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My Seven Black Fathers: The Men Who Made Me Whole

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A call to action and a narrative that runs counter to every racist stereotype that thwarts the lives of men of color today. My Seven Black Fathers is a memoir like few others--both the story of Yemi, a boy with an African name who feels awkward and alone as he is shunted from school to school, and a powerful consideration of the role of race, masculinity, education, and fam A call to action and a narrative that runs counter to every racist stereotype that thwarts the lives of men of color today. My Seven Black Fathers is a memoir like few others--both the story of Yemi, a boy with an African name who feels awkward and alone as he is shunted from school to school, and a powerful consideration of the role of race, masculinity, education, and family in the lives of Black boys in the United States today. Inspired by Will Jawando's experience as a civil rights and education policy attorney, as well as by his involvement in My Brother's Keeper, President Barack Obama's hugely effective mentorship program for young men of color, this book explores the bonds that developed between the author and the host of father figures who formed him: Mr. Williams, the math teacher who taught him how to tie his first tie; Joseph, the stepfather who altered his understanding of family; Jay Fletcher, the openly gay colleague of his mother's who introduced him to the theater; Mr. Holmes, the high school chorus director who taught him to use his voice and saw him through a crushing disappointment; and Deen Sanwoola, who helped him bridge the gap between his American upbringing and his Nigerian heritage--eventually leading to a reconciliation with his biological father. Written out of a deep appreciation of the Black male experience, My Seven Black Fathers is an essential and affirmative new take on the meaning of race and family in America.


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A call to action and a narrative that runs counter to every racist stereotype that thwarts the lives of men of color today. My Seven Black Fathers is a memoir like few others--both the story of Yemi, a boy with an African name who feels awkward and alone as he is shunted from school to school, and a powerful consideration of the role of race, masculinity, education, and fam A call to action and a narrative that runs counter to every racist stereotype that thwarts the lives of men of color today. My Seven Black Fathers is a memoir like few others--both the story of Yemi, a boy with an African name who feels awkward and alone as he is shunted from school to school, and a powerful consideration of the role of race, masculinity, education, and family in the lives of Black boys in the United States today. Inspired by Will Jawando's experience as a civil rights and education policy attorney, as well as by his involvement in My Brother's Keeper, President Barack Obama's hugely effective mentorship program for young men of color, this book explores the bonds that developed between the author and the host of father figures who formed him: Mr. Williams, the math teacher who taught him how to tie his first tie; Joseph, the stepfather who altered his understanding of family; Jay Fletcher, the openly gay colleague of his mother's who introduced him to the theater; Mr. Holmes, the high school chorus director who taught him to use his voice and saw him through a crushing disappointment; and Deen Sanwoola, who helped him bridge the gap between his American upbringing and his Nigerian heritage--eventually leading to a reconciliation with his biological father. Written out of a deep appreciation of the Black male experience, My Seven Black Fathers is an essential and affirmative new take on the meaning of race and family in America.

30 review for My Seven Black Fathers: The Men Who Made Me Whole

  1. 4 out of 5

    Laura Hill

    Thank you to Farrar, Straus and Giroux and NetGalley for providing an advance copy of this book in exchange for my honest review. The book will be published on May 3rd, 2022. Montgomery County Councilman Will Jawando’s memoir of growing up with an absent Black Nigerian father and a white mother is well-written, measured and thoughtful, with constant fresh insights along the way. I loved the overall theme of the book — rather than considering himself a boy raised without a father, he considers him Thank you to Farrar, Straus and Giroux and NetGalley for providing an advance copy of this book in exchange for my honest review. The book will be published on May 3rd, 2022. Montgomery County Councilman Will Jawando’s memoir of growing up with an absent Black Nigerian father and a white mother is well-written, measured and thoughtful, with constant fresh insights along the way. I loved the overall theme of the book — rather than considering himself a boy raised without a father, he considers himself as having seven fathers — Black men who took the time to teach him how to be a man by mentoring him, serving as role models, and generally giving him the love, attention, and advice he needed. Eventually, this even led to a loving reconciliation with his biological father. He honestly made me see mentoring in a new light — how mentoring can literally help someone by exposing them to aspects of life that many of us take for granted. How else can a fatherless boy learn to be a man (or a motherless girl learn to be a woman, or an immigrant learn how to be a citizen of a new country, etc.). I’ve read a number of books recently about children growing up in some of the more gang ridden areas of the country, with very few fathers present. Why wouldn’t they grow up modeling on the adult men available to them — gang members? Jawando speaks intelligently about issues — not in slogans — and while racism is a factor in the story, it is just one factor of his experience, not the lens through which the whole story is filtered. He did occasionally make unsubstantiated generalizations based on his interpretation of personal experiences, but not very often, and more often referenced studies showing the broader sociological impact of various things he personally saw or experienced on a personal scale. It would be hard not to immediately think of Obama’s first book — Dreams from My Father — while reading this. There are many parallels between them (both had African fathers, white mothers from Kansas, and wives named Michel(l)e and in fact, Obama is one of Jawando’s “fathers” based on the time Jawando worked on his staff. Interesting, inspiring, accessible, and with real depth — definitely worth reading.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Chrissy

