"Being a man to the exclusion of all other things"

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allie Avatar


There's a literary gut punch around every page in this book. Broome is frank when it comes to his experiences with racism and colorism, with homophobia, and with physical and emotional abuse. He doesn't shy away from all of the nasty ways all manner of people excluded and abused and humiliated him. His father beat him for various minor offenses. His black peers bullied him mercilessly for not fitting in. His white peers only ever used him for entertainment. He had a tough life, but he survived to tell it.

And in telling it, Broome's created a great narrative work. He's a fantastic, sharp writer. The main theme of wanting love from other people without conforming to their expectations is present throughout. There's also this recurring intermission, broken up throughout the book, called "The Initiation of Tuan." It's about a little boy that Broome sees on the bus who's on the cusp of learning what's going to be expected of him as a black boy. I always looked forward to returning to these parts; they kept the pace of the book swift and engaging. It could be argued that the last part was overly sentimental, but... I appreciated it.

This is a book for outsiders, for anyone who's been othered or abused for being themselves, but I think everyone should read it.