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An enthralling, deeply personal examination of the search for a home and the long-lasting effects of immigrant cultural dislocation. Antonio Michael Downing's memoir of creativity and transformation is a startling mash-up of memories and mythology, told in gripping, lyrical prose. Raised by his indomitable grandmother in a hot, verdant Trinidad, Downing at age 11 is uproote An enthralling, deeply personal examination of the search for a home and the long-lasting effects of immigrant cultural dislocation. Antonio Michael Downing's memoir of creativity and transformation is a startling mash-up of memories and mythology, told in gripping, lyrical prose. Raised by his indomitable grandmother in a hot, verdant Trinidad, Downing at age 11 is uprooted to Canada when she dies. But not urban Toronto: he and his older brother are sent to live with his stern evangelical Aunt Joan, in Waubigoon, a mostly Indigenous community in northern Ontario where they are the only black children in the town. In this wilderness, he begins his journey as an immigrant minority, using music and performance to dramatically transform himself. At the heart of his odyssey is the search for a home. He briefly reunites with the feckless biological parents who abandoned him--Al, a womanizing con man and drug addict, and Gloria, twice abandoned by Al, who seems to regard her sons as cash machines. Downing finds surrogate families, whose love he can't fully accept, and later, enters a string of romantic relationships that fail. His saga takes him to New York to Toronto and to Manchester, where he will begin his European musical tour with Liam Gallagher of Oasis. He and his artistic collaborator Gada Jane create the gold-chain laden, sequin and leather clad rock star "John Orpheus." While abroad, Downing receives word that a fire has destroyed most of his belongings. He feels liberated, free to create his new self, one that has accepted and risen above the family dyfunction and trauma of his early years. Richly evocative, Becoming John Orpheus is a heart-wrenching but uplifting story of a lonely immigrant boy who overcomes adversity and abandonment to reclaim his black identity and embrace a rich heritage.


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An enthralling, deeply personal examination of the search for a home and the long-lasting effects of immigrant cultural dislocation. Antonio Michael Downing's memoir of creativity and transformation is a startling mash-up of memories and mythology, told in gripping, lyrical prose. Raised by his indomitable grandmother in a hot, verdant Trinidad, Downing at age 11 is uproote An enthralling, deeply personal examination of the search for a home and the long-lasting effects of immigrant cultural dislocation. Antonio Michael Downing's memoir of creativity and transformation is a startling mash-up of memories and mythology, told in gripping, lyrical prose. Raised by his indomitable grandmother in a hot, verdant Trinidad, Downing at age 11 is uprooted to Canada when she dies. But not urban Toronto: he and his older brother are sent to live with his stern evangelical Aunt Joan, in Waubigoon, a mostly Indigenous community in northern Ontario where they are the only black children in the town. In this wilderness, he begins his journey as an immigrant minority, using music and performance to dramatically transform himself. At the heart of his odyssey is the search for a home. He briefly reunites with the feckless biological parents who abandoned him--Al, a womanizing con man and drug addict, and Gloria, twice abandoned by Al, who seems to regard her sons as cash machines. Downing finds surrogate families, whose love he can't fully accept, and later, enters a string of romantic relationships that fail. His saga takes him to New York to Toronto and to Manchester, where he will begin his European musical tour with Liam Gallagher of Oasis. He and his artistic collaborator Gada Jane create the gold-chain laden, sequin and leather clad rock star "John Orpheus." While abroad, Downing receives word that a fire has destroyed most of his belongings. He feels liberated, free to create his new self, one that has accepted and risen above the family dyfunction and trauma of his early years. Richly evocative, Becoming John Orpheus is a heart-wrenching but uplifting story of a lonely immigrant boy who overcomes adversity and abandonment to reclaim his black identity and embrace a rich heritage.