    I found My Seven Black Fathers on a whim, as I had decided to select from my library whatever book was most recently checked in -- and, on this particular day, that book happened to be by Will Jawando. I didn't expect much, since I'm not familiar with the author, nor have I ever noticed the book as I normally browse. But I guess those are the books that take you most by surprise -- the ones you never saw coming. Jawando's recounting of the seven black men who made profound impacts on his faith, co I found My Seven Black Fathers on a whim, as I had decided to select from my library whatever book was most recently checked in -- and, on this particular day, that book happened to be by Will Jawando. I didn't expect much, since I'm not familiar with the author, nor have I ever noticed the book as I normally browse. But I guess those are the books that take you most by surprise -- the ones you never saw coming. Jawando's recounting of the seven black men who made profound impacts on his faith, confidence, integrity, self-identity, career, relationship, and mental wholeness were both entertaining and endearing. I found myself flipping pages at 2am on a random Wednesday -- when I definitely had to be at work the next morning -- just because Jawando really has a way of making his own story feel personal and fulfilling to the reader as well. I'm glad My Seven Black Fathers was the gateway book that will get me back to reviewing, because it's always feels good to start out strong with a book that you know will resonate with such a wide audience. 5 stars.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Heather

    In 𝐌𝐲 𝐒𝐞𝐯𝐞𝐧 𝐁𝐥𝐚𝐜𝐤 𝐅𝐚𝐭𝐡𝐞𝐫𝐬, Will Jawando shares how seven men helped to shape him into the man he is today. Growing up without his birth father present, Will found other Black men - through school, basketball, church, work - to fill that void. From each man, Will learned an important life lesson that provided him with a deeper sense of self. Within this book, are lessons for the rest of us about the importance of the roles Black men have on current and future generations. ⁣ ⁣ Today, Will is a civil In 𝐌𝐲 𝐒𝐞𝐯𝐞𝐧 𝐁𝐥𝐚𝐜𝐤 𝐅𝐚𝐭𝐡𝐞𝐫𝐬, Will Jawando shares how seven men helped to shape him into the man he is today. Growing up without his birth father present, Will found other Black men - through school, basketball, church, work - to fill that void. From each man, Will learned an important life lesson that provided him with a deeper sense of self. Within this book, are lessons for the rest of us about the importance of the roles Black men have on current and future generations. ⁣ ⁣ Today, Will is a civil rights and education policy attorney, an activist, a public servant, a husband and a father.⁣

  4. 5 out of 5

    Josie Stewart

    Thank you to Farrar, Straus and Giroux and NetGalley for the ARC of this book. Will, also named Yemi, shares in an autobiographical book, a look at those who have influenced his life, 7 Black Fathers. His book reaches us in many ways not only how we can empower and influence one another with our time, dedication, and care but, he also shows how relationships develop over time and the intricacies of family relationships. The book also demonstrates the impact of systematic racism and biases of the Thank you to Farrar, Straus and Giroux and NetGalley for the ARC of this book. Will, also named Yemi, shares in an autobiographical book, a look at those who have influenced his life, 7 Black Fathers. His book reaches us in many ways not only how we can empower and influence one another with our time, dedication, and care but, he also shows how relationships develop over time and the intricacies of family relationships. The book also demonstrates the impact of systematic racism and biases of the educational system. The sharing of the women in his life, his mother, his wife and daughters reminds us of the strength of family. This book is a quick read and written in an accessible way that called me to continue reading.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Robin Loves Reading

