The Vineyard We Knew

A Recollection of Summers on Martha's Vineyard

Non-Fiction - Memoir
322 Pages
Reviewed on 10/06/2014
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Author Biography

Kevin J. Parham is an author, professional musician, and director at a non-profit organization. Raised in West Medford, Massachusetts, he graduated from Medford High School and attended Salem State College where he earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration.

Throughout his fifteen-year career in the corporate world, Kevin has held management positions at IBM Corporation and Verizon Wireless. In addition, he has appeared before a wide range of audiences as a performing artist and public speaker.

In 2008, Kevin began work on his first book, titled: The Vineyard We Knew--A Recollection of Summers on Martha's Vineyard. It's a personal account of the summers he spent on Martha's Vineyard with his siblings and cousins when they were young and under the care of their grandmother, Carrie White.

The setting of the story is Oak Bluffs, on Martha's Vineyard, and takes place during the turbulent 1960s, under humble circumstances. It was a time when America's social and political landscapes were evolving.

Kevin shares his story through a series of vignettes that are very personal, but also universal. They open up to a reader a world that many of them will not know, but one they will still recognize. The Vineyard We Knew is almost elegiac in nature, for it creates a sense of nostalgia, even in a reader who had never been there.

The author's experiences on the Vineyard had had a profound effect on him as he grew older. Not only were they influential, but they had also molded and shaped his perspective about life and living. These experiences taught Kevin many of life's lessons, including the fact that where we end up in life and who we ultimately become is, to a great extent, the result of our environment and the choices we make along the way.

As a professional musician, Kevin has worked with an array of talented musicians, vocalists, and groups, and has toured extensively throughout the United States, Canada, and the Caribbean.

Kevin currently resides in Plymouth, Massachusetts with his wife, Olivia, and stepdaughter, Keyarah.

    Book Review

Reviewed by Maria Beltran for Readers' Favorite

Kevin J. Parham’s The Vineyard We Knew: A Recollection of Summers on Martha's Vineyard is an engaging memoir of an African-American who spent the summers of his growing up years in what is considered the playground of America’s elite. In the 1930s, Kevin’s grandmother, Carrie, bought a modest house on Pacific Avenue in Oak Bluffs, Martha’s Vineyard. It became the summer destination for her grandchildren who stayed with her from June to Labour Day. Carrie was a strict woman with an old-school mentality. She also did not tolerate disrespect and silliness. The house was of modest size with no running water but full of happy and sad memories. Looking back to those years, Kevin gives us a glimpse of life as a member of a community in the island that we seldom hear about, and we learn about their dreams and aspirations in life.

The Vineyard We Knew: A Recollection of Summers on Martha’s Vineyard is a frank and sincere memoir by a man who practically grew up in this famous island. This book is a coming-of-age memoir that is quite charming because it is written from the perspective of a child, as he reaches his adolescent and teenage years. Together with his siblings and cousins, author Kevin J. Parham experienced life with his grandmother and this yearly sojourn would ultimately help shape and influence their lives as they grew up and became adults. His no-nonsense writing style gives his story the honesty and simplicity that should be appealing to a wide range of readers. It is also interesting to observe how he looks at things differently as maturity sets in and he comes back to the island of his boyhood days. This is a book that you can empathize with, notwithstanding your race, nor your social and economic background. I highly recommend this book to everyone!