As I begin writing this review of Black Boy Out of Time by Hari Ziyad, I simply don't know if I have the words to describe the beauty of this memoire. Calling it anything less than beautiful, brave, and powerful is just not an option.
For a memoire it's written in a bit of an unusual way but that's not a negative judgement. As someone who has written my own short memoire stories, I simply understand how challenging it can be to figure out the best way to get your message across, your story told, and do it in a way people will understand and want to keep reading. And believe me, I am not comparing my journey to Mr. Ziyad's. It's just that I found his choice of prose unusual but it worked for me.
Mr. Ziyad presents his story using a mix of philosophical beliefs and observations, social commentary, and letters to his childhood self. In reading reviews prior to buying the book, many readers felt the same and several said they simply couldn't continue reading the "hard" parts. Well, welcome to fucking memoires. People don't usually write them because they had a shiny, happy, perfect life.
"But there are other ways to live, and there always have been."
This author has a lot to impart and it's a hard read - I won't lie about that just so you'll pick it up and give it a read. He writes about his experience growing up in a blended Hindu, Muslim, and Christian family. He also explore the treatment of black children in society in ways that made me physically flinch. He talks openly about being a gay and what that means in the black community, and is open and honest about the sexual abuse he endured - so this book comes with a trigger warning.
I highly recommend immersing yourself in this memoire. You will gain a perspective different from other authors you may have read who talk about being black, being gay, or being abused. It's a smart memoire; an intelligent read. You will learn but you will also cry.
Let me know what you think...