Buck by MK Asante

Buck by MK AsanteBuck by M.K. Asante
Published by Random House Publishing Group on August 20th 2013
Source: Publisher
Pages: 272
Buy from IndieBound

In his memoir Buck, MK Asante traces his days as a teenager in North Philadelphia, searching for solid ground in his constantly shifting, dangerous world. Though he was raised in a supportive household, Asante (then known as Malo) struggles as successive changes turn his home inside out: his brother is in prison across the country, his father leaves and his mother is in and out on the edge of mental illness. With few options, full of untamed anger and emotion, Malo looks to the street as his new family.

Woven into Malo’s story are excerpts from his mother’s diary, which he finds himself reading while she is hospitalized. Her voice gives insight into the family while her concern for her sons act as a stark contrast to the increasingly violent life Malo is living. In haunting passages she makes it clear that writing is a family strength, something Malo won’t realize until he makes his way through several schools and finally sits down with a piece of paper in the right one.

“I realize that school and education don’t go hand in hand, that school and education can be as distant or as close as sex and love.” 

As an educator in the juvenile correctional system, one of my greatest thrills is watching my students develop a passion for reading over the course of their time. With limited entertainment options, many discover the joy of books and are soon devouring title after title. In my ideal world, the school library would have several copies of Buck, but unfortunately, some of the language and content won’t make it through the filters created by the powers that be. Still, when my students admit they’re worried they won’t read when they’re released, I have my newest recommendation. 

Written in a voice that flows with the poetic beauty of hip hop, Buck is a testament to the impact of education, the bonds of family and the power of the written word. MK Asante has written an unforgettable memoir that will stay with you long after the final page.