    In this touching memoir by Will Jawando - Yemi being his African name - he was determined to become a statistic on the positive side of America’s skewed racial balance sheet. Facts prove that racism is a multi-system disease and there might not be a cure. The author, in this self-narrated audiobook discusses seven men who made a huge impact on his life. Some of these men include his stepfather, Joseph Jacob, Mr. Williams, his math teacher, Barack Obama and others. Race and family in America take In this touching memoir by Will Jawando - Yemi being his African name - he was determined to become a statistic on the positive side of America’s skewed racial balance sheet. Facts prove that racism is a multi-system disease and there might not be a cure. The author, in this self-narrated audiobook discusses seven men who made a huge impact on his life. Some of these men include his stepfather, Joseph Jacob, Mr. Williams, his math teacher, Barack Obama and others. Race and family in America take on new meaning in this introspective book from a man who took on a role in the political world. Throughout his journey, Mr. Jawando illustrates how these men all played pivotal roles in his life. Also, he also sought out his African roots, and that helped to further mold him. His eventual reconciliation with his biological father was something that helped him tremendously. Although this book is written strictly from the author's perspective, his strong statements about the issue of racism really hit home for me. One such quote that really resonated with me is "enthusiasm, eagerness, and a desire to be acknowledged for something positive--all qualities that were encouraged and rewarded in my white peers while they were discouraged and penalized in me." This is Will Jawando's personal experience. This is my personal experience as well. He also showed how we often internalize injustice and unfair treatment because "repetitive chastisement narrows us". This book was captivating and uplifting and will be with me for a long time. I hope this author writes more books like this because change is needed in today's world. Many thanks to Ferrar, Straus and Giroux and to NetGalley for this ARC for review. This is my honest opinion. Please also enjoy my YouTube video review - https://youtu.be/zvzbNrKezrQ

  6. 5 out of 5

    Anita

    I love this book! This is the book I need six stars for, the book I wish all the men in my life would read, and the book I know I will return to for inspiration. Its simultaneously a personal memoir, and a portrait of the many ways mentors, parents, and other relatives can, by taking an interest and giving of themselves, make a huge difference in a person's life. I am struck by how reconciliation with his biological father was so important and how his wife played such a key role in creating the I love this book! This is the book I need six stars for, the book I wish all the men in my life would read, and the book I know I will return to for inspiration. Its simultaneously a personal memoir, and a portrait of the many ways mentors, parents, and other relatives can, by taking an interest and giving of themselves, make a huge difference in a person's life. I am struck by how reconciliation with his biological father was so important and how his wife played such a key role in creating the space for that reconciliation. I want the men in my life to read it so they understand that they are appreciated and celebrated and crucial to the lives of the people they care about. About two-thirds of the way into the book, I realized I loved it so much because I also had a black father, but never before saw such an honest appreciation of all the amazing things black men do as fathers. So Dad, this book is the book I wish I would have written for you, because you were these seven fathers all wrapped up in one and you took an orphan little girl that no one wanted and made her whole.

  7. 5 out of 5

    J Earl

    My Seven Black Fathers by Will Jawando succeeds on so many levels, both personal and societal. Structuring his memoir around seven pivotal father figures in his life helps make this as much social commentary as memoir. That said, neither is neglected. You become invested in his personal journey just as much as you, one hopes, become invested in wanting to make social change. One of the things that struck me early in the book was Jawando's ability to point out what he might disagree with about a f My Seven Black Fathers by Will Jawando succeeds on so many levels, both personal and societal. Structuring his memoir around seven pivotal father figures in his life helps make this as much social commentary as memoir. That said, neither is neglected. You become invested in his personal journey just as much as you, one hopes, become invested in wanting to make social change. One of the things that struck me early in the book was Jawando's ability to point out what he might disagree with about a figure without judging that person without context. The historical moment as well as one's upbringing is what makes any of us who we are, and we are presented with these men as both products of their times as well as agents for change, both in Jawanda's personal life and society as a whole. While I think many readers will take away the bigger message, the value of mentoring and community, I hope they don't lose sight of the memoir itself. Having these father figures is just part of the equation. What Jawando does with what he learns and observes is just as big a part, and this book takes us through the ups and downs of his life. The willingness to use his life story to help promote a better world speaks to the type of man he has become. I highly recommend this book to anyone who has an interest in either the biography/memoir genre itself or making iterative change in the world. Reviewed from a copy made available by the publisher via NetGalley.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Deborah Cleaves

