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A NEW YORK TIMES EDITORS' PICK • A TODAY SUMMER READING LIST PICK  • AN ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY BEST DEBUT OF SUMMER PICK  • A PEOPLE BEST BOOK OF SUMMER PICK A poetic and raw coming-of-age memoir about Blackness, masculinity, and addiction “Punch Me Up to the Gods obliterates what we thought were the limitations of not just the American memoir, but the possibilities A NEW YORK TIMES EDITORS' PICK • A TODAY SUMMER READING LIST PICK  • AN ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY BEST DEBUT OF SUMMER PICK  • A PEOPLE BEST BOOK OF SUMMER PICK A poetic and raw coming-of-age memoir about Blackness, masculinity, and addiction “Punch Me Up to the Gods obliterates what we thought were the limitations of not just the American memoir, but the possibilities of the American paragraph. I’m not sure a book has ever had me sobbing, punching the air, dying of laughter, and needing to write as much as Brian Broome’s staggering debut. This sh*t is special.” —Kiese Laymon, New York Times bestselling author of Heavy “Punch Me Up to the Gods is some of the finest writing I have ever encountered and one of the most electrifying, powerful, simply spectacular memoirs I—or you—have ever read. And you will read it; you must read it. It contains everything we all crave so deeply: truth, soul, brilliance, grace. It is a masterpiece of a memoir and Brian Broome should win the Pulitzer Prize for writing it. I am in absolute awe and you will be, too.” —Augusten Burroughs, New York Times bestselling author of Running with Scissors Punch Me Up to the Gods introduces a powerful new talent in Brian Broome, whose early years growing up in Ohio as a dark-skinned Black boy harboring crushes on other boys propel forward this gorgeous, aching, and unforgettable debut. Brian’s recounting of his experiences—in all their cringe-worthy, hilarious, and heartbreaking glory—reveal a perpetual outsider awkwardly squirming to find his way in. Indiscriminate sex and escalating drug use help to soothe his hurt, young psyche, usually to uproarious and devastating effect. A no-nonsense mother and broken father play crucial roles in our misfit’s origin story. But it is Brian’s voice in the retelling that shows the true depth of vulnerability for young Black boys that is often quietly near to bursting at the seams.   Cleverly framed around Gwendolyn Brooks’s poem “We Real Cool,” the iconic and loving ode to Black boyhood, Punch Me Up to the Gods is at once playful, poignant, and wholly original. Broome’s writing brims with swagger and sensitivity, bringing an exquisite and fresh voice to ongoing cultural conversations about Blackness in America.


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A NEW YORK TIMES EDITORS' PICK • A TODAY SUMMER READING LIST PICK  • AN ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY BEST DEBUT OF SUMMER PICK  • A PEOPLE BEST BOOK OF SUMMER PICK A poetic and raw coming-of-age memoir about Blackness, masculinity, and addiction “Punch Me Up to the Gods obliterates what we thought were the limitations of not just the American memoir, but the possibilities A NEW YORK TIMES EDITORS' PICK • A TODAY SUMMER READING LIST PICK  • AN ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY BEST DEBUT OF SUMMER PICK  • A PEOPLE BEST BOOK OF SUMMER PICK A poetic and raw coming-of-age memoir about Blackness, masculinity, and addiction “Punch Me Up to the Gods obliterates what we thought were the limitations of not just the American memoir, but the possibilities of the American paragraph. I’m not sure a book has ever had me sobbing, punching the air, dying of laughter, and needing to write as much as Brian Broome’s staggering debut. This sh*t is special.” —Kiese Laymon, New York Times bestselling author of Heavy “Punch Me Up to the Gods is some of the finest writing I have ever encountered and one of the most electrifying, powerful, simply spectacular memoirs I—or you—have ever read. And you will read it; you must read it. It contains everything we all crave so deeply: truth, soul, brilliance, grace. It is a masterpiece of a memoir and Brian Broome should win the Pulitzer Prize for writing it. I am in absolute awe and you will be, too.” —Augusten Burroughs, New York Times bestselling author of Running with Scissors Punch Me Up to the Gods introduces a powerful new talent in Brian Broome, whose early years growing up in Ohio as a dark-skinned Black boy harboring crushes on other boys propel forward this gorgeous, aching, and unforgettable debut. Brian’s recounting of his experiences—in all their cringe-worthy, hilarious, and heartbreaking glory—reveal a perpetual outsider awkwardly squirming to find his way in. Indiscriminate sex and escalating drug use help to soothe his hurt, young psyche, usually to uproarious and devastating effect. A no-nonsense mother and broken father play crucial roles in our misfit’s origin story. But it is Brian’s voice in the retelling that shows the true depth of vulnerability for young Black boys that is often quietly near to bursting at the seams.   Cleverly framed around Gwendolyn Brooks’s poem “We Real Cool,” the iconic and loving ode to Black boyhood, Punch Me Up to the Gods is at once playful, poignant, and wholly original. Broome’s writing brims with swagger and sensitivity, bringing an exquisite and fresh voice to ongoing cultural conversations about Blackness in America.

30 review for Punch Me Up to the Gods: A Memoir

  1. 5 out of 5

    Nenia ✨ I yeet my books back and forth ✨ Campbell

    Instagram || Twitter || Facebook || Amazon || Pinterest Gosh, this was beautifully written. Sometimes you read books that make you second-guess your own abilities as a writer because of the way that person can use a simple word or phrase to paint such a quietly evocative picture of a thought or idea. I kept having tons of moments like that while reading PUNCH ME UP TO THE GODS, which is a memoir that discusses what it is like to be gay as a Black man and how that gets framed by societal const Instagram || Twitter || Facebook || Amazon || Pinterest Gosh, this was beautifully written. Sometimes you read books that make you second-guess your own abilities as a writer because of the way that person can use a simple word or phrase to paint such a quietly evocative picture of a thought or idea. I kept having tons of moments like that while reading PUNCH ME UP TO THE GODS, which is a memoir that discusses what it is like to be gay as a Black man and how that gets framed by societal constructs of masculinity and sexuality. The author does this by doing something I've never actually seen anyone do before: he keeps pivoting back to this moment of watching a father and son at a bus stop, juxtaposing moments of their interactions against memories of adolescence and adulthood. The usual warnings for memoirs of this type apply, so I won't get into those. I will say that Broome handled his subjects well and it seemed like he really made a concentrated effort to portray himself as forthrightly and honestly as possible, even at moments that weren't flattering to himself. I respected him a lot for that. This isn't really one of those inspiring, feel-good memoirs; instead it seems to serve as a serious recollection of some key moments that shaped his identity, for better or for worse. It ends on a bittersweet note. I think my favorite is the chapter written from the POV of his mother. Anyone who enjoyed Saeed Jones's memoir, HOW WE FIGHT FOR OUR LIVES, should definitely check out this work as I think they set out to accomplish very similar goals (in addition to the telling of their own stories). I think Jones's memoir felt a bit more like a news article in a casual periodical (like BuzzFeed) whereas this one felt more experimental and literary, but both are compellingly told and I liked them both for different reasons. It is definitely a book that makes you think and I won't be surprised to see it on the Goodreads Choice Awards list for Best Memoirs of 2021. Thanks to the publisher for sending me a copy in exchange for an honest review! 4 stars

