Book Review: When We Were Five


Book number two on my mission to read 26 books this year is titled When We Were Five: The Diary of an American Family. I heard about this book while I was exercising, something I do too little of, and listening to The Ben Shapiro Show, something I do too much of.  The author, Derek Gray, is actually Ben Shaprio’s personal trainer.

The book lives up to its title, it is the diary of an American family, the Gray family. The beginning is very much the American dream. The reader is introduced to an upper middle class family complete with a mom, dad, two boys and a baby girl. The Gray’s seem to have it all, but when it comes to good fortune, well, the Gray’s do not have much of that at all.

Time is the most valuable thing any of us will ever possess. And we never know how much of it we have left. The men in the Gray family had a rough estimate though. For three generations men in the Gray family passed away at the ages of 46, 47, 48, and 49.

Heart disease ran in the family. Not the “fat butt disease” Sea Monster (Lonny) from The Office talks about either, but actually genetic heart disease. The kind of heart disease that required triple bypass surgery at the age of 31.

Derek Gray quits his dream of playing pro-baseball to pull his family together as the entire family suffers on the inside and outside while death claims the Grays one by one. It’s a gut-wrenching tale of a family decimated by a silent killer. The reader grows and learns with Derek as he decides to embark on a mission to break the Gray family curse, and be the first male in generations to see 50.

Derek quotes Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn “Family history loads the gun, lifestyle pulls the trigger.” We go on a journey with Derek as he takes his already healthy lifestyle to the next level.

This book is about a lot of things. It’s about baseball, it’s about family, it’s about life, it’s about death, and it’s about controlling your own fate even when the odds are stacked against you. It provides an enormous amount of perspective. Some people who “should” live to 90 die way too soon, and others who “should” live to 40 live a lot longer. Life is precious, treasure it, and the best way to treasure it, is to take care of it.

It is an interesting read. I (a fan of owning a physical copy of a book) was able to remain interested as I made swipe after swipe on my Kindle. One final thing, baseball fans beware. You grow so attached to the Gray family that you may find yourself subconsciously rooting for their beloved Yankees.


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