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Readers` Reviews

★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
rachel bemis
Coates' book is a public appreciation of his parents' labors to keep him alive physically, mentally, and spiritually during the crack wars that coincided with his turbulent teenage years. He makes it out. But the trail wound around some hairpin curves overlooking precipitous cliffs that stopped the heart cold. He knows how close he and his siblings came to falling over the edge. He was lucky in his all-too-human father who was always there when the principal called to say Coates misbehaved and a mother who clawed out an entree into Howard University for her underperforming yet promising child. He clearly loves them and is grateful for their struggle and high expectations of him.

Coates writes beautiful crackling prose that energizes the book. Its a quick and pleasurable read.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
adam banas
African-Americans have struggled to acquire their voice in American culture. We have had uncertain biographies and stories written by others; in the last century we had the eruption of Harlem when black voices began to be more fully heard.

It's still difficult to write those stories, but more and more black Americans are telling their lives, not to justify them or to make their unknown presence known, but to say "I am here and this is what I think and feel. Take me on my own words; accept me for my own values."

Mr. Coates' autobiography is of that vein, giving of himself in this, his first nationally known book. We see the life of a young black man in America in the 80s, like any kid simply trying to exist in a universe that is inexplicable and hostile. He is not creating a grand arc of history: he is simply saying "This happened. To me. To my brother. To my father. To my mother. To my friends, my family, my school, my neighborhood, my culture."

There are the moments of grand explanation where he gives his insight as he tells his tale, and then their are moments of awful poignancy when he simply describes a boy living in the pages of a book surrounded by the chaos of urban violence and decay, a world that is collapsing around him but shored up by ordinary people who struggle to make sense and to keep order.

This would be a good book solely for the writing alone: Mr. Coates is a extraordinarily gifted writer, quick, insightful, laugh-out loud funny at times with a wry turn of phrase, or disquieting when he slips into code to speak at us rather than with us.

But it is a great book because it is simply a man describing what it is to become one. It is the struggle of ordinariness, it is the beauty of accomplishment, it is the story of that moment when a man says "I am."

It is an awful thing, really, when someone reaches across the pages of a book and touches you, when he says "Hear me," when you open your eyes and say "I see you." There is such humanness in this book, such artful play, such ardent passion about being alive.

I do not buy many books outright, but this is one I was more than happy to purchase because I wanted to give back a little to someone who has given so much in the writing of this book.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
marilyn anderson
I've been a fan of Ta-Nehisi Coates via his blog at The Atlantic since '08, and fully expected to enjoy this memoir just based on the commonalities I'd already found in his writing. More than a memoir, it's a prose poem; a non-linear, unapologetically free verse ode to his formative years.

Five years my junior, Coates' childhood had many parallels and intersections with my own, and for me, this book is to memoir as Willie Perdomo was/is to poetry. In the moments I didn't see myself in these pages, I saw family and friends; I saw the Bronx of the '80s, and my own move to the suburbs. For him, there was the djembe; for me, poetry, the difference being it came much later in life for me. On the question of fathers, and what makes a good one, I'd side with what he seemingly realizes in the end, that being flawed and present is better than being absent.

Such a powerful read. Highly recommended!
Invisible Man :: Citizen: An American Lyric :: The Fire Next Time :: Reflections on Race from a Privileged Son - White Like Me :: Tears We Cannot Stop: A Sermon to White America
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
thomas taylor
Ta-Nehisi Coates introduces readers to a new and intriguing coming-of-age story, The Beautiful Struggle: A Father, Two Sons and An Unlikely Road to Manhood that takes place in Baltimore during the height of the Hip-Hop and Drug era. Paul Coates was a Vietnam Veteran who returned to the chaotic streets of Baltimore and became a leader in the city's Black Panther Party. Armed with determination, Paul Coates was a disciplinarian that strived for success and knowledge. Ta-Nehisi discusses his father's emphasis on knowledge and understanding your history in order to succeed. Ta-Nehisi admits to struggling in school as he attempted to find his way; yet he maintained the teachings of his father. He also discusses the path chosen by an older brother that teetered on self-destruction and then recovery.