  2. 4 out of 5

    Raymond

    Punch Me Up to the Gods is a powerful memoir written by Brian Broome a Black gay man who grew up in Ohio and moved to Pittsburgh, PA. Broome's story is told in an interesting way, he prefaces each chapter with vignettes titled "The Initiation of Tuan" which covers Broome's observations of a Black father and his young son Tuan on a city bus. Broome observes how the father interacts with Tuan, telling the young boy to be a man and to not cry. These observations lead into Broome's own story which f Punch Me Up to the Gods is a powerful memoir written by Brian Broome a Black gay man who grew up in Ohio and moved to Pittsburgh, PA. Broome's story is told in an interesting way, he prefaces each chapter with vignettes titled "The Initiation of Tuan" which covers Broome's observations of a Black father and his young son Tuan on a city bus. Broome observes how the father interacts with Tuan, telling the young boy to be a man and to not cry. These observations lead into Broome's own story which focuses alot on colorism, Black masculinity, sexuality, race and internalized racism, drug addiction, etc. Tuan and his father remind Broome of his troubled relationship with his own father who would beat him viciously because Broome was not masculine enough. Brian's mom is another important character in this book; in fact there is one chapter where Brian writes in his mother's voice to tell her own traumatic story.  This book is definitely brutal and raw, at times it reminded me of Kiese Laymon's Heavy and Sapphire's Precious. Broome's writing is beautiful. I love how he describes people and places. It was after I finished the book that I found out that Broome is a poet which explains why his writing was so good. He closes the book with a powerful letter to Tuan. At the end of the book I felt that he was not just writing to Tuan but he was also writing to me and every other Black man who has been told to bury their emotions, be tough, don't show them your weakness, etc. Hopefully the wisdom of this book can help others recovers from toxic Black masculinity and allow for Black men to be more open about themselves, their pasts, and their feelings.  Thanks to NetGalley, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, and Brian Broome for a free ARC copy in exchange for an honest review. This book will be released on May 18, 2021.

  3. 5 out of 5

    *TUDOR^QUEEN*

    Four Stars An email from the publisher put this book on my radar, since my reading preference is biographies. Another thing that drew me to the book is the invitation to learn about someone whose life experiences are very different from mine. Brian writes of growing up in Ohio and suffering on several fronts. It might be easier to use a specific example from the book to illustrate just how heart wrenching it was. The only time his fellow students made him feel a sense of inclusion was when they n Four Stars An email from the publisher put this book on my radar, since my reading preference is biographies. Another thing that drew me to the book is the invitation to learn about someone whose life experiences are very different from mine. Brian writes of growing up in Ohio and suffering on several fronts. It might be easier to use a specific example from the book to illustrate just how heart wrenching it was. The only time his fellow students made him feel a sense of inclusion was when they noticed his talent for dancing and suggested he go to a dance club with them. It required a car ride and a little spending money, which was a large hurdle to climb in itself. His mother was working anyway, and she most likely wouldn't approve of him going there. But, Brian was so marginalized at school that he couldn't let this one gleaming opportunity pass him by to finally be accepted. So he managed a ride and the spending money, and found himself dancing away to acclaim at the club. However, when the place was closing down, it was a huge wake up call when his fellow students got picked up by their parents. Not one parent would allow Brian to get in their car for a ride home. There was a lot of silence, ignoring, and furtive glances as they pulled away. The club was now closed and it was very cold outside. Brian was so devastated by the total rejection that he sobbed uncontrollably as he constantly pulled his coat around him for warmth. Luckily a club worker was still around and he allowed Brian to use the phone. He had no choice but to call his mother to pick him up in the wee hours of the morning. She pulled up to the club and he could see she was wearing her pajamas, quiet in her rage as they drove home. In addition to the racism he experienced being black, he was also gay. His father especially picked up on this and it couldn't be allowed. Thus the title of this book, the father in his rage and hate would threaten to punch Brian back up to the Gods. His father lost his job at the local mill, and since he had only gone to grammar school felt like he wasn't trained for doing anything else. Brian's mother got a job and eventually the marriage busted up and the father lived like a hobo in an abandoned shack not far away. He would come by the house when Mom was at work to take food out of the refrigerator and trash her to the kids. A theme was employed intermittently throughout the book of describing a long bus ride in which Brian is sitting near a black father wth his cute little boy Tuan. Brian calls these chapters "The Initiation of Tuan". When Tuan falls and hurts himself he is admonished firmly by his father to stop crying. When he falls asleep on the bus with his legs crossed, his father pulls them apart in a more manly pose. Brian uses the last chapter to write a symbolic letter to Tuan in a caring fashion with hope that he will survive the challenges of racism and possibly his sexual preferences- and his ability to just be himself. Brian is a talented writer. This drew you in emotionally. He made you understand his life experience enduring racism, ostracism for being gay- and even more so for being a black gay man. He recounted a really depressing home dynamic, while stressing the importance of women in his life. He walked you through his sexual experiences with both men and women, the gay club scene, and drug addiction. Around the last fifteen minutes of reading the book Brian pulled no punches about what he thought about Ohio (where he grew up as a child) and America as a whole, and possibly anywhere else in the world he might travel, in regards to racism. It was clever of him to leave this for the very last gasp of the book, because it might be off-putting to someone reading it at the start of the book who wasn't receptive. Thank you to the publisher Houghton Mifflin Harcourt who provided an advance reader copy via NetGalley.

