Heavy: An American Memoir (Barnes & Noble Discover Award Winner)

Heavy: An American Memoir (Barnes & Noble Discover Award Winner)

by Kiese Laymon


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Heavy: An American Memoir 4.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 6 reviews.
DeediReads More than 1 year ago
A memoir in poetry. “I will wonder if the memories that remain with age are heavier than the ones we forget because they mean more to us, or if our bodies, like our nation, eventually purge memories we never wanted to be true.” This may have been the most personal memoir I have ever read. Laymon isn’t just writing about his life; he’s practically writing poetry about his soul. I kept being re-surprised, over and over, at just how many of his deepest, darkest, most private thoughts, feelings, and actions were put down into words for the world to read. “For the first time in my life, I realized telling the truth was way different from finding the truth, and finding the truth had everything to do with revisiting and rearranging words. Revisiting and rearranging words didn’t only require vocabulary; it required will, and maybe courage.” Laymon grew up in the Deep South, where he was exposed to sexual, physical, and emotional abuse all around him — not just to him, but also to the people he loved or idolized. He grew up hard-headed, for sure, but the contrast between this part of his personality — which was apparent from his actions — and the more introspective emotions he can now identify is striking. But perhaps the bravest, most impressive part of this book is the fact that it’s written to his mother. Like he’s telling her the story of his life and her part in it — all of it, the good and the bad. Some of it very bad. No punches held, it seems. Writing true stories about the real people in your life is scary enough; it’s a different kind of brave to write to them. “After reading Bambara, I wondered for the first time how great an American sentence, paragraph, or book could be if it wasn’t, at least partially, written to and for black Americans in the Deep South.” I’m a white woman from New York, so it’s very safe to say that my privilege keeps me from understanding or empathizing about any of the experiences Laymon describes. I expected to get a glimpse into his culture, his struggles, his life. (This is why we read memoirs, after all.) What I didn’t expect — perhaps because Laymon’s absolutely correct that so much of what’s written by black Americans is written for white people rather than to and for black Americans, as this is — was to get so wholly absorbed by the power of Laymon’s writing to the point that I temporarily forgot that I am “them.” That I may have scratched the surface of feeling, temporarily, what it’s like to be up against all of history and all of America’s whiteness. That was remarkable. And powerful.
Anonymous 7 months ago
I cannot wait to reread this, though it was definitely traumatic
Anonymous 11 months ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Good not Great
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Really well-written, beautiful. The kind of book everyone should read.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Speechless... just wow! Writing so good, it’s beyond words.