"THE BEAUTIFUL STRUGGLE: A FATHER, TWO SONS, AND AN UNLIKELY ROAD TO MANHOOD" BY TA-NEHISI COATES
At eighteen, you kids will leave this house!
These words are a harsh reminder, reserved for testosterone-riddled boys on the verge of turning 18, and near the brink of driving their parents crazy ... especially fathers.
What sustains the unique, but often murky relationship among father, son and sibling?
Ta-Nehisi Coates, author and narrator of "The Beautiful Struggle," enlightens us with heavy similes and piercing metaphors. He spills his guts on paper as he relives a childhood that immerses readers in a highly charged, emotional road to manhood.
Crack cocaine, AIDS, staggering school dropout rates and escalating teen pregnancy are only a few of the mounting social problems that plague one of the toughest neighborhoods in West Baltimore. His journey begins here.
The name Ta-Nehisi originates from the ancient Egyptians - mighty Nubians of the South. But can he live up to his noble name reserved for royalty? What booby traps await him?
Paul Coates, a hard-nosed, militant father, applies strict principles and dire consequences in raising all seven of his children who were conceived by four different women. But Ta-Nehisi is his greatest challenge hes awkward, offbeat and the exact opposite of his father when it comes to wooing the ladies.
Paul loves women. But he loves books even more. He devours them. Once a devout member of the Black Panthers, he motivates his children with literature, the ends of a black leather belt, and later with fists.
... In the middle of dinner, Bill pronounced that he couldnt wait to grow up so he could move out, make his own rules. Dad stared hard. You don't have to wait. You can go now ... Dad was at war with destiny. He was raising soldiers for all terrain ... He went upside our heads for shirking chores, for reaching across the table for the hush puppies, for knocking over a pitcher of juice. His technique was random you might get away with a sermon on the virtues of Booker T., or a woman he left behind in Vietnam. Or you might catch the swinging black leather belt.
Fourth of July, Thanksgiving and Christmas are never celebrated under his roof. He bans religion and mandates books, while preaching awareness, confidence and discipline. Are Ta-Nehisi and his hard-headed sibling listening?
Ta-Nehisi and his brother, Big Bill, are knee-deep in drama. Big Bill never backs down from a fight or successfully avoids curvaceous girls and danger. Ta-Nehisi, tall for his age, has no cool swagger, no game, no good fight in him and no rap for the honeys. Like most teen-age boys, he is often misunderstood. He's a gifted student with lots of potential, but admits sleepwalking through life.
Most boys seek their father's love and approval; but Paul, a disciplinarian who remembers wars, riots, assassinations, knows only one way to express love. Sparingly.
Many positive influences anchor Ta-Nehisi to success, including a newly acquired passion for drumming and an education at Howard University.
A strong father and a persistent mother guide their sons down the tumultuous path to manhood and toward a brighter future. Their struggle, solo and as a family, is not only beautiful, it's also poetic. Poetic because Ta-Nehisi eloquently shares a heart-warming story of survival. Enjoy a well spun, but true tale of boys, bumps and battles.
A BOOK ABOUT FATHERHOOD
The Beautiful Struggle: A Father, Two Sons, and an Unlikely Road to Manhood
Author: Ta-Nehisi Coates
Publisher: Spiegel & Grau
Publication Date: May 2008
Listen to an excerpt from the The Beautiful Struggle: A Father, Two Sons, And An Unlikely Road to Manhood
MORE BOOKS FOR FATHERS
Off The Deep End
Author: W. Hodding Carter
Publisher: Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill
Publication Date: June 2008
Devil May Care: The New James Bond Novel
Author: Sebastian Faulks
Publisher: Doubleday Publishing
Publication Date: May 2008
Fatherhood by George: Hard-Won Advice on Being A Dad
Author: George Foreman
Publisher: Thomas Nelson
Publication Date: April 2008
"The Week's Most Talked About Book" is a weekly book review and literary criticism column that publishes every Friday. Selected titles are based on popularity, public opinion, research and observation. Questions, comments and suggestions should be sent to book lover and columnist Karla Mass at firstname.lastname@example.org. She is a content producer for McClatchy Interactive.