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The Education of Kevin Powell: A Boy's Journey into Manhood

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In the spirit of Piri Thomas’s Down These Mean Streets and Maya Angelou’s I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, writer and activist Kevin Powell’s memoir—“illuminating…an education for us all” (USA Today)—vividly recounts the horrific poverty of his youth and his struggles to overcome a legacy of anger, violence, and self-hatred. When Kevin Powell was three, he discovered the vo In the spirit of Piri Thomas’s Down These Mean Streets and Maya Angelou’s I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, writer and activist Kevin Powell’s memoir—“illuminating…an education for us all” (USA Today)—vividly recounts the horrific poverty of his youth and his struggles to overcome a legacy of anger, violence, and self-hatred. When Kevin Powell was three, he discovered the volatile nature of his world: a place of pain, poverty, violence, fire, rats, roaches, and a fear that would haunt him for years; but also moments of joy, transcendence, and belonging. By the time he graduated from high school, something his single mother and his grandparents did not do, Powell had survived abuse, abandonment by his father, debilitating low self-esteem, a police beating, and years of constant relocation—from school to school, neighborhood to neighborhood. He was left feeling isolated, wondering if his life had any value, and doubting that he would survive to see old age. In this unflinchingly honest autobiography, Kevin Powell reflects on his tumultuous, turbulent passage from child to man. He revisits the path that led him to become a successful writer, public speaker, activist, and cast member on the influential first season of MTV’s The Real World. He also recalls the terrible lows he endured of depression, thoughts of suicide, alcoholism, bankruptcy, doomed relationships, failed political campaigns, and the soul-shattering murder of Tupac Shakur. Time and again, Powell harks back to lessons his mother taught him as a little boy: never stop learning, never stop telling the truth, always strive to be a better man, do what is right. Written with urgency and insight by one of the most gifted voices of our times, The Education of Kevin Powell is a powerful chronicle of healing and growth, survival and redemption. Ultimately, Kevin Powell’s journey is our journey, too.


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In the spirit of Piri Thomas’s Down These Mean Streets and Maya Angelou’s I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, writer and activist Kevin Powell’s memoir—“illuminating…an education for us all” (USA Today)—vividly recounts the horrific poverty of his youth and his struggles to overcome a legacy of anger, violence, and self-hatred. When Kevin Powell was three, he discovered the vo In the spirit of Piri Thomas’s Down These Mean Streets and Maya Angelou’s I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, writer and activist Kevin Powell’s memoir—“illuminating…an education for us all” (USA Today)—vividly recounts the horrific poverty of his youth and his struggles to overcome a legacy of anger, violence, and self-hatred. When Kevin Powell was three, he discovered the volatile nature of his world: a place of pain, poverty, violence, fire, rats, roaches, and a fear that would haunt him for years; but also moments of joy, transcendence, and belonging. By the time he graduated from high school, something his single mother and his grandparents did not do, Powell had survived abuse, abandonment by his father, debilitating low self-esteem, a police beating, and years of constant relocation—from school to school, neighborhood to neighborhood. He was left feeling isolated, wondering if his life had any value, and doubting that he would survive to see old age. In this unflinchingly honest autobiography, Kevin Powell reflects on his tumultuous, turbulent passage from child to man. He revisits the path that led him to become a successful writer, public speaker, activist, and cast member on the influential first season of MTV’s The Real World. He also recalls the terrible lows he endured of depression, thoughts of suicide, alcoholism, bankruptcy, doomed relationships, failed political campaigns, and the soul-shattering murder of Tupac Shakur. Time and again, Powell harks back to lessons his mother taught him as a little boy: never stop learning, never stop telling the truth, always strive to be a better man, do what is right. Written with urgency and insight by one of the most gifted voices of our times, The Education of Kevin Powell is a powerful chronicle of healing and growth, survival and redemption. Ultimately, Kevin Powell’s journey is our journey, too.