30 review for Saga Boy: My Life of Blackness and Becoming

  1. 4 out of 5

    Antonio Downing

    Yes I've rated my own book because it is like my child and though I see all its flaws I love it intensely. It is the story of a person finding their way, of a family making the most of the difficult hand they're dealt. Though it is a particular story of Blackness, immigration, fish-out-of-water, masculinity, vulnerability and creativity, if I have done my job it is a story of the human heart. A place we are all familiar with. If you've ever had to leave everything behind and start again somewher Yes I've rated my own book because it is like my child and though I see all its flaws I love it intensely. It is the story of a person finding their way, of a family making the most of the difficult hand they're dealt. Though it is a particular story of Blackness, immigration, fish-out-of-water, masculinity, vulnerability and creativity, if I have done my job it is a story of the human heart. A place we are all familiar with. If you've ever had to leave everything behind and start again somewhere else, or a grandmother that inspired you, or a difficult relationship with your family's history, or known the solitary feeling of being the outsider, you will hopefully find a nourishing richness here. I hope that it is a celebration of our shared humanity from my heart to yours.

  2. 5 out of 5

    2TReads

    This was a memoir of love, loss, pain, forgiveness, self-actualization, and self-acceptance. Downing shared all his vulnerabilities, missteps, and ultimate triumph. -All I wanted was a home. For the ground to stop shifting beneath my feet. For something, anything, to stay the same long enough for me to feel rooted- Tony. 🌴 That quote sums up what Tony grew up wanting, what he needed to secure his emotional, mental, and physical well-being. The writing is simple yet poignant with a certain lyricism This was a memoir of love, loss, pain, forgiveness, self-actualization, and self-acceptance. Downing shared all his vulnerabilities, missteps, and ultimate triumph. -All I wanted was a home. For the ground to stop shifting beneath my feet. For something, anything, to stay the same long enough for me to feel rooted- Tony. 🌴 That quote sums up what Tony grew up wanting, what he needed to secure his emotional, mental, and physical well-being. The writing is simple yet poignant with a certain lyricism that is wholly Caribbean when we got it. 🌴 Downing writes with an almost brash quality. The prose is crisp and no-nonsense even when sharing trauma, he approaches it with the vulnerability and steel that can be found existing dually in children. 🌻 But when he speaks of his grandmother, there is beauty and love and poetry in the way he depicts her strength and faith and eventually her encroaching weakness. His recollection of his childhood in Trinidad is lush with descriptions of friends, land, rivalry, mischief, faith, and yearning. 🌻 However when he moves to Canada, everything is different: he is always an oddity and so seeks acceptance, feeling a lack because there is no familiarity and no one tries to ease his way into this new social construct. 🍁 I was struck by Downing's intuition and survival instincts, even when he is the smallest person in the room, which is often, he is always aware and watchful, almost as if he is reading, absorbing the facets of the situation, learning, so that he is then able to transform what he has learned into something beneficial. 🍁 He also writes with an awareness that the region's own will recognize when it comes to the influence and constructed models left behind and instituted by our former colonizers. The language, schooling, religion, and social behaviours and mores. 🍁 As he grows older, he is able to identify the dysfunction and failure of his parents to provide with the stability and love that would have enabled him to have come into himself sooner and with fortitude. He is then able to take the steps towards confronting that failure and thus move towards healing, which is a lifelong activity. 🍁

  3. 4 out of 5

    John

    Fast, lush read. This is the story of a boy growing into a man, and the different masks he wears. What I found fascinating about it, because I know Mike and lived with him for a year in university (so he's Mike to me!) is that all of these masks are so transparently him. There's so much I clearly did not know about him, yet none of it surprised me. Despite the shape-shifting character, he remains constant. And while he talks about how he's chasing his family, what's clear is that, even if it's n Fast, lush read. This is the story of a boy growing into a man, and the different masks he wears. What I found fascinating about it, because I know Mike and lived with him for a year in university (so he's Mike to me!) is that all of these masks are so transparently him. There's so much I clearly did not know about him, yet none of it surprised me. Despite the shape-shifting character, he remains constant. And while he talks about how he's chasing his family, what's clear is that, even if it's not a "traditional" family, his family is vast, diverse, and deep loving, even if they remain human and flawed. Yes, this is a book about Blackness, and it is good to read that perspective to get why Black people are pushing back against the structures and systems of our society, and have been for a long time. This is a good book for that. It's also a book that reveals that there IS some universality of experience, that crosses national borders, race, gender, and identity (even within one person!). We all want to love and be loved, and we all struggle with how to do that, when we are sometimes deceived or used or hurt.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Cheriee Weichel