    My Seven Black Fathers tenderly addresses the power of mentors and extended family members have to heal the pain of feeling unmoored and guiding a floundering youth to productive and empathetic adulthood. It unflinchingly addresses the challenges and emotional pain of feeling ‘other’ and learning to integrate productively while growing up, standing up for yourself and your beliefs in the face of opposition, and overcoming obstacles. It is a paean of praise for men who stand up and give of themse My Seven Black Fathers tenderly addresses the power of mentors and extended family members have to heal the pain of feeling unmoored and guiding a floundering youth to productive and empathetic adulthood. It unflinchingly addresses the challenges and emotional pain of feeling ‘other’ and learning to integrate productively while growing up, standing up for yourself and your beliefs in the face of opposition, and overcoming obstacles. It is a paean of praise for men who stand up and give of themselves to unrelated youth for no better reason than that they are present and able to do so. Inspirational.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Carol Macarthur

    This compilation of tributes to men in Jawando's life winds its way back to his, often absent, biological father, offering a poignant resolution and reunion. Jawando writes that the effects this diverse group of men had upon his own manhood varied in length of time, not always being more than a school year. His lyrical prose sparkles with humor, vivid description, and, sometimes, pain. We lucky readers will, without doubt, be hearing more from Will Jawando! This compilation of tributes to men in Jawando's life winds its way back to his, often absent, biological father, offering a poignant resolution and reunion. Jawando writes that the effects this diverse group of men had upon his own manhood varied in length of time, not always being more than a school year. His lyrical prose sparkles with humor, vivid description, and, sometimes, pain. We lucky readers will, without doubt, be hearing more from Will Jawando!

