connolly will speak at the 2010 MSU Freshmen Convocation, which will be held Wednesday, Sept. 8, in Brick Breeden Fieldhouse. The convocation is free and open to the public.
The book's messages about overcoming adversity, creating unique solutions, setting ambitious goals and choosing positive responses make it an excellent choice, said Greg Young, MSU vice provost,
"We want our students to see Kevin as a role model, and to be inspired to think what they can do with all the opportunities they have," Young said.
"Double Take" is also the Bozeman Public Library's One Book-One Bozeman selection. The university and the Bozeman Public Library Foundation will sponsor several joint events in September, including a community discussion at the library.
"It's not easy to pick a book for a community-read project, but the themes and messages in Kevin's memoir made it the perfect choice," said Paula Beswick, Bozeman Public Library Foundation director. "Young and old alike will be able to find common ground, creating connections for richer discussions. I encourage everyone to read this debut by a remarkable young man."
Connolly's book received starred reviews from Publishers' Weekly and Kirkus Reviews. People magazine called it a charming and empowering read. The book has netted Connolly appearances on NBC's "The Today Show," ABC's "20/20" and an interview on NPR. Connolly has also spoken to audiences at colleges and universities across the country.
The September event will be MSU's fourth convocation. In 2009, the university hosted Steve Lopez, author of "The Soloist." In 2008 Stephen R. Covey discussed his book, "The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: Powerful Lessons in Personal Change." The first MSU Convocation featured Bozeman resident Greg Mortenson, co-author of the hugely popular "Three Cups of Tea," and the founder of the Central Asia Institute that has built schools in remote areas of Pakistan and Afghanistan. Like Mortenson, Connolly now makes his home in Bozeman.