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I picked this book up on a whim in the library one day, while searching for something different to read. Not quite understanding what "Losing My Cool" was about, I chose it. I was hooked from the first page, very reminiscent of James McBride's book "The Color of Water". I learned so much and even gained a new appreciation for the hip hop culture. With precision, candor, wit, and unflinching honesty, Williams gave a view into two worlds that usually exist in parallel and opposite to one another. His use of extraordinary vocabulary and vivid descriptions, I was introduced to a new generation of young educated people and their growing pains in a society that refuses to change the status quo.
Gangsta Hip Hop Exposed
Could not put it down. This book should be read by girls headed to high school and college. It should be a discussion topic for all the many African American young men suspended from schools or dropped out. What an eye opening insight into one of the reasons why our kids seem to fall for the artificial life that someone else has purported to be real. Principals, teachers, ministers, priest, parents and students should definitely read this book multiple times to get the essence of what it going on in many of our children's minds and lives. There are so many references and quotes given that anyone could use this as a beginning course in a great study. My thanks and hats off to Thomas, his mom,his father and his brother, Clarence Jr. I plan to read it again and hopefully use it to inspire.
Kat F. (Palatine, IL)
Shattering preconceived notions
As a middle-class, middle-aged white woman living now in white bread suburbia, I often (even though I know I shouldn't) look at younger people and make assumptions based on how they speak, what they are wearing, what they are listening to, etc. This book was a needed whack upside my head reminding me things aren't always what they seem. This would be a great selection for book clubs and generate interesting discussion.
Duane F. (cape girardeau, MO)
Loosing My Cool
A good book is many things, interesting characters, a plot that draws you in, text that builds a sense of the scene the characters live within, the circumstances faced by these characters and most importantly, how the characters solve the situation they are faced with. "Loosing My Cool" took me to a world I know little about and for all intents, a world I did not understand or even wished to visit. I must admit, I was in awe of the author by the end of this book. A young man coming of age filled each and every page. It occurred to me that I was watching and listening to him as though he were my own son. A magnitude of words have been written about peer pressure, it is not a new idea that children fall prey to influences beyond the realm of home and their parents perceptions. But this book spoke with such a new, clear, honest and brave voice, I was compelled to listen. What young people are faced with in the fast, free, drug laced easy virtue of today's world is beyond what a parent can imagine. What this book does is allow a teenager to see the reality of that world. I think is should be required reading for every high school student. The seeds planted by caring parents need fertile ground to grow upon. Today's teenager can either give in and live in fear of the pressures of their peers and flounder, or they can grasp the vast and varied philosophies of the world and find their place to succeed, They can not think like us, they are living a different experience, but more importantly, we don't need them to think like us. What this book tells us is that they need their culture as a new starting point. Understanding that thinking and evaluating what life offers, is the real freedom. I love the simple wonder of this book! Even at the tender age of 64, Thomas Chatterton Williams gave me a new view of a world I was in opposition to, and made me rethink my viewpoint. Well done!
Sharon W. (Two Rivers, WI)
Losing My Cool
I thoroughly enjoyed my book. Being from NJ originally also had me interested. It was very interesting to read how books and hip-hop came together. I was glad to see that the father kept on Thomas about a good education. Listening to his father, he went a long way. Even though his brother didn't study as hard, did well by himself too.
Sande O. (Rochester, NY)
Now I think I understand a lot better
Hip hop music and culture always eluded me. Being a white female I failed to see the allure, but having read Thomas Chatterton William's new autobiography, I think I get it now. This is an extremely well written voyage into the world of modern day black youth. Although Williams was born to a biracial, middle class intellectual couple he was still drawn into the Hip Hop mystique
Barbara C. (Riverside, CA)
A Father's Love
How he was attracted to it and how he extricated himself from it forms the nexus of this "coming of age" voyage. I found the trip and the author's reflections very rewarding. It is sure to stir controversy and start readers thinking.
Being the age of Thomas' father myself, that relationship was the thread that I followed through the book. The book was rich with philosophical turns, anecdotes, history, and culture from a very non-typical perspective....but very much driven by the loving, strong father. The book had so many facets to understand--hip hop to Hegel in 200 pages. I guess my desire would be to sit down at the table with Pappy and Thomas and understand the subtle nuances between their middle class and mine. I loved the book and couldn't put it down!
WDH (New Port Richey, FL)
I like the author's voice throughout the book. He chronicles growing up and trying to find your place in the world very well. He is thoughtful in how he examines his life and the lives of his friends and his views about getting caught up in a culture and believing you are something you really are not are thought-provoking. The author acknowledges his father (and to a lesser degree his mother) and provides a showcase for the power and influence a key person with love, strength, patience and perseverance can have over a child's life. The description of his father's library and his love of books and knowledge was in itself a powerful message. This book is a good read.