  10. 4 out of 5

    Tamara Evans

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. “My seven black fathers” is a book that serves three purposes of being a personal narrative, a memoir, and a guidebook showing the transformative power of mentorship in the life of a child. The book consists of an introduction followed by seven chapters highlighting each of the black men who heavily and permanently impacted Jawando’s life. In the introduction, Jawando discusses his life as a biracial boy raised by a white mother in Long Island after splitting from his Nigerian father and how bask “My seven black fathers” is a book that serves three purposes of being a personal narrative, a memoir, and a guidebook showing the transformative power of mentorship in the life of a child. The book consists of an introduction followed by seven chapters highlighting each of the black men who heavily and permanently impacted Jawando’s life. In the introduction, Jawando discusses his life as a biracial boy raised by a white mother in Long Island after splitting from his Nigerian father and how basketball was a entry point to establishing an authentic black identity. Jawando talks of being envious of talented basketball player named Kalfani and is surprised when Kalfani calls him over to play with other boys. After playing basketball, Kalfani takes him under his wing and him and Kalfani are close friends until freshman year of high school when Jawando moves away to go to a prestigious high school. Years later, Jawando gets a phone call that Kalfani is dead and it leads him to realize the importance of having a man in the home since a father in one home could be a potential mentor to another black boy. Chapter one starts with Jawando’s parents divorce and shows how his distant relationship with father impacted his life. When a new man, Joseph Jacob, enters Jawando and his mother’s life, his father attempts to poison the new relationship by telling his son that the new man destroyed their family and will eventually leave. Although Jawando initially believes his father, through a heartfelt conversation with his new stepfather, Jawando discovers that family is not only those who are blood related to you but they can also be made of people that care deeply for you. By the end of chapter one, Jawando has experienced major transitions in his family, name, and relationship between him an new stepdad. Chapter two has Jawando being bullied at school and treated poorly by teachers. His enthusiasm is view as a problem that no one wants to solve. When he attends his third school in the fourth grade, he is introduced to his first black male teacher, Mr. Williams. By seeing someone who looked like him in a position of power as a teacher, this inspired Will to be committed to high standards and to have dignity in all that he does. Jawando is saddened that Mr. Williams was the first and only black male teacher he has during his years in elementary, middle, and high school. Chapter three introduces Jay Fletcher, the first openly gay person Jawando met who showed him that being whole whoever he wanted to be meant learning to express his vulnerability and share his feelings openly. Chapter four introduces Wayne Holmes, high school football coach and gospel choir advisor. Through Coach Holmes, Jawando learns the importance of pushing through hard times and disappointments. Chapter five introduces Deen Sanwoola, IT systems manager who works with Jawando’s mom and also a Nigerian. Through Deen, Jawando learns that despite limited interaction with Nigerians in America, he belongs to the Nigerian diasporic community and to embrace his Nigerian identity of energy, resilience, hustle, and the entrepreneurial spirit. Through Deen, Jawando is finally able to visit his father’s homeland of Nigeria at the age of 19. Deen helps Jawando see the beauty and the ugliness of Nigerian and also acts as a conduit to learning more about his heritage and understanding his estranged father. Chapter six introduces Barack Obama and through the former senator and eventual president of the United States. Through seeing Barack, Jawando sees a reflection of himself as a biracial man who was born to an Kenyan father and an white American mother; seeing Obama on TV inspires Jawando and embrace his African roots; to participate in politics;during this chapter, Jawando makes the news and meets the woman who will eventually become his wife;get job working with Obama but leaders before he begins his presidential run;even after leaving Obama’s employment, Obama acts as mentor regarding career, how to navigate role as a new father and eventually because an unofficial member of Jawando’s family. Chapter seven ends with introducing Jawando’s father Olayinka Jawando. Since Jawando has had a distant and strained relationship with his father, he is surprised when his dad pays a unannounced visit. After obtaining steady work and housing, Dad reconnects by taking asking son to go to homeland with him. Upon visiting Nigeria, Jawando sees his father in a new light and is with him as he grieves time away and the loss of his parents. Although their relationship is distant, by the end of the book, Jawando forgives his father for his lack of presence and love and takes care of him in his final days. Through each chapter, Jawando imparts lessons regarding mentorship such as mentors don’t have to be involved in every aspect of someone’s life to make a difference, mentors help others reach a goal, and mentors are not always meant to be with you permanently. I also liked how each chapter combines Jawando’s life along with the background of the mentor highlighted Intertwined with Jawando’s story is the story of how black children are often demonized in school, systemic racism in the education system, and how black children are often given much severe punishment than their white counterparts. Jawando also provides research to reinforce the importance of black teachers, especially during third, fourth, and fifth grade in order to shift their prospects towards staying in school and pursuing higher education. Overall, this was an purpose of book is to show the power of having father figures in one’s life and its larger impact in the lives of black boys. As Jawando mentions several times through this book, there’s no right way to mentor a person and the more positive black male intervene in the lives of young black men, the greater the chance that they young man will be successful.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Christina

