Friday, June 12, 2009

The One Book You HAVE to Read

I've blogged previously about having read some good books. Well, I just finished one that totally tops them all! In my opinion anyway. And we all know that's the only opinion that counts here at ToadMama's Web Abode!

Seriously, Hold Love Strong, by Matthew Aaron Goodman, is one of the best books I have read in a very, very long time. It is the coming-of-age story of Abraham Singleton, a black man growing up in a housing project in New York City. It is narrated by Abraham himself. It starts with Abraham's birth to his 13 year-old mother who shares a two-bedroom apartment at a high-rise project in Queens with Abraham's grandmother, uncle, aunt, and two cousins.

The characters are exceedingly well-developed. The book is about the love of Abraham's family and the struggles they face. Reading this book gives you a very real glimpse of life in the projects. It doesn't just show you, it has you living with Abraham and his family. It is so well-written, sometimes you feel like you are Abraham yourself.

I grabbed the book from the library after having only read the inside, front jacket. Imagine my shock and disbelief when, a few chapters into the book, I looked at the back cover and saw that the author is a hot, young, white man! He immerses you into ghetto life like James Frey immersed you into the life of a drug addict with A Million Little Pieces.

The next day, I had to do some research. I had to know if this story, though fiction, was accurately depicted (unlike the Frey book which was embellished quite a bit). Matthew Aaron Goodman (remember that name, it will be huge) has a Web site. The "about me" page features the picture from the back jacket of the book. I saw an e-mail address, too, so I wrote and asked about the story's accuracy, about whether anyone who had lived in those circumstances had read and commented on the book.

Here was part of his reply...
...the depiction of Ever Park is pretty accurate, or at least from what I've seen and experienced, and been told by close friends, coworkers, students I've taught, etc. I think that was the thing I most wanted to be sure of... that the people who I know and love who grew up in a place like Ever Park considered my depiction of a NYC housing project a fair and truthful rendering.
Seriously, read the book. It is raw (life in the projects, remember) and completely riveting. Note to the Moms... the language can be a bit rough, but that's reality. While I borrowed this book from the library, I may just buy my own copy to share, I liked it THAT much.

If you do read it, let me know what you think.

PS - I just ordered my own copy!


  1. See? This is just the kind of review/recommendation that would have worked on GoodReads! :-) I have a couple of other books that are on my 'to-read' list ahead of this one, but I'll have to check it out.

  2. Oh! And also? What's with you getting all kinds of quick responses to your questions these days? Got a magic touch of some sort? :-) Whatever it is, it's pretty cool.

  3. I think the e-mail Gods are smiling down upon me.

    I was thinking of you as I posted this morning, figuring you'd say something about GoodReads. (-:

    My book mentions are rare enough that my Blog is the perfect platform.


Please say something...