Paul Coates' story is very refreshing. It is not the story of a former Black Panther but of a father's determination to raise his sons. Armed with knowledge, consciousness, common sense and self-worth, Ta-Nehisi Coates tells of his failures and triumphs into man-hood that were guided by his father and aided by his mother and teachers. Though his father was strict, you could feel the love in all of his actions. Ta-Nehisi Coates' writing style is simplistic and engaging. Each page encourages you to continue to the next. Everyone that reads it will appreciate this story but it is especially recommended for young men and those raising young men.

Reviewed by: Priscilla C. Johnson
APOOO BookClub
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
cesar leon
This early novel by Coates is at first difficult for the mainstream reader, so dependent is it on the language of hip hop and basketball. But as the reader continues to explore the intriguing narrative of two sons and their Black Panther father, the urban landscape widens, from the streets of Baltimore to the Mecca of Howard University. Indeed a Beautiful Struggle....
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
this book has shed some deep seeded thoughts about why the black man has been so faithful to the whites in our society. we have no legal representation more so in the past. and it lives today. when Coates spoke up about the treatment of his black son in the book. How the whites threaten to call law enforcement on him. This shows how systemic racism is still in this country. although blacks have achieved so much under this Jim Crow system. We are still viewed in so many eyes as animals and is not entitle to equality as white people,
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
leon rowley
I chanced upon Coates' while on some desultory web session one day. I am an undergraduate at Rochester Institute of Technology--an amazing institution of higher learning; but one very lacking in diversity. Discovering Coates was a blessing. I read about his story, his career, his path to success, and this inspired me. His faculty with prose is stunning and is an update in the rich tradition of African-Amrican writers and intellectuals. Naturally, when I learned that he had already published a memoir, I jumped right on it; and I loved every minute of it. Coates' ability to relate--owing to his field of experience--is uncanny; mine almost parallels his. I am from the greater DMV area, and so many markers, geographically, linked me with his story. The music, the parlance, the experience of growing up in the inner city, is so accessible for me and impressed me without end. This is a gem of a memoir and should be read by all; especially my peers who wonder how, or even if, they can make it in this backward world. Life is a struggle; but as Coates so eloquently conveys, it is a thing of beauty.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
joe fernandez
Or rather I was not sure what to expect. But the book turned out to be a real pleasure to read. Informative and lively with an interesting and unique style that fit perfectly with the context of the storyline. I was raised in a world far removed from the one described here and came away feeling like my perspective had been lifted from beneath and advanced to a new and better vantage point. I will make time for more of Mr. Coates.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
mary foster
This was a beautifully written novel, that at times felt like it was almost poetry. The way a concrete and engaging story was taken and then make almost mythical (the streets of Baltimore being filled with orcs to clumsily reference an example) was awesome. I came from a very different place than the author but he made it very real and engaging.

I got this book because I follow the authors blog at the Atlantic ([...]) where he is perhaps the greatest thinker and writer I know of in this age. He has an understanding and willingness to be fair and look at things coupled with an intellectual hunger to understand that leaves me in awe and I find inspirational.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
anish bhatt
Well, to start off with I have recently moved to TNC's (Ta-Nehisi Coates) old stomping ground, so I'm biased. The RPG-like map of West Baltimore at the start of the book was a little eery--for example the k-mart where a disturbing revelation is given to TNC by his father is where I bought my coffee grinder. For that matter I hung out and read the book in Druid Hill Park--another landmark in the book.
So yeah, if you're from B'more, buy this book. If you're not, buy this book anyway-- TNC drops some consciousness on the reader as well as some tender and intimate details about growing up as a... well a nerd... in the crack age.
And if you can't get enough of TNC he also blogs at [...]
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
I absolutely love Ta-Nehisi Coates' writing for the Atlantic and his blog, so this was a must have. Although I found parts of more interesting than others, it never failed to provide an interesting picture of a writer and thinker I admire. It also provoked thought about stereotypes in the news and other books, made me think about family, and gave me a richer picture of kids growing up in lives quite different than my own. Can't beat that!
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
A really wonderful, insightful portrait of a young man. I'm a white kid that grew up in the suburbs of the Midwest, so my experience could not be more different from Coates's. And yet he writes so beautifully and with such feeling that you become immersed in his world. Also, if you haven't read Coates's blog (at the Atlantic), stop what you are doing and go do so now. Best blog I have ever read.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
betsy housten
The title is perfect. Birth, life, and death are all struggles until your teacher appears and explains these dynamics clearly. Parents are the first teachers. Ta-Nehisi is a brilliant young man. Any young man can achieve if he has guidance. His relationship with his Dad; specifically the support and encouragement/discipline. The book is honest and forthright. I am proud of this young man and his scholarship. I am waiting for the next book. I purchased a couple and gifted them to a few of my mentees/nephews. I look forward to meeting Ta-Nehisi in person. Until then, " The Beautiful Struggle Continues!!!!" Jarig A. Zakariya. Peace.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
mona bacon
Exceptionally thoughtful and moving book by a thoughtful and intelligent writer. If you are familiar with him form The Atlantic magazine then this is another side of him. It is about growing up black, about growing up odd, about growing up with a strong male role model (his dad) and about growing up as boy and becoming a man. If you are not black then reading this book is as much about our similarities as about our differences.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
I really enjoyed this look into a culture and a life unlike my own. I get a small feeling of what it would be like to have a father that pushed me to go beyond the normal of life. Overall a good book.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
I could write this book or part II. I know you can get the real flavor of this time and maybe it will bring things up to date for the folks around you that are over 60 years old and still have unfinished business in the community.
★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆
I read this book because it was chosen by a member of my book club as our June selection. My reason for joining a book club was to force me out of my comfort zone. Well, this book certainly did it. Page after page, I waited for something to draw me into the story line. There were moments that I was hopeful, but it soon tapered off. I'm almost certain that our book club discussion will be far more livelier than the book. I'm happy to see that this book attracted so many others; however, it was a boring read for me. I'm glad that I done reading it.

