A rebellious boy’s journey through the wilds of urban America and the shrapnel of a self-destructing family—this is the riveting story of a generation told through one dazzlingly poetic new voice.
MK Asante was born in Zimbabwe to American parents: a mother who led the new nation’s dance company and a father who would soon become a revered pioneer in black studies. But things fell apart, and a decade later MK was in America, a teenager lost in a fog of drugs, sex, and violence on the streets of North Philadelphia. Now he was alone—his mother in a mental hospital, his father gone, his older brother locked up in a prison on the other side of the country—and forced to find his own way to survive physically, mentally, and spiritually, by any means necessary.
Buck is a powerful memoir of how a precocious kid educated himself through the most unconventional teachers—outlaws and eccentrics, rappers and mystic strangers, ghetto philosophers and strippers, and, eventually, an alternative school that transformed his life with a single blank sheet of paper. It’s a one-of-a-kind story about finding your purpose in life, and an inspiring tribute to the power of education, art, and love to heal and redeem us.
Unlike any memoir I've read to date, this unconventional narrative rich with urban vernacular and blended lyrical prose was a testament to the human strength of a person whose life dysfunction went from becoming a statistic to the redemption of renewed soul. Such an engaging read with a strong voice who permeated the pages, told a story that represented the struggle of many whom often go unheard.
Buck was a different sort of memoir. Unlike your "traditional", this seemed to have a novel feeling giving it a more informal, comfortable ease that connected to the reader. Like so many living in America's inner cities, this captured a reality of the kind of life one faces young and "alone" battling the environmental perils that have claimed the lives of too many that could've been destined for so much better.
The story centered around "Malo" introduced the reader to a teenager whose challenges of life led him down a path that made him fall victim to his environment. The circumstances that led to a broken home life spiraled a road that left him broken and alone. It opened his vulnerability of allowing the school of street life full of drugs, sex and violence to influence his life until tragedy struck close to home which changed his life forever.
As much as I liked the book, I will tell you that it does have some graphic language for those who may feel uncomfortable with that. Don't let that deter you because this a book that represents many young people who have been down the same path who are good at their core but made decisions out of desperation. It's a necessary story because not everyone who comes from an inner city, whose life has become influenced by their environment are bad and hopeless. Everyone has a story. As with this story, when your life hits bottom, there is no other way to go but up.
Reviewed by Michelle Bowles
Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
Publication date: 8/20/2013