    Thanks to NetGalley for the opportunity to read and review this book. This crossover YA/Adult title will be released January 19, 2021, by Penguin Random House Canada. "The Queen designed my brain." is the first sentence in this four part memoir. It is a critical statement hinting at the ramifications of colonialism and the implications of it at an intimate level. The most important thing about this book is the exquisite writing. Every page is full of swoon worthy prose. I ended up highlighting lin Thanks to NetGalley for the opportunity to read and review this book. This crossover YA/Adult title will be released January 19, 2021, by Penguin Random House Canada. "The Queen designed my brain." is the first sentence in this four part memoir. It is a critical statement hinting at the ramifications of colonialism and the implications of it at an intimate level. The most important thing about this book is the exquisite writing. Every page is full of swoon worthy prose. I ended up highlighting line after line - way too many to begin to share all of them with you in this review. Please forgive me if I've gotten carried away with the quotes. I will never be able to do justice to the beauty of Downing's words. You will have to read it yourself. The book is organized into four acts. Each act references a specific time in his life and the different person he was in each of them. Act one: Tony Until he was eleven years old the author lived in Trinidad with his older brother, Junior, and Grandmother who they called Mama. The rest of the community called her Miss Excelly. Mama was a deeply religious woman who gave generously of her love, time and whatever she had, trusting that whatever she needed would come back to her. The gifts she gave Tony would enable him to survive what hell he would end up facing, including the abuse he endured from a neighbour there. Downing wasn't aware of the gifts then, but it's there in his writing when he writes about coming home from school. Mama was always singing. Tony was greeted by it every day. "Her voice perfumes the very air... All of creation became her voice calling me home." Tony was a excellent student who loved to read. As he read from the white canon of literature, "what unfolded page by page, battle after battle, image after image, was the great river of things that explained the world." He came to understand "the golden rule: there was a place called white, and it was always better." He was attending a prestigious school when Mama died. Act Two: Michael At age eleven, Tony and Junior were taken from Trinidad to Waubigoon, an indigenous community in Northern Ontario. They lived with their Aunt Joan who was a social worker working with the people there. Tony became Michael. His first teacher was a nightmare. Not only did she change his name, she tested him and recommended he be put ahead two grades. I gasped as I read this - already seeing the disaster this was likely to become. I remain angry thinking about how different things might have been for him had he been allowed to remain with his peers. He became increasingly isolated: not fitting in with his classmates or the white or the indigenous community. At the same time, even at his young age, he understood he was more connected to the latter group than either of the former. While attending a PowWow he acknowledged that the Indigenous people were as much victims of racism and colonialism as he was. He also came to understand that their power and strength had not been completely destroyed, "they were still here. They were still part of the land." Aunt Joan, who knew much about the boy's background, tried to do her best by them. She understood that Michael was 'fragile and explosive.' Still, she allowed Junior to be sent away to go to a prestigious school in the United States where his Aunt Agnes would become his guardian. Agnes then abandoned him, just like she had abandoned the boys' father when he was in her care. Joan tried to stop it, but when Michael was twelve, the two boys ended up going to live with their father and stepmother, Al and Hailey. There is a pattern to Downing's writing that make me ache for him. It is full of the most endearing moments and memories. Then the next line lets us know they are only fleeting. Writing about a time with his father he shares: "he would listen to what I had to say. He cared about what I thought. My father- the man I knew only from photos and tales- cared what I thought. I eased back in the seat and tried to lean like he did, sneaking peeks to make sure I got it right. I studied the hair on his face where he had shaved that morning, the brown tinted sunglasses the obscured his eyes but not his vision, and the confidence, as if nothing as square as worry had ever touched him. The way laughter would jerk and explode out of him in a spasm, as if he were four years old and hitting a bike rim with a stick as he dashed down Monkeytown Third Branch. It was the first time I had felt that close to him. It was also one of the last." Al and Hailey were addicts. "Living with addicts is like living with zombies: you never know whether they'll eat you or ignore you." They only wanted the boys for the government money they brought in. The beginnings of who he could become is hinted at when he writes a 'choon' that is sung by Junior's band. Over