This review is not to slam the writer but to note that there are many favored colors in a rainbow, this was just not one of them for me.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
Ta-Nehisi Coates is a national correspondent for The Atlantic and the author of the #1 New York Times bestseller BETWEEN THE WORLD AND ME, a finalist for the National Book Award. A MacArthur “Genius Grant” fellow, Coates has received the National Magazine Award, the Hillman Prize for Opinion and Analysis Journalism, and the George Polk Award for his Atlantic cover story "The Case for Reparations."

Needless to say, he doesn't need **my** little book review. I should say I'm a huge fan of Mr. Coates' writing. I adored BtWaM, and I've pushed copies on at least five people in the last couple of years, purchased on my dime. I probably should take advice I heard once about never reviewing an author who is your friend or enemy. He is neither. I'm just a fan. So it is with real angst that I say, this is a memoir that probably should have waited.

I had high expectations. Perhaps audio wasn't the way to "read" this. Perhaps I waited too long, after reading all of Coates' journalism and his beautiful Between the World and Me. It just didn't wow me the way I'd hoped. What it did do is make me want him to wait a decade and write another memoir. Perhaps I'll come back to this after letting it digest, or perhaps I'll pick up the written word and read it properly someday.

Being a Baltimorean who lived in and knows the neighborhoods, it was easy to imagine everything he mentions. He's also very close to my age. Both of these things make it hard for me to understand why I wasn't more affected by this book. Nonetheless, I'll keep reading every single thing he writes, and I will certainly be in line for the next memoir whenever he's ready to write another one.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
erik tierney
Last night, as the many peaceful protests occurred in cities around the country over the latest police killings of African-American people (Alton Sterling in Baton Rouge and Philando Castile in Minnesota), I finished reading Ta-Nehisi Coates’ memoir The Beautiful Struggle (New York: Spiegel and Grau, 2008). Coates has been called the ‘angry black man of choice for progressive-type white people,’ and perhaps there is some truth to that quip. His writing manages to be angry but not bitter, highly educated while somehow sounding more authentically gritty.

