Music Within Summary
Richard Pimentel begins his life as a fighter, and his life's work becomes a process of fighting for the rights of others. Rising up from a childhood in a dysfunctional family, armed with a talent for public speaking and a winning personality, the young man makes his way to a Northwestern college, confident that he will ace his try-out for his idol Dr. Ben Padrow, the coach of the winningest team in the history of the College Bowl. But Dr. Padrow shatters his dream when he rejects him. Richard's immediate reaction is to enlist in the army for a tour of duty in Vietnam. During combat, the young recruit loses his hearing to a bomb blast, and has to deal with this newfound disability on his return to civilian life in Oregon. Richard discovers that his disability and the struggle to transcend it is a defining moment in his fight for what he believes in. When he tries to help his friends, vets like himself and others with disabilities, to get work in an environment that treats them with pity at best and disdain as a matter of course, he realizes that he can make a difference. The friends who make up his close-knit clique are: Art Honneyman, a student wheel chair user with cerebral palsy who uses his rapier wit to deflect the prejudice that greets his disturbing appearance; Mike Stoltz, a fellow veteran with a lot of rage and nowhere to put it; and then there is Christine, the passionate libertine who strokes Richard's ego and initiates him into the world of free love. Together, the friends experience the currents of those turbulent times, and the wild, joyful energy of winning through confrontation and humor. Without his hearing Richard is all the more prepared to listen to the message deep within himself, and to carry that message to the thousands of people whose lives are improved by the movement he helps to organize.