30 review for The Education of Kevin Powell: A Boy's Journey into Manhood

  1. 5 out of 5

    Tamara

    A fitting title This memoir exceeded my expectations for its honest account and Powell's willingness to keep learning, growing, and discovering more about himself and the world around him. Admittedly, I was turned off by his abusive past and approached the book as a skeptic - unsure if there was much to be said that could change my initial impression. How wrong I was to feel that way. It's precisely that past and Powell's refusal to gloss over or excuse such behavior that made learning about his A fitting title This memoir exceeded my expectations for its honest account and Powell's willingness to keep learning, growing, and discovering more about himself and the world around him. Admittedly, I was turned off by his abusive past and approached the book as a skeptic - unsure if there was much to be said that could change my initial impression. How wrong I was to feel that way. It's precisely that past and Powell's refusal to gloss over or excuse such behavior that made learning about his life so interesting. We never hear him blame others or even his experiences for causing his temper but it's knowledge of his living in extreme poverty, violent childhood and feelings of abandonment that humanize him in a way that I wasn't prepared to do. Highly recommend this book.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Hadiya Ari

    Amazing This book has challenged me to write my story. long overdue. A must read for all men regardless of race.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Joni (Jonez)

    4.5 Raw, honest, and moving. I love, as I always have, Powell's voice. Such a good read.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Richard Owen

    The whole book is well written. Kevin Powell does understand how to construct thoughtful, well- structured sentences and paragraphs. And he has lived a life that offers a broad range of experiences with many high points and many low points. My dilemma is that I was disappointed in the second half of the book based on listening to Kevin Powell's interview on Death, Sex, and Money. I took from the interview that the author would explore how he learned to control his anger and his abuse of women. I The whole book is well written. Kevin Powell does understand how to construct thoughtful, well- structured sentences and paragraphs. And he has lived a life that offers a broad range of experiences with many high points and many low points. My dilemma is that I was disappointed in the second half of the book based on listening to Kevin Powell's interview on Death, Sex, and Money. I took from the interview that the author would explore how he learned to control his anger and his abuse of women. I don't think that happened. At least it doesn't go far enough into the challenges he faced and the strategies he used to transform himself from being reactive to proactive. As a father of three young men, I was looking forward to this book as a guide to other young men coming to understand women. Not so, in my opinion. But I am willing to bet that if Kevin Powell chooses to write the book that gets to the nitty gritty of change and transformation, it will be good!

  5. 5 out of 5

    Teresa

    A story of resilience and perseverance Kevin Powell bears his soul in this brutally honest and detailed account of the trials and tribulations of his life to date. Just when you think that Powell has overcome his obstacles and found success, life manages to throw him another curveball. Captivating and beautifully written Powell’s memoir is a great reminder of standing for what you believe, following your heart and most importantly, knowing your heritage. A must read!

  6. 4 out of 5

    jERROLD A WILLIAMS

    Interesting book I remembered him from "the real world" show on MTV. That was the first and only season I watched. I also heard him on a radio show with Tim Wise and decided to read his book. I enjoyed the book and his life story.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Arnold Gonzalez

    I think this book is really good and interesting, it shows the authors life of poverty, abuse and abandonment. Reading it gives me chills at points in the book.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Deafinition

  9. 4 out of 5

    Jade Tucker

  10. 4 out of 5

    Tyler Lewis

  11. 5 out of 5

    Alison

  12. 5 out of 5

    Mandy

  13. 4 out of 5

    John LeMay

  14. 5 out of 5

    Mary Dickinson

  15. 5 out of 5

    Kim Hollinger

  16. 5 out of 5

    Amira Z

  17. 5 out of 5

    Brenda Shannon

  18. 4 out of 5

    Vernise Knighton

  19. 5 out of 5

    Marnie Kaplan

  20. 5 out of 5

    Deborah F Topcik

  21. 4 out of 5

    Adrienne

  22. 4 out of 5

    Stephanie Spears

  23. 4 out of 5

    Loren

  24. 5 out of 5

    Anton

  25. 5 out of 5

    Daniel E. Sesma

  26. 4 out of 5

    Fanon Wilkins

  27. 5 out of 5

    Andrea

  28. 5 out of 5

    Brigid

  29. 5 out of 5

    Patricia Allard

  30. 4 out of 5

    Jacqueline Randazzo

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