The Beautiful Struggle is almost a love letter to his father, W. Paul Coates, a former Black Panther, and the founder of the Black Classic Press. Coates’ more recent book, also a memoir of sorts–but one written as a love letter to his own son-(and a much stronger book in my opinion), is Between the World and Me (New York: Spiegel and Grau, 2015). As I look at these two books of his lying side-by-side on my desk, I realize the covers of both (as well as of the hardback edition of The Beautiful Struggle) are black and white and red. A classic and powerful color combination, but also one that today, as the violence and killings of not only African-Americans but also of the Dallas police officers continues and just seems to escalate, black and white and red takes on a new—and gruesome—visual meaning.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
katey howes
Powerful memoir about the struggle to simply survive and live to manhood for a young Baltimore youth born in the city's rough & tumble western neighborhoods. Even with both parents present and rock solid in his life, pushing their son to learn, to grow, to avoid the usual easy outs (a life of crime, and an early death), Coates shares a sobering account of the daily challenges facing young African-Americans. With a mix of street slang and beautiful prose, he poetically takes the reader along a harrowing path through the innumerable hurdles of an inner city life. One comes away from this read appreciating the triumph accomplished to live to tell his story, although you get the uneasy feeling that the battle is perhaps never really completed, because we of white America will always hold the color of someone's skin against them, if it's not lily white.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
patience blythe
This book is a true gem, as memoir and as political commentary, and it flows with authentic poetic sensibility: distilled to pure beautiful language. As Toni Morrison has stated, Ta-Nehisi Coates is required reading. I would add to this that his writing (including Between the World and Me and his essay on Reparations found in The Atlantic Monthly) is requisite as normative reading. That is, in addition to being offered in "ethnic" type courses such as African American studies, should be offered as routine required reading in a more general context.
Very strongly recommended as a coming of age story for any race/gender/orientation/age, etc, etc.
Do not miss this one....
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
This is Coates first book about his life growing up in Baltimore. I assumed that he was a studious young man which he was to a certain extent, but he allowed his environment to dictate to him. So much potential in him but would he succeed? He grew up in an Afrocentric home and had a longing desire to go to Historically Black College or University. Not any college but Howard University which he fondly refers to as "The Mecca." Read the book to find out his journey to college. Now, I can appreciate his other book more "Between the World and Me" which is about his time in college.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
shannon ziegler
As an 60+ white women there is a lot of gaps in my ability to comprehend what black youth go through compared to the white middle class version that my family was and is. This might be the clearest explanation of what it is like to grow up and make it successfully into adulthood when a teen or child does not have parents that are together, has siblings that come and go, plus inner city schools with over worked teachers who do not challenge the students. Ta-Nehisi Coates had a group of mother figures plus a biologial mother who together cared about him enough to push him harder than he wanted. His father was always a presence in his life. It seemed to take all parental figures to keep him on track and the result is a book that is clearly written and a pleasure to read.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
For those of us who came of age in the 80s and 90s in the DMV or Baltimore, Coates' memoir of his youth reads like an old melody, causing to nod and away. The feelings of fear, of happiness, of confusion, in the midst of an ever-changing social landscape made coming of age so fraught with peril, the normal ones and those particular to the region. He captures those emotions, with the unique pastiche of his upbringing, in a way that reminds me of 5 Percenters, chopping up Spike Lee movies, getting your hair cut, and navigating expectations.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
Ta'Nehisi Coates tells of his life in Baltimore growing up with his family in the ghetto. His father had been a member of the Black Panthers and raised his children to get knowledge by reading what most people did not know existed. I did not always understand what Ta'Nehisi was saying but I understood what his father was teaching him and his siblings. I also liked the history that we do not get in school. An interesting read.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
Thank you Ta-Nehisi for writing this. The Beautiful Struggle is a love story, for family, for life, for tribulations that forge character and identity. It is simply a beautiful piece of writing. The prose is exquisite, infused with a beautiful poetry and lyricism. I've read Mr. Coates journalistic work, and generally speaking can take it or leave it. I really had no idea what to expect from this book. I feel lucky to have picked it up and read it. It certainly enriched me and left me with a feeling of gratitude for life and humanity that I can't quite fully express. Highly recommended.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
This well-written memoir is a must-read, especially for those who want to learn about what some black families have to deal with in order to just survive. Once I started reading I couldn't put the book down. It's a good book to read before reading Coates' Between the World and Me. As a 79-year old white woman, I needed a good dose of reality.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
matt kaye
Hope doesn't come from the universe; the universe is indifferent and crushes everything equally. It comes from the hearts and minds that survive against odds too great to justify betting on them, but without which the cosmos is just an empty room all lit up with with no eyes to see.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
Coates displays a disarming honesty in describing a complex and unusual childhood that was both rewarding and brutal at the same time. In so many ways it was reflective of so many other black male childhoods from the 'hood, but in other very important ways it was a childhood apart. This is a wonderful read.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
dale shaw
I got this book not knowing what to expect. I was not familiar with the street lingo, so it took reading sentences twice before I could grasp the meaning. Interesting culture which I am not familiar with.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
virginia silvis
This was fascinating, although difficult to read. I can't believe how naive I was about what life in urban black American is really like, and how much things need to change. This is one of the finer memoirs I've read. More on my blog, Books Can Save a Life. :[...]
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
chuck d.