  4. 4 out of 5

    chantel nouseforaname

    Yooo the transparencyyyy! It takes guts to share this story and stand in it with your whole chest and Brian Broome did that!!! "I have no method to persuade you that the act of shoving your most tender feelings way down deep or trying somehow to numb them will only result in someone else having to pick up your pieces later." - 98% in 'Punch Me Up to the Gods' by Brian Broome ...But you did tho! Brian Broome's written pieces let off several bells and I have so much gratitude for the effort that Yooo the transparencyyyy! It takes guts to share this story and stand in it with your whole chest and Brian Broome did that!!! "I have no method to persuade you that the act of shoving your most tender feelings way down deep or trying somehow to numb them will only result in someone else having to pick up your pieces later." - 98% in 'Punch Me Up to the Gods' by Brian Broome ...But you did tho! Brian Broome's written pieces let off several bells and I have so much gratitude for the effort that I'm sure it took to tell this story. That he allowed us to hold space for him, and took it upon himself to hold space for others, the future and the up and comers. The gay black boys who feel like there is no place for them. It's hard to read this story and not be changed, to not have your eyes opened to the complexities of growing up in households where manhood is transferred through brutality. It's so important to allow the space for kids to be who they are. The savagery in households that seek to stifle the beauty of their children’s diversity is breathtaking and sad, it's even sadder when committed as an act of protection from white supremacy. This violence can be life-snatching for the kids who can't hold-on long enough to escape these places of violence and diminishment. Not to mention, it's difficult to not drown in spaces of minimal love and attention in the home and outright hate and discrimination in the classroom, on the campus, at work, etc. It's preposterous to side-eye unhealthy coping mechanisms, when you ain't seen health and wealth promoting activities around you. That's why when health and wealth gets made, you give folks their flowers, especially when they give back like this to their community. This book was incredibly written. It was so vivid. Even the parts I wanted to be less vivid *cough* being chased down naked at a dick-swinging sex party *cough** were super vivid. My heart broke and then broke again and again and again and was restored as he found his way to the chosen home of James Baldwin. This is a highly recommended read. More thoughts on it here.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Paris (parisperusing)

    Brian Broome's Punch Me Up to the Gods is no gay anthem, it is a ballad to which every brokenhearted Black queer boy knows the word. It begins as all indelible sad songs do, with a confession to shame: "Any Black boy who did not signify how manly he was at all times deserved to be punched back up to God to be remade, reshaped." Black boys love sad songs too, we sing them all the time: in the safe dimension of our dreams, where we assume God is not listening. “Homosexuality, as it so often does, a Brian Broome's Punch Me Up to the Gods is no gay anthem, it is a ballad to which every brokenhearted Black queer boy knows the word. It begins as all indelible sad songs do, with a confession to shame: "Any Black boy who did not signify how manly he was at all times deserved to be punched back up to God to be remade, reshaped." Black boys love sad songs too, we sing them all the time: in the safe dimension of our dreams, where we assume God is not listening. “Homosexuality, as it so often does, attacked me in my bed in the middle of the night," Broome writes of his adolescent paramour Alex, whose "chocolate brown eyes and coal black hair" open a portal into a "television world" of whiteness and love. Us Black boys, we know this yearning. On rare nights, I am in the second grade again. I am sitting behind pale-skinned Charlie, whose upper lip has already sprouted fuzz. In this reverie, I am swimming my fingers through the black waves of his hair. Like Broome, I have waded the sweet waters of dreams and unrequited love. But dreams are just dreams. By turns a gut-punch and a poem, Punch Me Up to the Gods is a tragic and disarming depiction of the inescapable headlock of self-hatred, colorism, and Black shame, and a painful but inspiring parable I hope will reach the hands of Black queer boys everywhere. Like Brandon Taylor, Saeed Jones, and Danez Smith, Brian Broome will always have a friend in me.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Traci at The Stacks

    This memoir is really heavy. Broome is examining his childhood and the ways he was abused because he was Black and gay. It starts off incredibly strong but gets repetitive by the end. The structure is more like memoir in essays vs traditional memoir. Strong writing but not enough range to carry a full 250 pages.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Mallory

    This memoir was painful to read at times (most of the times if I am going to be completely honest), but it was beautiful. The subject was not particularly full of beauty but the voice that told the story is beautiful. I loved the unique structure to this memoir. It is a serious of essays broken up with observations Brian made of a young boy and his father on the bus which caused him to reflect on his own upbringing. Brian is brutally honest and this memoir tells the story of how he failed to con This memoir was painful to read at times (most of the times if I am going to be completely honest), but it was beautiful. The subject was not particularly full of beauty but the voice that told the story is beautiful. I loved the unique structure to this memoir. It is a serious of essays broken up with observations Brian made of a young boy and his father on the bus which caused him to reflect on his own upbringing. Brian is brutally honest and this memoir tells the story of how he failed to conform to the training on how to best be a Black man, and how he painfully came to accept who he was as a Black, gay, man. The impacts of racism on his life were hard to read, but the good kind that helps the reader accept what is real. And only with acceptance can we work to change. This was a limited scope of Brian’s life and I would certainly be interested in reading more. Brian Broome is a name I will be looking out for in the literary world.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Andrea

    Remember Brian Broome’s name: he is going to be a major literary force. This debut memoir will break your heart, make you laugh and cry, and you’ll be rooting for Brian on every page. For readers of Saeed Jones’s excellent memoir and Augusten Burroughs.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Vnunez-Ms_luv2read

    This book had me going through a variety of emotions. Anger, sadness, laughter, etc. very straight with no chaser account of the author’s journey of being gay and Black in a time that this was not accepted, especially in the Black family. I also enjoyed the chapters about atuan and how he tied them into his history. Mr. Brian, I thank you for allowing me the chance to live your story via your words. Blessings unto you in this thing we call Life. Thanks to Netgalley, the author and the publisher This book had me going through a variety of emotions. Anger, sadness, laughter, etc. very straight with no chaser account of the author’s journey of being gay and Black in a time that this was not accepted, especially in the Black family. I also enjoyed the chapters about atuan and how he tied them into his history. Mr. Brian, I thank you for allowing me the chance to live your story via your words. Blessings unto you in this thing we call Life. Thanks to Netgalley, the author and the publisher for the arc of this book in return for my honest review. Receiving the book in this manner had no bearing on this review.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Trisha

    I knew very little about this story before starting. I liked the cover, the title and found the topic interesting so I'd just jumped right in. I liked the short story style - the stories lead in to each other just slightly but the story flowed really well as the MC aged and went through a lot of self discovery. Some stories were really hard to read, broke my heart but there were also some that made me smile. The few chapters that were from a different POV were my least favorite as I really enjoy I knew very little about this story before starting. I liked the cover, the title and found the topic interesting so I'd just jumped right in. I liked the short story style - the stories lead in to each other just slightly but the story flowed really well as the MC aged and went through a lot of self discovery. Some stories were really hard to read, broke my heart but there were also some that made me smile. The few chapters that were from a different POV were my least favorite as I really enjoyed the main storyteller and wanted to know more about his journey. I really appreciated this one and am so glad I gave it a try! A huge thank you to the author and publisher for providing an e-ARC via Netgalley. This does not affect my opinion regarding the book.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Brett Benner

