“Here for It or How to Save Your Soul in America: Essays” by R. Eric Thomas— A Memoir in Essays

Thomas, R. Eric. “Here for It or How to Save Your Soul in America: Essays”, Ballantine Books, 2020.

A Memoir in Essays

Amos Lassen

  1. Eric Thomas tells us that he didn’t know he was different “until the world told him so.” Everywhere he went, he found himself on the outside looking in. He shares with us what it means to be an “other” and does so through his own life experience. He takes us into the two worlds of his childhood: “the barren urban landscape where his parents’ house was an anomalous bright spot, and the verdant school they sent him to in white suburbia.” He struggled to reconcile his Christian identity with his sexuality and became exhausted with code-switching in college; he became famous accidentally on the internet (for the wrong reason) and had the chance to cover the 2016 election, and the ground-braking  changes that came with it later.  He searched for the answers to major questions— is it worth it and why bother when everything seems to be getting worse? He finds the answers to these questions by looking at what “normal” means and what happens when you see yourself at the center of your own story. He does this through his memoir-in-essays in which he examines “growing up seeing the world differently, finding unexpected hope, and experiencing every awkward, extraordinary stumble along the way.”

For those of us who have ever felt that we did not fit into the way society says we should, this is an extremely relevant read. While this does not seem to be a serious read, we find the answers that we need in order to move forward.
Through smart wit, we are with writer Eric Thomas as he explores dealing with identity and pop culture. His writings about the internet are brilliant are his observations about Christianity, and his ever-changing relationship with it. This is the story of a lost young man struggling to find and to form an identity. We see the ways that race, sexuality, geography and family come together to make that a process all of us should be able to relate to. I love that Thomas sees his past as compassionate and tender and that his future is filled with hope. Thomas shows us how success works and what to do when things do not go well. 

As an urban, African American, gay, professional writer. Thomas’s shares his distinct and fun voice so that we can all have t better than what he experienced.  He provides lessons so that we can all overcomes the challenges of life.  

His reflections on young love, faith, the intersectionality he lives in as a gay black man, and the importance of family are enlightening. We are finally getting a chance to see what young, black urban, gay males have to deal with. I laughed and I wept as I read; sometimes on the same page.

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