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Reviewed by Tammy Ruggles for Readers' Favorite
Who Am I: A Poetic Journey by William Fredrick is a poetic journey through the life of an African American man on a quest for love in all its forms, from family love to self-love to love of knowledge and beyond. But along the way he encounters hard truths like racism, a broken heart, deceit, and death, and a myriad of experiences and emotions: all that shape who he is. The purpose is to shed light on what it's like to be an African American and still thrive, love, and succeed in the face of adversity and hate.
This volume of poetry helps readers to see the effect racism has on one African American man named Todd William Fredrick Hunter, which tells us that the effects of racism can be seen in almost all aspects of our society. It's about a man trying to live up to the character he knows he is inside. You will feel the grit, heartbreak, cruelty, and sadness that the author encounters as you read. The writing is tough but lyrical, with a clever play on words in many places and a dash of humor now and then. This work can also be read as prose. Although we can never really know unless we experience it first-hand, these slice-of-life observations are what we need to see and perhaps feel what it's like to be a target of racism. I like the part where he talks about going to therapy as this can help destigmatize it and invite others to engage in it.
The dark passages in the book are balanced by lighter ones that talk about romance, love, family, and overcoming. The part on personal loss is especially moving, and by the end, you will feel that victory is possible, no matter what lies ahead in life. The best books are often the ones with great takeaways, and this book has plenty of them. So if you're looking for poetic prose with layers of meaning and good messages, Who Am I: A Poetic Journey by William Fredrick is a perfect choice.