    There have been a number of engaging memoirs centered on Black Queer men, among them Sayeed Jones, Darnell Moore, and George M Johnson, but this one is particularly special. Brian Broome writes with such raw unflinching honesty and simply gorgeous storytelling, it effectively raised an already rather high bar. I started this on audio and was immediately drawn into the timbre of his voice, but what really captivated me was the way he recounted each particular memory. Starting in McKeesport Pennsy There have been a number of engaging memoirs centered on Black Queer men, among them Sayeed Jones, Darnell Moore, and George M Johnson, but this one is particularly special. Brian Broome writes with such raw unflinching honesty and simply gorgeous storytelling, it effectively raised an already rather high bar. I started this on audio and was immediately drawn into the timbre of his voice, but what really captivated me was the way he recounted each particular memory. Starting in McKeesport Pennsylvania Broome boards a bus with a father and his young son who he quickly learns is named Antuan, or Tuan. This child becomes the tentpole he returns to as, “ I’m drawn back to my boyhood lessons in disaffectedness, nonchalance, and hollow strength. It was a never ending performance that I could not keep up to save my life. And when I failed consistently, there was never any shortage of people around to punish me for it.” Broome writes about his own boyhood growing up in Ohio facing a dual reality of being both black and gay in America, and his yearning to escape the closing walls constructed by his sexuality and the blossoming awareness of white supremacy and vile racism. “Black boys don’t have a long boyhood. It ends where white fear begins, brought on by deepening voices, broadening backs, and coarsening hair in new places beneath our clothing”. ⠀ His exit leads him to Pittsburgh where he stumbles, and fumbles with his queerness in a series of stories I found exceptionally stand out including one set in a seedy sex club that takes a surprising, and heartbreaking turn, and another with him dating a European man who he has led to believe he’s a talented basketball player. ⠀ And although I obviously am not the person to speak to his experiences as a black man aside from once again praising his writing, his naked vulnerability journeying through his queerness I found highly and immediately relatable. (Sometimes making me cringe in recognition I might add). Yet it’s this vulnerability coupled with a braveness to present himself, warts and all that truly makes the book shine and one of my favorites I’ve read this year. ⠀

  12. 5 out of 5

    Sara

    Thanks Goodreads and Houghton Mifflin Harcourt for the advance copy of this book. The book is set on a bus; the author is coming from where he lived as a child, at his father's deathbed, to Europe, to visit where James Baldwin lived, to find himself, leaving American soil for the first time. Most of the memoir is reflected against his father. One of my favorite things about books are the quote(s) an author chooses to put at the beginning. I view them as the way the author views his/her own book, a Thanks Goodreads and Houghton Mifflin Harcourt for the advance copy of this book. The book is set on a bus; the author is coming from where he lived as a child, at his father's deathbed, to Europe, to visit where James Baldwin lived, to find himself, leaving American soil for the first time. Most of the memoir is reflected against his father. One of my favorite things about books are the quote(s) an author chooses to put at the beginning. I view them as the way the author views his/her own book, a summary of the entire work. The quotes are also a way for an author to pay homage to someone they look up to, or whose work has impressed them greatly. The dedication is another snapshot into who the author is, what their life is like. The dedication can be boring and predictable, but sometimes it can speak to a reader. Like the dedication in this memoir: "To Brother and Sister Outsiders everywhere". As a champion of the underdog, the helpless, the lost, the weirdos, I already felt a kinship with the author. As is my personal tradition, some quotes from Mr. Broome's memoir: Along the bus ride. "I look past my reflection and take in the bleak sight of Duquesne. It's a poster child for what America does with a town after it's done with it. The sidewalks are virtually empty and the storefronts are boarded up. The town's deadness is made more profound by the knowledge of how alive it used to be. The few people outside walk the deserted and dilapidated thoroughfares in a rudderless, yet agitated way that suggests trouble is about to pop off any minute. This is the way my father walked around our house after losing his job. He seemed stuck. He had no skills and barely a sixth-grade education. He had only ever worked backbreaking jobs and he believed to his core that this was the only kind of work that a real man should do: hard physical labor." "So I learned to lie. Because the only thing I felt when I looked at my family, this house, was shame. And I hated my father. I hated his infectious poverty. I hated his daily visit to pathetically pilfer food and attempt to poison our minds." Beautifully written. Mr. Broome has given readers a glimpse into not only what it's like to be a Black man in the U.S. today, but to be a gay Black man at that. In our society, birthed into automatic disadvantage and having to work much harder than most just to stay in place. African Americans have a beautiful culture, but no one's going to argue that being black makes life easier. I love the way this book was framed, beginning and ending (for the most part) with a letter to a random black male child riding the bus with his father, sitting across from the author. Things the author thinks the child should be aware of, a warning letter of sorts. Things the author has learned the hard way. Things that aren't fair, that are cruel, that are terribly sad. Learned about straight from his father, clear as day and brutal, who teaches the reader as well. "Shake it off. Be a man. Be more than a man. Be a Black man." Given that it is not the responsibility of an individual belonging to a minority population to educate a white person on what it is like to live their lives, this book is a great resource for insight. It was so interesting that it was an easy and fast read. In addition to being an important work in terms of education, the author also introduces the readers to other black writers that have had an influence on his life and on so many others. Writers whom anyone who wants to learn about "systemic racism" (It's most definitely a real thing. The quotations are due to the overuse of the phrase to the point of becoming meaningless, words spat out as a catch phrase) should look into. James Baldwin, who I'd never heard of. Maya Angelou, Amiri Baraka, Toni Morrison, Yona Harvey, who wrote the introduction. Gwendolyn Harvey. The quote, interestingly, comes at the end of the memoir. James Baldwin, from The Fire Next Time, "The details and symbols of your life have been deliberately constructed to make you believe what white people say about you. Please try to remember that what they believe, as well as what they do and cause you to endure, does not testify to your inferiority but to their inhumanity and fear." Hence the need for open minds and education. Wonderful read, natural prose, highly recommended.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Doreen