time Junior spent increasing amounts of time away from home. Eventually he moved out and became "a space I no longer recognized." Michael escaped the lonely craziness of his homelife by retreating into words and songs. He didn't understand that these were the same things Miss Excelly had needed to survive: "how to read and how to sing." Eventually Michael moved in with Ami, his father's second wife. While there he connected with his two younger half brothers and joined the basketball team. Ami, a white woman, worked hard and did her best, but could barely make ends meet, never mind feed an athletic, growing, always starving teen. On a basketball trip he responded to the racist bullying of his white teammates and ended up being the one who got suspended. He writes, "I had always understood the pecking order of our basketball team. Certain boys were always given the benefit of the doubt. There was a place called "white:" and it could get away with murder." Thankfully Coach Barry Lillie and his wife, Elaine, invited him to live with them. Eventually he became part of their family and ended up getting into the University of Waterloo. During this time he reconnected to his mother, Gloria and more of his half siblings. He ended up responsible for the reunification of his parents. In the end, it ended up in disaster. When he was cut from the university basketball team, he was left with an unfillable void. Downing writes, "basketball had fathered me. I had soaked up second hand daddying from my teammates. Between the sweaty practices, the nail-biting games, and the breathless sprints, I had absorbed the lessons their fathers had taught them." A new friend, Chachi, introduced him to art and helped him fill the emptiness. Spending time together, Downing wrote while Chachi painted. Act Three: Mic Dainjah Transformed into a new person again, Downing hid from his damaged self through running, women and music. On the surface he was successful. He worked for Blackberry and became a Canadian citizen. As Mic Dainjah, he was the lead singer of a band called Jen Militia. When he was performing he "vanished to a place with no father, no mother, no corporate bosses, no good kids to keep up with - just the certainty of being alive and somewhere I belonged." Anger simmered beneath the surface. After hitting his girlfriend, he ended up in an anger management program. He writes about this time with brutal honesty. It's loaded with sympathy and empathy for his peers in the program. The men had to take responsibility for their actions, learn to recognize their triggers and de escalate situations. He writes powerfully about acknowledging guilt and shame. This treatment program helped him, but it wasn't enough. It would take much more therapy before he would be able to heal himself. He continued to spend time with Elaine and Coach, his unofficially adopted father. But acknowledges that, "Even after fifteen years, it was still disorienting to be loved by them" Act Four: John In this section Downing writes about his ongoing therapy and coming to the realization that 'while I was busy hiding from myself, words and music had saved me. I was still living off an old lady's prayers." He begins to deal with, "the monster lurking at my core." He begins to tend to the little boy who doesn't feel good enough. Of course, recovery isn't instant. Many friends helped Downing survive. Gada Jane's introduction to the art collective was an important part. Working with her on the John Orpheus project was another. Everyone needs someone who will tell them, "you are enough on your own." His friendship with Howard was instrumental in leading him back to Trinidad and a feeling of belonging. The little boy inside him started to become whole again with Howard's help. This book translates the global ramifications of colonialism into an intimate level. It's a story about abandoned fathers abandoning their sons who in turn abandon their own children. It's about the power of women who are the"mules of the empire, forced to carry the burden of the Crown's dreadful legacy, of black bodies chained to the spines of ships, of broken families, of men disempowered, stripped of their status in the home, sent to roam the earth with only their sex to prove their manhood, slaves by blood and by circumstance, saga boys." It's about trying to fit into a mould not made for you. It's about searching for love, family, and home. It's about learning to love and learning to forgive. It's about becoming who you are. Over the space of eight years Antonio Michael Downing lived in six cities, went to six schools and had six different guardians. It could have decimated anyone, never mind a Black youth who, on top of all that, had to deal with a history of abuse. The miracle of Antonio Michael Downing is not that he became a successful professional and artist after all he experienced, but rather that he survived at all. I raged and wept many times while reading this book. I am left thankful for the gift of learning a bit about what it means to be a Black Canadian from Trinidad. I hope to be a better ally after finishing it. While reading this memoir I spent some time watching John Orpheus music videos. I hope you enjoy Electric, from a new album he is working on, as much as I did.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Tina