    This book is a love letter to Black youth and Black men all around. This book details Will Jawando’s life and the impact that seven men had on his upbringing, who shaped and molded him to be the man he is today. This book is awe inspiring, authentic, and necessary. Jawando shares his touching memoir with us in a deeply personal, and engaging way, that you become heavily and emotionally invested in his life, and how these men inspired, crafted, and shaped Will’s perspective on life, and his journ This book is a love letter to Black youth and Black men all around. This book details Will Jawando’s life and the impact that seven men had on his upbringing, who shaped and molded him to be the man he is today. This book is awe inspiring, authentic, and necessary. Jawando shares his touching memoir with us in a deeply personal, and engaging way, that you become heavily and emotionally invested in his life, and how these men inspired, crafted, and shaped Will’s perspective on life, and his journey into social justice. One of the messages I got from reading his memoir was: “Be Bold. Be Brave. Be Authentic.” His mentors and friends ingrained this into him at such an early age, that Will began to see the fruits of these relationships on him over time. His mother, may or may not have understood the need for these seven Black fathers in his life, but she knew enough that he needed to be surrounded by men who could give him the things he needed, that he may not have been able to receive from her, being a white woman, and his African father who was not emotionally equipped at the time to provide what was lacking. Being raised in an African American community myself, I saw the value and importance of raising a child up in the village. It is paramount to Black children that they are raised in a village or with a village mindset because it will only enrich our lives exponentially. The struggles his mother faced in trying to get him the right education, surrounding him and exposing him to culture-rich activities, keeping him engaged with his father despite the struggles they faced as a family, raising him up with someone who could relate to his ethnicity, were all done with such care and thoughtfulness, that Will was set up to succeed, and that was a blessing to see his life unfold the way it was able to do. The value of mentoring and community raising is not lost here, but explained in a first-hand way that you cannot ignore the value of Black male mentors to our Black youth. If every Black male had seven Black fathers to help them in this thing called life, Black youth would be/could be raised in such a way that everyone would benefit. Though these mentors are just a part of his life, what Will does with this knowledge he receives from these men, help to propel him into a successful career and life. His choices and opportunities become endless for him, and he reaps all the seeds that were placed in his life at an early age. This memoir has been different from other past memoirs I’ve read. For some reason or other, this memoir seems intricately complete and lacking nothing. We see Will during his ups and his downs. He doesn’t shy away or hide the ugly parts of his life, but uses those weak areas as a means for greater good, for a learning opportunity, and strategically recalls things that can be helpful for others like him. He also exposes us to the very real dangers of racism, prejudice, and institutional racism and their effects it has on Black youth, Black boys in particular. It was especially disheartening to read about his struggles in parochial education, and how his behaviors were always punished whereas the white children were praised for the same/similar things Will did. He talked about the struggles of being the only child in a bi-racial family, and his need to reconnect to his African family to get a better sense of who he was, and from what he came from. He spoke about his father’s struggles with depression, racism, foreignness to America’s issues, and his failures. One quote that stuck with me: “All American children need meaningful ties to their heritage, but Black children need it urgently. Knowing who and where you come from is the history our children need to make them resilient in the face of racist miseducation.” Although many readers will understand the overarching them of the importance of role models, mentors and community for children in general, it is especially important that Black youth (specifically Black boys) be provided these opportunities to have Black male teachers in school, black mentors they trust in the community, trusted adults who can expose them to things and ideas that are different than what they are used to; all of this is so deeply needed for the change we want to see in our nation and entire world. A parting message for those who have considered being a mentor, a teacher, or role model to the youth: “Mentors don’t have to be involved in every aspect of someone’s life to make a difference. Nor do mentors have to be a constant presence to have a deep impact.” Your willingness to be there when it counts is enough. The youth will see you. The youth need you in any capacity you are willing to give. Having trusted adults connected to young Black children is worth it in any capacity because it is just that necessary. I highly recommend this book to everyone. 5 stars. Thank you to Ferrar, Straus and Giroux (FSG), Coriolis, and the author, Will Jawando, for this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. ***The way many of these white reviewers have 1 starred his book is exactly the vitriol that was spewed at him during his parochial education. Those reviews make the case that many Black authors have shared. No matter the story or content, there will always be those white people who try to demean, diminish, and take giant steps into the past against their own interest. Will Jawando has done more and have proved beyond a shadow of a doubt his worth despite the naysayers and racists. His success only helps us all. He is for the people and betterment of his community for all. To try and diminish his work is beyond sickening.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Arlena

    Title: My Seven Black Fathers Author: Will Jawando Publisher: Farrar, Straus, and Giroux Reviewed By: Arlena Dean Rating: Five Review: "My Seven Black Fathers" by Will Jawando My Assessment: 'My Seven Black Fathers' was wonderfully written by 'author, civil rights attorney, and Montgomery County Councilman Will Jawando.' We find how these black men stepped up to the plate and were there for Will when his Nigerian biological father had failed in being around. Will had a caucasian mother from Kansas and Title: My Seven Black Fathers Author: Will Jawando Publisher: Farrar, Straus, and Giroux Reviewed By: Arlena Dean Rating: Five Review: "My Seven Black Fathers" by Will Jawando My Assessment: 'My Seven Black Fathers' was wonderfully written by 'author, civil rights attorney, and Montgomery County Councilman Will Jawando.' We find how these black men stepped up to the plate and were there for Will when his Nigerian biological father had failed in being around. Will had a caucasian mother from Kansas and a Nigerian father. It was an excellent ride as this group of men stepped up from a 'stepfather, a coach, a gay man, a pastor, a Nigerian entrepreneur, and the former President Barack Obama'...all of these men were there for Will when he needed someone. And by the end, it seems like his father, who had been so isolated from his American struggle, finally came around. Pick up this read that was so well-written where you will get some humor, good descriptions, and even some agony in what was going on at that time... in the life of Wiliam Opeyemi Taofik Alabi Jawando. Thank you to NetGalley and Farrar, Straus, and Giroux for the ARC read and my leaving my opinion of the read.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Courtney Bernard