"All of us knew he was flawed, but still he retained the aura of a prophet."

One father. Seven children. Five boys. Two girls. Four mothers. Ta-Nehisi Coates has written about the beautiful struggle of raising Black boys in a country that never wanted them to be unchained. Paul Coates was a flawed man and former Black Panther but his most endearing quality was his determination to raise his children.

"He was a practicing fascist, mandating books and banning religion."

Paul Coates's most prized possession was his printing press where he resurrected old out of print African-American books and pamphlets. The press and Coates constant pressure on his sons to get the "knowledge" was the cause of constant scorn from Ta-Nehisi. Ta-Nehisi only wanted to read comic books but Hip-Hop is what brought him to the "knowledge." In the rhymes he heard the people and places that his father had been talking about for years. So he finally sought out the press without any coaxing from his father. As a student Ta-Nehisi just barely kept his head above water. His mind wandered. He was always on guard against the neighbor thugs. He was awkward. His parent's dreams of him going to the Mecca were diminishing fast. The Mecca was Howard University. Paul took a job there just so his children could receive free tuition. When it came Ta-Nehisi's turn Paul was leaving Howard and Ta-Nehisi would have to get in on his own merits. He got in but barely and because of a lot of leg work from his mother.

As much as Ta-Nehisi looked up to and revered his father he held the same reverence and awe for his big brother, Big Bill. Bill could simply be described as a loose cannon. One of Paul's Panther comrades was Afeni Shakur. Afeni and her children Tupac and Sekyiwa were family friends. Growing up Ta-Nehisi always seemed to be walking in the dark but a chance meeting with a djembe brought the light. It was like the drumming redeemed him and there was something he finally connected with. The women were lost in this memoir. They remained in the shadows. Overall, I fell in love with this dysfunctional/nuclear family.

"To be a black male is to be always at war..."
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
This is an amazing memoir of a Black youth in Baltimore and his father's efforts to keep him safe and out of the crack environment around him. The delicious prose style is the highlight of the book for me. He loads page after page with metaphors of charm and grace. The amount of bad words was off-putting at first, and it took me 40 pages before I decided to finish the book. We are reading this book for a book club, and one friend said she needed a dictionary to survive it. There are indeed a ton of idioms and references that I did not follow, and I really don't think they are in a dictionary either; but the writing is so glorious, I would just overlook these sentences and wait anxiously for the next wonderous phrasing. This is the kind of book I might pick uip and read again every few years for the sheer pleasure of his language.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
diana kulaczkowskey
Truly one of the most powerful, lyrical memoirs I've read. The reader aches with recognition and hope in witnessing the struggle of one young man with the force of his parents' absolute determination that he will not be lost to the streets and the dark allure of releasing his own grip and allowing the river of hopelessness, self-abandonment, and despair sweep him along and ultimately drown him. Coates' honesty is remarkable and his triumphs hard fought and hard won. The writing itself flows with the same power that is found in skillfully written poetry - it surges into the unconsciousness in almost wordless images that speak to the vulnerable and struggling part of all of us. HIGHLY recommended.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
snehal modi
THE BEAUTIFUL STRUGGLE illustrates the streets of 1980's Baltimore as assembly line for absentee fathers, high school drop-outs, gang members, prisoners and ex-cons. Mr. Coates' memoir reads as both proof positive of the difference a father's love can make and as a manual for fathers and sons on how to be from the streets, but not of the streets.

