Coming of Age in Solitary
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No Ashes in the Fire: Coming of Age
Black and Free in America
by Darnell L. Moore
Nation Books. 256 pages, $26.


BOOKS SHOULD NOT be judged by their covers, of course, but sometimes a cover can telegraph what’s inside. Darnell Moore’s memoir of growing up as a low-income African-American in a society managed by affluent whites is exquisitely conveyed by the charcoal lettering on its white cover. A gay theme does emerge, but the first half of the book is about building a social foundation. Here the deep networks of black life in urban America are laid out as much by example as by description. Moore isn’t telling only one slice of his story. We get all of the complexities of race, sexuality, and human relationships from family to childhood to college graduate.

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