Ever read a book with such hypnotic writing that you lose all sense of place and time? Welcome to the words of Everywhere You Don't Belong.
Claude McKay Love is just trying to live and thrive in life. Born and raised as a Black man on the South Side of Chicago, Claude's lot is already complex and complicated. It's made even more so with the introduction of riots around his home and the situation of his area. His grandmother, a product of the civil rights era, pushes Claude toward change, and his family members, neighbors, and others in his community push to make him act one way or the other.
But Claude is just trying to live.
As we stride hand-in-hand with Claude through his childhood years and into adulthood, we have a front-row seat to his struggles to identify as a member of the Black community while also hesitant to put himself out there. He tries to leave his past and place in society behind him by leaving the South Side, attending college, and reinventing himself... but that only works well for a hot second, because as the saying goes, "you take yourself with you, wherever you go" and it's hard to outrun the fact that he's Black in America today. And at the end of the day, does Claude even want to outrun himself?
With poignancy, pain, violence, and heartbreak, Everywhere You Don't Belong sounds like the opposite of a funny, heartwarming read. And yet author Gabriel Bump manages to make you laugh and smile along with Claude. It's in the writing. Bump has done something special with this debut... it sings. I strongly encourage all to read this not only for the poignant commentary but also for its shining example of endurance and light.
A powerful book, and an author with writing to watch.
Thank you to Algonquin Books for my copy in exchange for an honest review.
Amy Imogene Reads
Just someone looking for her own door into Wonderland.