    SAGA BOY: My Life of Blackness and Becoming by Antonio Michael Downing is a moving memoir that really drew me into his life story. Antonio shared deeply personal experiences from his early childhood in Trinidad to moving to Canada with such honesty that was so engaging for me as a reader. It was really interesting to hear his thoughts on growing up as an immigrant, his untraditional family unit, and finding himself within his cultural identity and musical inclinations. It was truly a wonderful j SAGA BOY: My Life of Blackness and Becoming by Antonio Michael Downing is a moving memoir that really drew me into his life story. Antonio shared deeply personal experiences from his early childhood in Trinidad to moving to Canada with such honesty that was so engaging for me as a reader. It was really interesting to hear his thoughts on growing up as an immigrant, his untraditional family unit, and finding himself within his cultural identity and musical inclinations. It was truly a wonderful journey to read his life story and I’m so curious to listen to some of his music now! . Thank you to Penguin Random House Canada via NetGalley for my advance review copy!

  6. 5 out of 5

    Halden

    Saga Boy is raw, honest, and an essential read for those looking to get an understanding of the immigrant experience and blackness in Canada. Downing does not hold back and I am very appreciative that he let me learn from his experiences.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Eleni

    A remarkable examination of the search for a home and belonging, Saga Boy is a quest for self-understanding, and how people, memories, and cultural constructs shape and evolve our sense of self throughout our lives. This memoir will stay with me long after I finished the last page. Recommended.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Lynn

    This memoir was difficult for me at times. I wanted to take young Tony in my arms and let him know that it was going to be okay but we all know things don't work out that way. I was captured from the moment I read this little Trini boy moves to Dryden. Since we are a similar age and both grew up in Ontario there was a lot I could relate to and a lot I could learn from. PS I started calling mama Miss Excellency 1/4 way through. This memoir was difficult for me at times. I wanted to take young Tony in my arms and let him know that it was going to be okay but we all know things don't work out that way. I was captured from the moment I read this little Trini boy moves to Dryden. Since we are a similar age and both grew up in Ontario there was a lot I could relate to and a lot I could learn from. PS I started calling mama Miss Excellency 1/4 way through.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Sue Trav

    I cannot recommend the audio book format of this enough! Hearing him read it and talk "Trini" was way better than I could have imagined it sounding had I read the words. It is also worth it to hear him sing the hymns he grew up (not a churchgoer but spent some time there in my youth and they were all familiar to me). It was beautifully written. So descriptive I felt like I was there with him in the scenes he was describing. I loved his relationship with his grandmother and his love for her shine I cannot recommend the audio book format of this enough! Hearing him read it and talk "Trini" was way better than I could have imagined it sounding had I read the words. It is also worth it to hear him sing the hymns he grew up (not a churchgoer but spent some time there in my youth and they were all familiar to me). It was beautifully written. So descriptive I felt like I was there with him in the scenes he was describing. I loved his relationship with his grandmother and his love for her shines through in this book. The rest of the subject matter is tough to get through. Rape, child abuse, abandonment, drugs and so much more. I am happy for him that he seems to be working through his childhood trauma and was really rooting for him throughout the whole story (except the part with the assault on his girlfriend which was shocking to hear but I did appreciate his honesty).

