cover image No Ashes in the Fire: Coming of Age Black & Free in America

No Ashes in the Fire: Coming of Age Black & Free in America

Darnell L. Moore. Nation, $26 (256p) ISBN 978-1-5685-8948-0

Moore, an editor-at-large at the content distributor Urban One and a columnist at Logo, describes his bold and candid memoir as “snapshots of my life,” molded by forces of “brutality, poverty, and self-hatred.” During the 1980s, he is one of a family of 11 in a three-bedroom home in Camden, N.J.; he shares memories of barbecues, dance contests, hip-hop music, and dark family secrets. One grim secret is his abusive father, a regular resident of jails in the 1970s and ’80s, who routinely abused his wife. Moore’s most eye-opening event occurred when neighborhood boys yelled gay slurs at the 14-year-old Moore and tried to set him on fire before an aunt came to the rescue. At age 19, Moore suffered a near-fatal heart attack, which quickened his resolve to succeed at Seton Hall University even while dealing with the stigma of being gay. Moore offers insightful comments on racism and sexual identity throughout (“The consequences of black queer desire seemed more lethal than poetic. And I did everything in my power to resist becoming what I sensed society hated”); eventually, he moved past self-hatred to a firm commitment to service and activism as a leader in the Black Lives Matter movement. Moore’s well-crafted book is a stunning tribute to affirmation, forgiveness, and healing—and serves as an invigorating emotional tonic. (June)