Walking in My Joy: In These Streets

Amistad: HarperCollins. Aug. 2022. 256p. ISBN 9780063079656. $28.99. MEMOIR
Lewis, the outspoken, hilariously profane, and wildly entertaining actress and activist, follows up her no-holds-barred memoir Mother of Black Hollywood with a new and equally entertaining collection of autobiographical essays. One chapter movingly pays tribute to growing up with her favorite cousin Ronnie (“part cousin, part sibling, part soulmate,” she clarifies). “Ronnie [who was gay] was the beginning, and since then it has been me and a hundred million gay boys running around any town I set foot in,” she writes. After Ronnie’s death in the 1990s, Lewis’s grief almost swallowed her, she writes, until she came to realize that “my pain was merely the receipt, the proof that I had loved.” A decade later, Lewis met a young, eager fan named DJ, to whom she felt an instant connection. (“He had been sent to me. Maybe by Ronnie,” she writes.”) DJ would fast become Lewis’s assistant and move into her basement (and, soon after, win a spot on RuPaul’s Drag Race, competing as his drag persona, Shangela). Lewis’s book is also forthright about her activism (climate change, pro-LGBTQ+ and Black Lives Matter, anti-Trump), written with conviction and power. Lewis’s tales are heartfelt, impassioned, and uplifting, but with a pleasing undercurrent of irreverence.
VERDICT The latest memoir by fierce and fabulous Lewis easily switches between moving confessionals and fiery calls to eradicate oppression.
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