I recommend this book. Read my full review of THE BEAUTIFUL STRUGGLE here -->
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
brad parker
You know, as one escalates in age, but in particularly, in maturity with a little dose of wisdom and a touch of discernment, you begin to look at your parents as multi dimensional people. You realize, no they were not put on this earth to make your life miserable and without even consciously realizing it, the life lessons they taught you, the pitfalls they tried to keep you from falling into, become your reality. Ta-Nehisi Coates has penned a memoir for the hip hop( the ORIGINAL hip hop) generation. What I appreciated about Mr. Coates recollection of his childhood and coming of age tale was the fact that he didn't try to explain, defend or deny his father. He simply opened the door to the portals of ones mind, so that we can see the trials and triumphs of an american family. I appreciate Mr. Coates forth rightness about his father's inability to me faithful to any one woman, and how that may or may not have affected him. One of the most humorous passages of the book is when the elder Coates has enlisted Ta-Nehisi to go through the labyrinth of books and pamphlets in the garage and he proceeds to write line by line what Ta-Nehisi did or didn't do even down to Ta-Nehisi playing with his younger brother! That was classic! A heart wrenching passage is when the younger Mr. Coates shares with the reader his fathers utter disappointment and advising him of how he has shamed the Coates name. I will never forget, Ta-Nehisi advising the reader that no matter what you have heard about black men/boys, they do not want to fail or be deemed as a failure. This to me is one of the best memoirs for our generation and generations to come. I look forward to hearing more from this man.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
This is a very good book. This young man is an awesome writer. As a person who loves books and good stories by African American authors, I was very pleased with this book and highly recommend it. The title is very appropriate.
★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
brandy boeckeler
I've never read a memoir quite like this one. Ta-Nehisi talks about his parents' patented "look of Not Playing" and calls the bullies from rival neighborhoods "orcs," immediately evoking faceless, hooded menaces, as chilling on the page as they likely were as he tried to outrun them, growing up. He calls Howard University "Mecca." Street smarts are The Knowledge. Tribal rites of passage you usually only read about in books on African History or see on documentaries take place on the streets DC and Northern Virginia.

The Beautiful Struggle is like an urban Pilgrim's Progress, a hip-hop infused allegory about how to survive Baltimorean boyhood, about how to overcome academic mediocrity, about how to stop acting as your own eclipse and finding some way--any way--to shine.

It feels nonlinear and random at turns, but even at its most tangential, it holds your attention and nearly every page contains a sentence so lush or confessional you can't help but envy its construction.

Dude's the real deal. Read it.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
alex walker
As someone who grew up as a "county boy" around the same period as this book there was a lot of things that I could relate to. I saw myself and my childhood and my relationship with my father at times when reading this book. Though my experiences were not quite the same I do share a lot of similarities with the author and how he was raised.

An excellent read as well as a great insight on growing up in a city that forced you to be hard even if you were not built for that.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
Some stories are petit fours perfectly placed on dessert doilies and chased with chamomile tea. This story is not. This is a heartfelt center cut penned in rhythmic motion to the beat of Mr. Coates own djembe. I savored every word, marked passages that gave me goosebumps, and feared missing the next course if I put it down. Though I would've liked to know a bit more about the mother figure in this struggle, it is an aptly named triumph for both reader and writer, and in the end I dipped my biscuit in the gravy and smiled. Score one for us Mr. Coates.
★ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
makenzie dolnick
This man is a poser and a fraud whose egotistical writing of what white intelligentsia wants to hear about blacks serves only to worsen the lives of the poor he left behind in Baltimore that he most likely never met. Reading between the lines and concentrating on unexplained facts in this book and his book Between the World and Me shows him to have been given every opportunity that America can give: well educated parents who taught him reading and writing beginning at age 3; excellent schooling such as French classes in grade 7; an extended family with plenty of financial support that could have lived the "Dream" in the suburbs if they wanted but choose not to do so because his father liked being a playboy having multiple children with multiple women that is his version of an extended family; college for five years without the debt but still dropping out; has never had a real job in his whole life; and was a bully in grade school and high school to his teachers and other "black bodies"; and much more. The only violence inflicted upon him was by his dad. It is clear he never had any experience with police or crime other than causing it and getting away with it. He is now a "genius" because he writes what rich white people want to hear about blacks. Slavery and being black is the best thing that every happened for him or he would be just another college drop out white dude with no future and no past that anyone cared about.
★ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
renee ann giggie
While the author is a talented writer -- and his blog is a must read daily -- his sometimes lack of personal insight mars an interesting story. His father is an intriguing character, with many contradictions between personal and professional. Some would say some of his father's parenting borders on abusive, others would say such directness is necessary in this type of environment.

Plus, Coates' humor -- you've got to read of his parents' courtship -- is wonderful and moves the story beautifully.
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