Identity. To say it’s complicated is like saying that losing an arm might hurt a bit. Family is complex too, except that’s more like saying that lopping off your head might make filing your own taxes problematic.

For Davon Loeb, identity and family are the foundations that he stands on. Those foundations are teetering, lopsided, but also strong as tree trunks and thick as blood, and from them he has produced a remarkable book. As he says, “…this hole in my identity is the bottom of a landfill, and the bigger I build, the deeper and mightier it grows.”

This memoir, which I might call a “memoir in flash,” is an autopsy. It’s spirit surgery. It’s a peek through a crack in the wall at race in America and a fantasy lived through the eyes of a boy who just wants to belong. It’s what happens when incongruous worlds collide inside sweating flesh and a delicate mind. 

And yet, even though Davon’s story is so different from mine, the way he puts me inside his gawky kid body and throws me in the heart of thunderstorms and regresses me into a child just wanting to be loved and comforted, makes it all so familiar. 

Story by story, Loeb retraces the scars and scrapes of the past, making it feel all too fresh. He, as a young child, holds our hand and takes us back to the world that was so wide and full of possibility, and yet so haunting and hazardous. And even though it’s not always pretty—hell, sometimes it’s a living nightmare—we come out feeling, if not whole, at least a little more understood and understanding.

Though Loeb warns that “It becomes a problem when we narrate other peoples’ lives…” his book makes me feel that the narratives that so often divide and isolate us could become the sutures that heal us if we share in the way that he has, with so much raw honesty and broken-openness. 

Pin It on Pinterest