  10. 5 out of 5

    Suzanne Bhagan

    So far, Saga Boy by Antonio Michael Downing has been the most compelling thing I've read this year. Downing's writing is evocative of the trauma of parental abandonment he experiences and the near constant rootlessness of his life after his spiritual lifeline, Grandma Excelly, dies. He and his brother, Junior, leave Monkey Town, Trinidad for Wabigoon, Canada to live with their Seventh Day Adventist Auntie Joan. This fresh start in "foreign" however begins a downward spiral, with he and his broth So far, Saga Boy by Antonio Michael Downing has been the most compelling thing I've read this year. Downing's writing is evocative of the trauma of parental abandonment he experiences and the near constant rootlessness of his life after his spiritual lifeline, Grandma Excelly, dies. He and his brother, Junior, leave Monkey Town, Trinidad for Wabigoon, Canada to live with their Seventh Day Adventist Auntie Joan. This fresh start in "foreign" however begins a downward spiral, with he and his brother struggling to find and hold on to other anchors in the harsh new landscape. Sometimes fragmented but highly recommended if you liked memoirs such as Secrets We Kept by Krystal Sital and Educated by Tara Westover.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Sonia

    WOW. An incredible story, a personal saga, a touching ode to what shapes our identities, where we call home, and what makes a family. Such an impactful read that practically vibrates with the restorative, grounding, and protective properties of stories, art, and language. A beautiful, messy, and enthralling life.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Enid Wray

    A gut wrenching, heartbreaking tale of a boy’s journey to manhood… across time and space. I did find that it took me a little bit to get going with this one. I found it slow to read - for whatever reason - for the first section. The story - the writing - the telling - really seemed to find itself after the death of Tony’s grandmother and his subsequent move to Canada. Perhaps this is an artefact of his being older and the memories being less speculative… the experiences being ones he truly rememb A gut wrenching, heartbreaking tale of a boy’s journey to manhood… across time and space. I did find that it took me a little bit to get going with this one. I found it slow to read - for whatever reason - for the first section. The story - the writing - the telling - really seemed to find itself after the death of Tony’s grandmother and his subsequent move to Canada. Perhaps this is an artefact of his being older and the memories being less speculative… the experiences being ones he truly remembered on his own? Or perhaps it was my own - unconscious - reaction to the childhood events described, how devastating they were (not that later events weren’t equally devastating…). It’s not my place at all to comment on his lived experience, and certainly not the impact his multiple childhood traumas have had on his development as a person, as a man. But I can comment on the connections he makes to the roots of the problem lying in the historic system of colonisation… and how he deconstructs all of the ways in which that plays out across generations. Statements - conclusions - like that “there was no justice anywhere for black boys in the commonwealth” (p237) stop you dead in your tracks. And I can also comment on the importance of a few strong women in his life… most especially his grandmother, Miss Excelly. She verily leaps off the page, his ability to realise her such a testament to the love he holds for her - in his heart even to this day - and the role she played in his life. Not perfect by any means, but doing the best she could, she is testament to the power of love in our earliest formative years to - eventually - help see us through to who we ultimately become as adults. While he is still clearly a work in progress - as he deals with his trauma in finally realised and much needed therapy - there is hope… for him as a Black man, and (hopefully) for us as a society as we struggle to tear down all of the systemic barriers - the legacies of colonialism - that are so clearly articulated through his life story. 4.5

  13. 5 out of 5

    shelina

    Saga Boy is a touching memoir, a sensitive unearthing of personal and family history, trauma and healing. It’s also a story of migration and finding home: an emotional as much as physical place. There’s a flow to the book like water picking up all matter of debris and carrying it forward without stopping, just gently rolling on, acknowledging all moments equally. Reading this book made me think more widely of the inherent imperfection in families and individuals, the personal histories that mani Saga Boy is a touching memoir, a sensitive unearthing of personal and family history, trauma and healing. It’s also a story of migration and finding home: an emotional as much as physical place. There’s a flow to the book like water picking up all matter of debris and carrying it forward without stopping, just gently rolling on, acknowledging all moments equally. Reading this book made me think more widely of the inherent imperfection in families and individuals, the personal histories that manifest in harmful behaviours of varying degrees, the need to accept, forgive, love and learn. Also, the role of art, expression & creativity as a means to process, heal & grow.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Kasha

