What It Is About: Shaka tells his story of growing up in middle-class Detroit with his parents and siblings. When his parents divorced and his mother's abuse grew worse, Shaka found himself out on the streets at a very young age. He began to hang out with the wrong people, began to do drugs, and then became a drug dealer himself. His life got very messy and he kept making the wrong choices. After an incredibly wrong decision, he was sent to prison for murder. He spent nineteen years behind bars. When he first entered the prison system, he was angry, mean, and was out to get everyone. The more time he was in prison, he began to really look at his life, the choices he made, and why he was where he was. Shaka also wanted to be the best dad he could be for his son on the outside. He decided to do everything in his power to turn his life around. The memoir alternates between the years before his incarceration and the years he spent in a cell.
What I Thought Of It: I don't read a lot of memoirs, but when I do I always find myself enjoying them. This was a great and powerful read. It was fascinating to read about a boy that had everything going for him and the choices he made to change all of that. I find prison life to be intriguing and those chapters were spell binding. I loved how he was able to make a shift within himself and do everything in his power to change while behind bars. His writing is superb and he has so much to say and share. It would be awesome to hear him speak in person. Even though there were many down and depressing themes to his story, when I finished I felt uplifted and ready to make my own life better.
Who Should Read It: I know that readers of memoir will find this a great read. If readers enjoy stories of difficult beginnings and coming back from those beginnings, then this is the story for them. I think this would make for a great read for high school readers and adult readers. Remember, the recommendation doesn't only come from me, but Oprah too. Happy Reading!
Rating: 5 STARS out of 5 Stars