Hachette. Jun. 2021. 272p. ISBN 9780306925139. $28. MEMOIR
Fleming gives us an intimate look at his transformation from a troubled youth to an esteemed scholar and educator in this intimate memoir. Starting life as a sweet and optimistic child, he was molded by abuse, trauma, and an education system and culture that kept him from believing in himself or seeing positive representations of Black men and Black culture in the United States. The author is candid about the pain he experienced when his mother was deployed to Iraq and his siblings were scattered, each struggling to cope with the absence of a maternal figure on their own terms. Fleming has an inherent drive, but as a teen he ends up dropping out of college and selling drugs. He eventually finds a way to elevate himself and others through debate and teaching. His recollections of debate tournaments are a highlight of the memoir, showing the moments in which he discovered the power of his voice and connecting with others.
VERDICT A memoir that will appeal to many readers as a story about triumph of the will. Fleming conveys his passion for learning and teaching, in writing that is by turns entertaining and moving. This is a must-read for educators, as a professional development tool and to consider for high school curricula.
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