PUNCH ME UP TO THE GODS is a raw, powerful memoir by Brian Broome. The book is written in sections that jump between Broome‘s present-day thoughts as he sits on the public transit and essays that flash back to his childhood in Northeast Ohio and his 20s in Pittsburgh. I was excited to read the book to learn about Broome, but to also learn about his experience living in both Northeast Ohio and Pittsburgh. My life experiences are vastly different from Broome’s, but having grown up in Northeast Ohio and living in Pittsburgh since starting college I was interested in learning about the places I have lived through someone else’s perspective.
Broome’s writing, especially in his descriptions of Pittsburgh’s gay bars, was fantastic. I felt like I could picture the bars and their patrons clearly in my mind. It was also interesting to have a frame of reference to know neighborhoods and bar locations when he mentioned them. I know that wasn’t a central part of the story, but it added to my reading experience. One of my favorite essays was the one written from his mother’s perspective. I loved seeing Broome’s interpretation of what he thought she was going through right next to his memories of her. Broome’s struggles to find his footing in the Black community as a gay man, but then also not fully fitting into the gay community as a black man was heartbreaking to read about. While this book is heavy, I’m really glad I read it and will be recommending it to others as well.