Right around Valentines day of 2016, my cousin Sharlette presented me with an unexpected gift, Ta-nehisi Coates’ latest book, “Between the World and Me.” I had heard from various sources how awesome the book was, and how much it struck a chord with those who read it. Because I enjoy reading, but tend to not read nearly as much (or at all) when I’m working on any extended writing projects, I hadn’t read nearly enough as of late.
Because of the size of the book, I had resolved that I would read the book in a day, if for no other reason than to be able to say, “Yeah, I read that book in a day.” *This may be nothing to avid readers, but between my vision and overactive imagination, I’m not the fastest reader.
When I began reading this particular book, I felt a tinge of regret for making the aforementioned resolve, because I quickly recognized that this book was going to be that perfect mixture of pain, pleasure and anxiety readers feel with that perfect read. I tweeted this after I finished the book: “Just finished ‘Between the World and Me’ by @tanehisicoates. It was the most beautifully heartbreaking love letter I’ll likely ever read.”
The book, written for Coates’ then fifteen year old son, articulated virtually everything it meant to be a black male in this country. What it meant to grow up, to go to school, to go to college (we were apparently at Howard at the same time, although I don’t think I ever made his acquaintance).
Again, I didn’t necessarily need to be told how I felt, but for someone I never met to be able to tell a story so close to mine, even though we didn’t have the same background, was striking on a level I am not fully able to articulate. The painful aspect was that such a book needed to be written and passed on to a child–his child–speaks to so many unspoken things. Things, that when spoken, often fall upon deaf ears. To read this book, however, is undeniably a testament and an ode to growing up as a black male in this country.
This book is the perfect way to figure out how to talk to any young boy of color who is on the verge of becoming a young man. These conversations need to be had, and this story should be considered as mandatory reading for high school aged children in my humble opinion. Not only should you buy this book and read it, you should buy an extra copy and give it to someone who could really benefit from reading it as well. This book gets a 5 out of 5.0