I loved this book! It’s one young black man’s process of growing up and analyzing himself and the world he lives in. However, it’s not a traditional “coming of age” story with everyday minutiae. Smith includes his inspirations, frustrations, role models, and perspective on current events. It’s a politically conscious memoir.
I expected discussion of the Obama presidency, Trayvon Martin, and maybe even Malcolm X. What I was pleasantly surprised by was the insight Smith brings to the realities of being a black woman or a gay black man in today’s world. He stands up for both groups in a twenty-first century, open-hearted way.
Smith also addresses his own humanity unflinchingly, never shying away from describing the deep depression that caused him to drop out of college. Then he goes on to place his experience in the larger context of men, especially black men, expressing emotions. Or, more accurately, being taught not to talk about or treat their emotions.
Smith writes in a smooth and seemingly effortless way. He’s honed his craft since writing and editing his college newspaper. He walks the perfect line between angry black man, and being “twice as good,” as his parents encouraged. Some moments he bumps into an expressive, controlled rage. Others he’s self-deprecating. Throughout the book, he opens his mind and his heart to his readers. I, for one, finished the book feeling like I’d gained a lot of insight into one man’s experiences.