Published by Nation Books on May 29th 2018
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“Memory is a tricky force, especially when brutality, poverty, self-hatred, and many other unseen hands, which turn beautiful people into the monsters and victims, dictate what we remember.”
Wow! This was a very eloquent, courageous, personal, and beautifully written memoir. This first thing that got my attention was his beautiful writing, followed closely by the courage and strength it took to be so open and honest.
Darnell Moore was once a frightened young man living in a home filled with domestic violence and uncertainty. He was fourteen years old when three boys from his neighborhood tried to set him on fire. Imagine for a minute just how frightening that must have been. To have gasoline poured over you and to watch as someone attempts to light match after match. I cannot even begin to image how frightening that must have been for him. Today he is an award-winning writer, activist, and a leader in the Movement for Black Lives.
No Ashes in the Fires details his life growing up in Camden, New Jersey in the 70’s to his life now in the present. His parents were teenagers when he was born, and he details his upbringing and his families struggles. One of the parts of this book which shined for me was when he was describing his father’s hands. Moore eloquently showed how his father’s hands could be tender and loving, such as when he showed Darnell how to properly bathe and clean his body or when they were at the community pool and his father was teaching him to swim, and yet those same tender and loving hands could inflict pain and damage when used to hit and punch his wife (Darnell’s mother). How he struggled with the concept of someone being both loving and abusive.
Darnell also talks in detail about his sexuality. How he was bullied because his peers thought that he was gay, how he experimented sexually in secret, how he sought out connection, love and sex. How he didn’t feel safe and tried to keep his sexual orientation a secret. Later in the book he shared how he came out to his Mother and learned that she always knew.
“Her acceptance was more healing than any prayer, more uplifting than any group counseling session, more powerful than any force of hate I internalized.”
The Author does not stop there, he details racism, a health issues he experienced when he was younger, identity, domestic violence, family, community, hope, determination, acceptance, love, equality, sexual orientation, and self-love. He opens the pages of his life, so to speak, he lays it bare, for us to read – the good, the bad and the ugly. He shows us the events in his life that lead him to be the man he is today. His writing is deeply personal and beautiful.
I highly recommend this book.
Thank you to Perseus Books and NetGalley who provided me with a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.