    5/17/2021 Brutal, frank and beautiful. Full review tk at TheFrumiousConsortium.net. 5/18/2021 Structured around Gwendolyn Brooks' seminal poem We Real Cool and a bus ride where Brian Broome observed a young Black boy named Tuan interacting with his father, this autobiography in essays is a profound, powerful examination of the life of a gay black man growing up in late 20th century America. Born and raised in 1970s northeastern Ohio, Brian knew he was different from other boys at an early age, and 5/17/2021 Brutal, frank and beautiful. Full review tk at TheFrumiousConsortium.net. 5/18/2021 Structured around Gwendolyn Brooks' seminal poem We Real Cool and a bus ride where Brian Broome observed a young Black boy named Tuan interacting with his father, this autobiography in essays is a profound, powerful examination of the life of a gay black man growing up in late 20th century America. Born and raised in 1970s northeastern Ohio, Brian knew he was different from other boys at an early age, and not in a way that his parents or society approved of. His father, especially, thought that constantly, viciously beating him would instill the desired manliness that he seemed to lack. As soon as Brian was able, he left small town life for the lure of a big city, where he thought he might finally find his people and a life of liberation and love. Things don't go as planned, and the shy young man discovers drink and drugs before finally being able to discover himself. Standard memoir stuff, but Mr Broome pulls even fewer metaphorical punches than his father did in actuality, tho the younger man directs his ruthlessness in a more deserved direction, interrogating the issues of race, sexuality and masculinity that made him the person he is today. Punch Me Up To The Gods is an unflinchingly honest examination of all the terrible things that shaped him, whether done to or by him, as well as a stunningly generous expression of love and compassion for all the hurting, hurtful people just struggling to survive in a world that too often encourages fear of and cruelty to the "other". The memoir is beautifully shaped, using Ms Brooks' poem as a narrative scaffolding while also providing another throughline in the form of Mr Broome's meditations on Tuan's life as they both journey on the bus. The writing is astounding throughout this brilliantly crafted, searingly intelligent critique of a culture that could have very easily destroyed Mr Broome. That he could come through decades of pain to write this masterpiece of empathy and honesty is a testament both to his own character and will, and to the threads of kindness and hope that we need to keep displaying in our everyday lives. Books like this encourage us all to work to be less racist, to be less colorist, to not judge people based on gender or sexuality. It's an important, vital, absorbing read. I did not, however, care for Yona Harvey's introduction. On the plus side, it didn't spoil Mr Broome's narrative. On the minus, it talked mostly about James Baldwin (to which, awesome but irrelevant -- Mr Broome discusses Mr Baldwin in the text and it doesn't need embroidering upon) and also about Ms Harvey's own attitude to the book, which quite frankly set my teeth on edge. Maybe it's because I've never had patience for those kids who revel in shaming and narcing, the way that entire "you're gonna get in trouble" singsong passage she includes so vividly evokes. I'd honestly recommend skipping the introduction entirely so you can better enjoy this excellent memoir without the intrusive shadow of judgey assholes looming larger than they need to. Punch Me Up To The Gods: A Memoir by Brian Broome was published today May 18 2021 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt and is available from all good booksellers, including Bookshop!.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Ryan

    PUNCH ME UP TO THE GODS is a new memoir by Brian Broome, where he explores the intersection of race and sexuality growing up in western Ohio. Brian is black and gay which defined his relationships early in his life. The book is framed around the poem, We Real Cool by Gwendolyn Brooks, with each line introducing a different section. Every other chapter is “The Intiatian of Twan” where the author describes an experience on a bus watching the interactions of a young boy and his father. These explor PUNCH ME UP TO THE GODS is a new memoir by Brian Broome, where he explores the intersection of race and sexuality growing up in western Ohio. Brian is black and gay which defined his relationships early in his life. The book is framed around the poem, We Real Cool by Gwendolyn Brooks, with each line introducing a different section. Every other chapter is “The Intiatian of Twan” where the author describes an experience on a bus watching the interactions of a young boy and his father. These explorations of black masculinity frame personal statements about domestic violence, sex, identity, depression, and addiction. Unlike many memoirs I read, this one gets better as it goes along and the ending is so strong I finished the second half in one sitting. The writing is excellent. Broome digs deep into the details his memories to pull out universal themes and ideas with exquisite descriptions and beautiful sentences. The audiobook is read by the author and while the performance was good, the sound and editing was off. I could tell that there were breaks in recording because the sound quality or tone changed. I loved this book and highly recommend everyone read it.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Sosha

    If you read one memoir, hell, if you read one book this year, it should be “Punch Me Up the the Gods” by Brian Broome. This book - the spot-on language, the breathtaking structure and the clever dark humor is a force of nature. Generally, when I like a book as much as I liked this one, I greedily devour it. However, I spaced this one out, took my time with it because I knew I didn’t want it to end.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Uchenna (favourite_igbo_boy)

    "We are here, we are queer, get used to it -Brian Broome. Punch Me Up to the Gods is a poetic coming-of-age memoir, about the traumas been faced, growing up Black and gay in Ohio in the late 1970s and early '80s. Navigating family and social expectations, while in search of himself. With important topics/ issues ranging from Blackness, masculinity (toxic), family, addiction, colourism, racism (including internalized), sexuality, patriarchy, prejudice, vulnerability, and more. In this Memoir, Broom "We are here, we are queer, get used to it -Brian Broome. Punch Me Up to the Gods is a poetic coming-of-age memoir, about the traumas been faced, growing up Black and gay in Ohio in the late 1970s and early '80s. Navigating family and social expectations, while in search of himself. With important topics/ issues ranging from Blackness, masculinity (toxic), family, addiction, colourism, racism (including internalized), sexuality, patriarchy, prejudice, vulnerability, and more. In this Memoir, Broome takes us from his childhood to high school life, the sordid gay bar years, to life as a young drug addict, and finally to healing. To be honest, I primarily decided to listen to this audiobook because it was a gay Memoir. I didn't know what to expect in this book, and I'm glad I did despite it isn't all joyous. This book was relatable at some point and books like this need to exist for the younger generation. I loved how this read was raw, not sugar-coated, a display of vulnerability, and most importantly for me, how he conquered. Recommended for pride month. Thanks to @librofm for my ALC of this book.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Veronica Foster

    In Punch My Up to the Gods, Brian Broome explores the pressures that Black men face to perform a certain kind of masculinity—one that he found particularly damaging as a Black, gay boy growing up in rural Ohio. In a series of stories organized by theme around Gwendolyn Brooks' poem "We Real Cool," Broome reflects on the way these requirements to "be a man" damaged his relationship with his family, complicated his efforts to find queer community, and resulted in longterm struggles with anxiety an In Punch My Up to the Gods, Brian Broome explores the pressures that Black men face to perform a certain kind of masculinity—one that he found particularly damaging as a Black, gay boy growing up in rural Ohio. In a series of stories organized by theme around Gwendolyn Brooks' poem "We Real Cool," Broome reflects on the way these requirements to "be a man" damaged his relationship with his family, complicated his efforts to find queer community, and resulted in longterm struggles with anxiety and addiction. I found Broome's efforts to untangle his challenging memories of his mother and father especially poignant and profound; throughout the book, he traces how their fear of the real and ever-present danger he would face as a Black man growing up in America led them to police his gender identity and sexuality in harsh and sometimes violent ways. Broome's thoughtful exploration of the fraught relationship between love and control is an important reminder of the way that American racism requires Black parents to make impossible decisions to try to keep their children safe. While I appreciated some of the fruitful juxtapositions offered by Broome's thematic narrative structure, without clear forward momentum the chapters sometimes fell into a bleak pattern of hope, humiliation, then defeat. Punch Me Up to the Gods reads a little like spying on confessional, and though it's evident by the end of the memoir that Broome finds in the sum of his experiences a clearer understanding of both himself and America, I needed a stronger connective thread to the realizations that define the final chapter. Nevertheless, Broome's story is an important one. I'm grateful that he shared it.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Donna

