Obviously: Stories From My Timeline
Author: Akilah Hughes
Publication Date: 24 September 2019
Genre: YA – Memoir/Humor
Publisher: Penguin Teen
In Akilah Hughes’s world, family–and life–are often complicated, but always funny. Through intimate and hilarious essays, Akilah takes readers along on her journey from the small Kentucky town where she was born–and eventually became a spelling bee champ and 15-year-old high school graduate–to New York City, where she took careful steps to fulfill her dream of becoming a writer and performer. Like Tiffany Haddish’s The Last Black Unicorn or Mindy Kaling’s Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? for the YA set, Akilah pens revealing and laugh-out-loud funny essays about her life, covering everything from her racist fifth grade teacher, her struggles with weight and acne, her failed attempts at joining the cheerleading team, how to literally get to New York (hint: for a girl on a budget, it may include multiple bus transfers) and exactly how to “make it” once you finally get there.
Have you ever read a book that you didn’t realize your soul needed until you finished it? That was this book for me.
Akilah’s story breathes life into the struggles that not only plague the everyday life of teenagers but also the struggles associated with being a woman of color. Each chapter of this book is a different snippet of her life experiences, and we see how each one comes together to tell her life story.
So many of these chapters had me laughing one minute to crying to the next. From the incredibly high expectations of school work to the nuances of black culture, I felt this in my core.
The chapter that still stands out to me is “Racism to a 15 Year Old Girl”. So many tears were shed in this chapter because I experienced all of these things. People assume racism is being called the n word or overt injustice. Nope. Racism is when a guy tells you that he doesn’t normally date black girls, but you’re really pretty even though his parents wouldn’t approve. Racism is when your friends’ parents in college tell you that they’re impressed with how well spoken you are. I needed this validation so much.
This book right here is why #ownvoices novels are necessary and always needed for any race, gender, orientation, disability, etc. As humans, we all face different adversities, and as we readers we need to see that validated in characters.
HUGE thank you to Penguin Teen for gifting me an ARC. This did not influence my review. All opinions are my own.