    I love reading books by local authors, especially when the voices come from immigrant communities and tell stories that feel familiar in their searching, groundless ness and vulnerability. I appreciated the social critique that was woven into the examination of identity, and the ways that we kept returning to family in all its complexity and glory. The story felt both familiar and fresh, and through all the heartbreak I appreciated the author’s ability to capture an optimistic grind towards resi I love reading books by local authors, especially when the voices come from immigrant communities and tell stories that feel familiar in their searching, groundless ness and vulnerability. I appreciated the social critique that was woven into the examination of identity, and the ways that we kept returning to family in all its complexity and glory. The story felt both familiar and fresh, and through all the heartbreak I appreciated the author’s ability to capture an optimistic grind towards resilience and belonging.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Erin Nigh

    A beautifully-told story about finding home, a place to belong. When he moved to Canada with his brother, they lived in northern Ontario and ended up in Sioux Lookout, a small town where my mom lived as a child, so to hear more about it from his perspective was really interesting, and we don’t hear a lot about that part of Ontario. What he went through as a young child and the adversity he’s dealt with in his life is painful to imagine, highlighting the power of stability and unconditional love, A beautifully-told story about finding home, a place to belong. When he moved to Canada with his brother, they lived in northern Ontario and ended up in Sioux Lookout, a small town where my mom lived as a child, so to hear more about it from his perspective was really interesting, and we don’t hear a lot about that part of Ontario. What he went through as a young child and the adversity he’s dealt with in his life is painful to imagine, highlighting the power of stability and unconditional love, the power of reaching out and being that for someone especially when they don’t have that from the people who are meant to take care of them. I appreciated his self-reflection and the assertion that even after the last chapter of the book, his healing and growth aren’t finished. It felt honest and real. CW: Childhood sexual abuse, domestic violence, parental neglect

  16. 4 out of 5

    Janet

    This was a stretch read for me but I wanted to commit to finishing it. I don't really get into autobiographies or biographies for that matter either but he's someone that I knew and worked with from my BlackBerry days. Gotta give him credit for putting some of the tough moments oh his life out there for all to see. Not an easy thing to do. This was a stretch read for me but I wanted to commit to finishing it. I don't really get into autobiographies or biographies for that matter either but he's someone that I knew and worked with from my BlackBerry days. Gotta give him credit for putting some of the tough moments oh his life out there for all to see. Not an easy thing to do.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Rebecca

    This memoir feels like an adventure spanning time and continents. Downing explores generational trauma and colonialism but never loses sight of the people at the heart of any family story. Concepts of memory, identity, race, belonging, and vulnerability.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Erika

    A beautifully written memoir about growing up in Trinidad, the immigrant experience in Canada, and feeling a sense of belonging. It was great on audiobook too, as the author was constantly singing throughout, and has an amazing voice. 4.5 stars.

  19. 4 out of 5

    MandM

    Listened to on Libro.fm. So glad I did. I enjoyed how he changed his accents to fit who was talking. Something I would have been able to do if I read it. Made the the book more rich and some alive.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Den Ghez

    An interesting read. Wish I’d thought of highlighting the beautiful prose expressed in this book. A reminder of what it’s like to want a family and the obligations when you have one.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Jbondandrews

    A very moving and touching family story.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Graham

    I don't generally read memoirs however, after listening to his interview with Shelagh Rogers on CBC I was compelled. This is a very good read: incredibly heart warming at times, utterly uncomfortable at others...never dull. Thank you Antonio Michael Downing. You, like you said about Shelagh, are a national treasure: both Canadian and Trinidadian. I don't generally read memoirs however, after listening to his interview with Shelagh Rogers on CBC I was compelled. This is a very good read: incredibly heart warming at times, utterly uncomfortable at others...never dull. Thank you Antonio Michael Downing. You, like you said about Shelagh, are a national treasure: both Canadian and Trinidadian.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Cece Chen

  24. 5 out of 5

    Kevin Linger

  25. 4 out of 5

    Suzanne

  26. 4 out of 5

    JoAnne

  27. 5 out of 5

    Charlotte

  28. 4 out of 5

    Jenn

  29. 4 out of 5

    Kim

  30. 4 out of 5

    Shannon

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