    Brian Broome's writing is emotional, breathtaking and full of self-awareness. This coming of age memoir will send your emotions all over the place. It's funny, innocent, sad, angry and at times very upsetting. Brian holds nothing back in his new book Punch Me Up To The Gods, he's frank and honest in his telling of his life growing up. He's a confused, young gay, black boy growing up in Ohio with the pressures to be a tough enough man from his dad and friends, from beatings, to sexual encounters t Brian Broome's writing is emotional, breathtaking and full of self-awareness. This coming of age memoir will send your emotions all over the place. It's funny, innocent, sad, angry and at times very upsetting. Brian holds nothing back in his new book Punch Me Up To The Gods, he's frank and honest in his telling of his life growing up. He's a confused, young gay, black boy growing up in Ohio with the pressures to be a tough enough man from his dad and friends, from beatings, to sexual encounters to just trying to grow up, he struggles. The book flashes back and forth between his childhood, to an encounter with a black father and son on the bus, and the present day, all exceptionally woven together to tell his story. A totally gripping, page-turner and will be one of the best memoirs of the year. Write Brian Broome's name down, read his memoir, I highly recommend it. Thank you to BookishFirst, HMH publishing and especially Brian for the opportunity to read the advanced-copy of this book.

  19. 4 out of 5

    R.J. Sorrento

    A moving and raw memoir about being gay and Black in America. Brian Broome shares a collection of essays divided into chapters based on a poem by Gwendolyn Brooks. Some of the essays are brutally honest and I’ve seen some feedback that the memoir lacks hope. But I find it difficult to critique someone’s life and experiences. My feedback is based on the writing itself and I appreciated the clever structuring and style. Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for a digital ARC.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Kait Griffin

    All the feels. Whew.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Les

    (4.5 stars): In my emerging tradition, I listened to this book because it was read (performed really) by the author. Many thoughts still rolling through my synapses and it's just a brutal experience to listen to or read, though I'm honored to bear witness. Definitely an education. It's always interesting to me how children that are mistreated, abused, or completely neglected by their parents choose to forgive or say they forgive them because death is imminent, when they were such ogres (the pare (4.5 stars): In my emerging tradition, I listened to this book because it was read (performed really) by the author. Many thoughts still rolling through my synapses and it's just a brutal experience to listen to or read, though I'm honored to bear witness. Definitely an education. It's always interesting to me how children that are mistreated, abused, or completely neglected by their parents choose to forgive or say they forgive them because death is imminent, when they were such ogres (the parents) in life. Acceptance yes, but forgiveness that's not even requested or welcomed? I guess; people have to make decisions they can live with. And wow did this man...on SO many levels, even when he couldn't live with them or through them. Yet, here he is. I'll also add that's it's been years since a final chapter (Tabula Rasa) came roaring through so masterfully with such precision, grace, truth, grit and raw authenticity that I had to listen to it twice (I would have just highlighted it all had I been reading). It was explosive and grounding at the same time. I was wondering would there be any payoff for all the relentless terror that I was reading/listening to up to that point. Short answer: Much.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Karen D

    Wow, I just loved this memoir. This tells of identity, as a Black man, and as a gay man, and at a very basic level, as a man, and what that means for his attempts to find himself and handle everyone's expectations of who and what he *should* be. It gets into racism, homophobia, toxic masculinity, family, and addiction in a way that's completely refreshing. It's an example of just truly great writing. That intangible, you-know-it-when-you-read-it quality of writing that sucks you in immediately a Wow, I just loved this memoir. This tells of identity, as a Black man, and as a gay man, and at a very basic level, as a man, and what that means for his attempts to find himself and handle everyone's expectations of who and what he *should* be. It gets into racism, homophobia, toxic masculinity, family, and addiction in a way that's completely refreshing. It's an example of just truly great writing. That intangible, you-know-it-when-you-read-it quality of writing that sucks you in immediately and doesn't let you come up for air until you're through. This covers his experiences as a young child, a young man in college, and an adult as well as his observations of a young boy on a city bus, and recognizing much of himself. It moves effortlessly between time periods, and even includes one segment from the perspective of his mother.  He very clearly is not trying to idealize himself, it comes off as brutally honest, even when it's not flattering. I'm so glad I read this, and would definitely recommend! Thanks to #bookishfirst and #houhgtonmifflinharcourt for an early copy of this!

  23. 5 out of 5

    Jayden

    *ARC provided by NetGalley and the publisher in exchange for an honest review* 3.5 stars. This book is a wonderful deconstruction of masculinity and trauma, particularly that faced by Black men and boys. Broome’s discusses his own upbringing, which was heavily impacted by his father’s opinion of what it means to be a man and how he, being a feminine gay man, is constantly fed the message that he is not enough and that something is wrong with him. Broome seems to assert that these ideas formed at *ARC provided by NetGalley and the publisher in exchange for an honest review* 3.5 stars. This book is a wonderful deconstruction of masculinity and trauma, particularly that faced by Black men and boys. Broome’s discusses his own upbringing, which was heavily impacted by his father’s opinion of what it means to be a man and how he, being a feminine gay man, is constantly fed the message that he is not enough and that something is wrong with him. Broome seems to assert that these ideas formed at home, but were enforced further when he went to school by what other Black boys and men expected him to be. There are themes of drug use, suicidality, homophobia, physical and sexual abuse. There are letters to a young Black boy that he Broome sees on the bus woven through the narrative of his own life story, that serve as a kind of reflection on what he’s learned. I feel that this narrative was particularly strong and tied the memoir together. It is a heavy read, and Broome is very good at evoking emotion in his writing. I do however feel that there seemed to be a lot of unanswered questions and loose ends. This particularly bothered me when it came to Broome’s drug addiction, as his treatment or decision to get sober is never discussed, it is just made clear that in the future he is writing from, he is sober. He mentions his visits to rehab in passing, but never how he got there. His siblings are also a part of the narrative that isn’t really explored, and while I understand that this book is about Brian’s life, it would have painted a clearer picture of the family had his siblings been in more of his stories. Overall, I very much enjoyed this read but felt it left things to be desired.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Allie

    There's a literary gut punch around every page in this book. Broome is frank when it comes to his experiences with racism and colorism, with homophobia, and with physical and emotional abuse. He doesn't shy away from all of the nasty ways all manner of people excluded and abused and humiliated him. His father beat him for various minor offenses. His black peers bullied him mercilessly for not fitting in. His white peers only ever used him for entertainment. He had a tough life, but he survived t There's a literary gut punch around every page in this book. Broome is frank when it comes to his experiences with racism and colorism, with homophobia, and with physical and emotional abuse. He doesn't shy away from all of the nasty ways all manner of people excluded and abused and humiliated him. His father beat him for various minor offenses. His black peers bullied him mercilessly for not fitting in. His white peers only ever used him for entertainment. He had a tough life, but he survived to tell it. And in telling it, Broome's created a great narrative work. He's a fantastic, sharp writer. The main theme of wanting love from other people without conforming to their expectations is present throughout. There's also this recurring intermission, broken up throughout the book, called "The Initiation of Tuan." It's about a little boy that Broome sees on the bus who's on the cusp of learning what's going to be expected of him as a black boy. I always looked forward to returning to these parts; they kept the pace of the book swift and engaging. It could be argued that the last part was overly sentimental, but... I appreciated it. This is a book for outsiders, for anyone who's been othered or abused for being themselves, but I think everyone should read it. *ARC received from HMH through BookishFirst

  25. 4 out of 5

    Danna

    Brian Broome's Punch Me Up to the Gods is a powerful, thought-provoking read. It is a memoir, linked by short essays, detailing episodes of Broome's life starting in childhood and through his adult years. Broome is Black and queer; aware of his different-ness from a young age. Broome's "sissy"-ness is derailed by his father, whose idea of manhood is so stereotyped that it is painful to read. Broome's mother is stoic and, for the most part, also wants to keep Brian's more effeminate leanings tamp Brian Broome's Punch Me Up to the Gods is a powerful, thought-provoking read. It is a memoir, linked by short essays, detailing episodes of Broome's life starting in childhood and through his adult years. Broome is Black and queer; aware of his different-ness from a young age. Broome's "sissy"-ness is derailed by his father, whose idea of manhood is so stereotyped that it is painful to read. Broome's mother is stoic and, for the most part, also wants to keep Brian's more effeminate leanings tamped down. As a result, Broome is eager to escape rural Ohio as soon as he can. There is so much to unpack in this book; it feels hard to figure out how to summarize and what to take note of. Race, sexuality, alcoholism, addiction, domestic violence... this book touches on heavy subject after heavy subject. Yet, there is humor and a biting intelligence that make it oh-so-readable. I loved it, couldn't put it down, and was so deeply saddened. The world needs more books like Punch Me Up to the Gods. Highly recommended. Thank you to publisher for ARC in exchange for an honest review. Favorite quotes: “...what I am witnessing, is the playing out of one of the very conditions that have dogged my entire existence: this “being a man” to the exclusion of all other things. As Tuan’s father publicly chastises him for his tears, I remember how my own tears were seen as an affront. I remember how my own father looked at me as if I was leaking gasoline and about to set the whole concept of Black manhood on fire.” “But he would never apologize because he wanted to teach me that the world wouldn’t.” “... when it comes to white people, he has a shockingly short time to be cute before he becomes threatening. Black boys don’t get a long boyhood. It ends where white fear begins, brought on by deepening voices, broadening backs, and coarsening hair in new places beneath our clothing.” “But I had found that the distance between who white people already assumed I was and who I wanted to be was only as wide as my imagination.” “In that moment, she created within me the odd sensation of laughing through a deep ache. Like remembering something funny someone you loved once said while you’re sitting at their funeral. The feeling that confuses your body in an exhilarating way and you can’t differentiate between the tears born of mirth and the ones born of sorrow. Joy and pain get all mixed together in a yarn ball of emotions.” “People will tell you that times are different now, but I think we all know that only some love is granted public access.” “They’re JNCO jeans and they’re the latest thing. Everybody’s wearing them, but if I’m honest, I think they look a bit silly and I feel ridiculous in them. They have wide, flared legs. You know, for dancing. They’re so wide they cover your shoes and God help you if it rains. If the hems get wet, they get all soggy and heavy and, before you know it, you’re drenched from the calf down.” “I have only recently begun to factor my mental health into the act of living. Black life in America doesn’t seem to allow for it. As a race, we are often admired for how “strong” we are and for how much we have endured. The truth is that we are no stronger than anyone else. We have endured, but we are only human. It is the expectation of strength, and the constant requirement to summon it, fake it, or die, that is erosive and leads to our emotional undoing.”

  26. 5 out of 5

    Leigh Anne

    Straight talk, no chaser. If this book doesn't win a Lammy next year, I'll eat my Hills-scented candle without a slushee to wash it down. Northeast Ohio and Western Pennsylvania are the backdrop for this memoir of Black queer manhood and the many elements that keep it from full flower. And by "elements" I mean ever-present racism, internalized homophobia, addiction and, sadly, abuse from folks who don't know how to love Broome, but are doing their best to protect him from a world they know will be Straight talk, no chaser. If this book doesn't win a Lammy next year, I'll eat my Hills-scented candle without a slushee to wash it down. Northeast Ohio and Western Pennsylvania are the backdrop for this memoir of Black queer manhood and the many elements that keep it from full flower. And by "elements" I mean ever-present racism, internalized homophobia, addiction and, sadly, abuse from folks who don't know how to love Broome, but are doing their best to protect him from a world they know will be unkind. Generational trauma looms large here, and the essay written in Broome's mother's voice makes it clear that the author both understands and loves the woman who raised him (there's no better way to say "I love you" than to make a person feel SEEN). There is wit and humor here, too, in flashes; local readers who have been following Broome on social media forever will recognize the witty retorts and rhetorical volleys that have kept them entertained over the years. Readers who know the region will also resonate with Broome's description of places and spaces they know: Warren, Ohio, after Black Monday. The aforementioned Hills Department store. Sparkle Market. The Red Caboose. But even if you don't know those spaces, you will grasp their ethos thanks to Broome's place-making. He writes these spots in such a way that you'll believe you are right there with him. The same geographical care is taken with Pittsburgh: the long bus ride, which serves as a framing narrative for the memoir, begins in McKeesport, ends downtown, and covers all the territory in-between. A little boy named Tuan, who is also riding the bus, is the prompt for Broome's recollections of his childhood, his fervent hope that the little boy's upbringing will be kinder than his own, and his fears that it won't be. It's a good thing the reader knows Broome lived to tell the tale, because the odds are ridiculously stacked against him. He has no qualms about revealing all the abuses heaped on him: by other children, teachers, his struggling parents, and his own brother. He also doesn't flinch from telling you in great detail all the things he has done that he is now ashamed of, all the self-loathing that he is just now learning to forgive himself for. He throws the reader back to the time when Pride was definitely not sponsored by corporations, explores how colorism complicates queerness, and reveals the unusual things he'd do for love and drug money (it's not what you think, but it's definitely unusual, except in Pittsburgh perhaps). The reason traumatized folks struggle so much is because the past is a place, real estate in your head and heart that is impossible to sell or give away. Broome exorcises his past not by trying to shove it away, but by resurrecting its ghosts and letting them burn themselves out in the retelling. It's visceral. You feel like you're walking through fire next to him, unable to help the child, anxious to see how on earth he's going to become the man you know he grows up to be. Telling the truth, they say, shames the devil, and Broome's truth shames the devil so much here that Satan changes his name and skips town without leaving a forwarding address. Telling you where that bus ride ultimately leads the author would spoil the joy of reading it yourself. Suffice to say that, after a lifetime of baptism by fire, Broome is finally christened with water and the spirit, in a pagan sort of way that you'll celebrate when you get there. I mean. Words just don't. The only thing missing here is the 'hood Giant Eagle, and that's actually fine because after a debut like this, I'm pretty sure we're getting another book. Thank you, Brian Broome, for sharing your gifts with us. I hope you make so much money you never HAVE to write again and can just focus on doing what you obviously love and are incredibly good at. Recommended for all library collections, especially in the OH/PA/WV triangle, but definitely everywhere: there are queer Black boys in America who will need this book, and you should have it ready for them when they come looking for something they cannot yet articulate.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Jamele (BookswithJams)

    This memoir is a difficult, emotional read, but I am glad it was written. Broome is a black, gay man that grew up in Ohio and was abused from almost everyone, from family members to friends to strangers. He was abused simply for being ‘different’, meaning dark skinned and not being ‘masculine’ enough like everyone else. The problem with this is that he never really got to come into his own like the other children, but rather he was bullied often and forced into horrifying situations to try and ‘ This memoir is a difficult, emotional read, but I am glad it was written. Broome is a black, gay man that grew up in Ohio and was abused from almost everyone, from family members to friends to strangers. He was abused simply for being ‘different’, meaning dark skinned and not being ‘masculine’ enough like everyone else. The problem with this is that he never really got to come into his own like the other children, but rather he was bullied often and forced into horrifying situations to try and ‘make him like everyone thought he should be’ which had to be ridiculously confusing for a young child. Oh and let’s add to that an abusive dad that loses his job and does the least to try and help the family out, and probably in fact does the exact opposite. Broome works through this trauma throughout the book and it is gut wrenching at times. Broome prefaces each chapter with vignettes called ‘The Initiation of Tuan’, which are his observations of a Black father and his young son Tuan while they are on a city bus together. He observes both how the child acts and how the father responds to the child, and correlates them to his own experiences. I thought the first half was a bit stronger than the second, but again, it is so hard to review memoirs, and overall this was such a powerful story that just needs to be told. Thank you to LibroFM and HMH Books for the ALC to review.

  28. 5 out of 5

    D.K. Hundt

    In PUNCH ME UP TO THE GODS: A MEMOIR, Brian Broome reflects on his life growing up in Ohio as a dark-skinned Black boy, his crushes on boys, being raised by a Father whose ideology regarding what it means to be a man was drilled into him with an iron fist, and his addiction to alcohol and drugs. Though I do know what it’s like to be treated as different, I can’t even begin to imagine what life was like for Broome growing up, and later into adulthood. Raising a daughter who is Bisexual, from a pa In PUNCH ME UP TO THE GODS: A MEMOIR, Brian Broome reflects on his life growing up in Ohio as a dark-skinned Black boy, his crushes on boys, being raised by a Father whose ideology regarding what it means to be a man was drilled into him with an iron fist, and his addiction to alcohol and drugs. Though I do know what it’s like to be treated as different, I can’t even begin to imagine what life was like for Broome growing up, and later into adulthood. Raising a daughter who is Bisexual, from a parent’s perspective, our children need to know they’re loved and supported. Life is hard enough without adding the burden of isolation and loneliness. Thank you, Brain Broome, for your strength and sharing your life story with the world. ‘My biggest failing in this life has been my gasping need to be loved at the expense of so many other things. I have allowed others to tell me who and what I am supposed to be and, when I failed to meet their expectations, I blamed myself. This need to be loved by everyone has led me down dark roads more times than I can tell in one book — in one thousand books even — and all I have to show for it are these stories.’ PUNCH ME UP TO THE GODS: A MEMOIR—Highly Recommend! Thank you, NetGalley and Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing, for loaning me an eGalley of PUNCH ME UP TO THE GODS: A MEMOIR in the request for an honest review.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Sara

    "we learn that white boys are people and Asian boys are exotic and Hispanic boys are luxurious and Black boys are for sex." Punch Me Up to the Gods is a raw, powerful memoir that explores the ideals of Black masculinity, and that intersection with the queer identity, and what it is to be a queer Black man in the USA. It is brutal, powerful and superbly honest. The memoir comes as a collection of essays about moments throughout Brian Broome's life, glavanized (and organized for us) through a shared "we learn that white boys are people and Asian boys are exotic and Hispanic boys are luxurious and Black boys are for sex." Punch Me Up to the Gods is a raw, powerful memoir that explores the ideals of Black masculinity, and that intersection with the queer identity, and what it is to be a queer Black man in the USA. It is brutal, powerful and superbly honest. The memoir comes as a collection of essays about moments throughout Brian Broome's life, glavanized (and organized for us) through a shared bus trip between narrator and a small Black boy named Tuan. I found this really interesting, and this starting point made me reflect and approach the essays in such a different way. This book talks of racism, homophobia, physical/emotional/sexual abuse, toxic masculinity, misogyny, family, addiction/alcoholism. With humour and a great writing style (felt almost poetic at points), one feels saddened but still wants to keep reading. I really appreciate the realness and unsanitized depictions. This is seen in other themes too, but Brian talks about being queer while not being a "good queer" - ashamed, denial, hidding, wishing it away; cowardice sometimes feels forbidden to queer stories.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Justin Hall

    Powerful. Heart breaking. Raw and poignant. This book is a memoir for so many who have had imperfect childhoods and suffered the pangs of racism and homophobia. But its also a book for those who have not. I have great respect for Broomes life story and his ability to tell it. Empathy and understanding only happen when we open ourselves up to life experiences different from our own. This books parallel story between his childhood and bus ride watching a young baby boy named Tuan was my favorite a Powerful. Heart breaking. Raw and poignant. This book is a memoir for so many who have had imperfect childhoods and suffered the pangs of racism and homophobia. But its also a book for those who have not. I have great respect for Broomes life story and his ability to tell it. Empathy and understanding only happen when we open ourselves up to life experiences different from our own. This books parallel story between his childhood and bus ride watching a young baby boy named Tuan was my favorite aspect and made the book a page turner. Thanks so much for Taryn and HMH for getting this book into my hands. Very glad i got to read it.

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