    My Seven Black Fathers is a special memoir written with a focus on Yemi/ Will's life growing up and the impact that the black men in his life had on him. Will focuses on the role of race, masculinity, education, and family in the lives of Black boys in the United States today. The mentors in his life confront each one of these in their own way to help him grow and become the husband, father and activist that he is today. His story is a deeply personal one and you can feel the deep appreciation o My Seven Black Fathers is a special memoir written with a focus on Yemi/ Will's life growing up and the impact that the black men in his life had on him. Will focuses on the role of race, masculinity, education, and family in the lives of Black boys in the United States today. The mentors in his life confront each one of these in their own way to help him grow and become the husband, father and activist that he is today. His story is a deeply personal one and you can feel the deep appreciation of the Black male experience coming through the memoir. It is an important look at what it means to find yourself and the people that help you along the way. I loved reading this and seeing the difference in other people's lives. It is an interesting, introspective look at growing up and how important mentors are in a young person's life. Final thoughts, this memoir was an honest look at the life of Will Jawando and I enjoyed every minute of it. I would recommend this to anyone who enjoys a well-written and introspective memoir. Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for this ARC in exchange for my honest review!

  14. 5 out of 5

    Untamed Publishing

    Will Jawando’s life memoir serves not only as a historical chronological recount of his past from an inner city young black male to civic leader, husband, and father but also a call-to-action of black men community to uplift, educate, and mentor the next generation of young black males. The duality of the messaging compels us to take an in-depth examination of the influence of the world around our young people and reflect within ourselves on how we can do more and be better. This book reveals th Will Jawando’s life memoir serves not only as a historical chronological recount of his past from an inner city young black male to civic leader, husband, and father but also a call-to-action of black men community to uplift, educate, and mentor the next generation of young black males. The duality of the messaging compels us to take an in-depth examination of the influence of the world around our young people and reflect within ourselves on how we can do more and be better. This book reveals the dire importance of the village rising a child, and how vital it can be for a small act of intentional presence in the lives of our children. Entwined into these pages is birthed a riveting tale of Will’s journey of finding himself and his purpose paired with lessons from his seven black fathers and how understanding his personal facets helped mold him into the well-rounded family and community-focused individual he is. A must read that will emphatically inspire and motivate self-reflection and action. Excellent storytelling. Excellent read. Excellent book. Thank you NetGalley for this ARC.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Carianne Carleo-Evangelist

    This book was wonderfully complex and it took me two reads to give it a true, full review because the men in Jawando's life were similarly complex. Thank you, NetGalley, for a copy in exchange for my honest review. Jawando is a civil rights attorney, former member of Obama's administration and councilman, which means his perspective is a specific one -- but It's applicable to many growing up without a father, with or without the stereotype of that being "normal" within their culture as it is for This book was wonderfully complex and it took me two reads to give it a true, full review because the men in Jawando's life were similarly complex. Thank you, NetGalley, for a copy in exchange for my honest review. Jawando is a civil rights attorney, former member of Obama's administration and councilman, which means his perspective is a specific one -- but It's applicable to many growing up without a father, with or without the stereotype of that being "normal" within their culture as it is for Black America. I appreciated the lens through with Jawando looked at the men who became his surrogate father, and the lives they each represented within his own live. The story I found most poignant was Kalfani, a role model to him and then subsequently another familiar statistic of Black America as a victim of gun violence. I think Mr. Fletcher taught him the different meanings of role model and put him on his political path, even if he was more of a cultural lens. I will read this again and probably have another takeaway from it.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Martha Kuder

    Wayne-father taught me everything not to do-paraphrase from page 119. I resolved to not do things my mother did with my own children, so I related to this heavily. Coach Lonergon’s mistaking being loathed for being powerful! The bully’s of this time period would agree! On Barack Obama complimenting and showing appreciation publicly and openly like a thoughtful parent-man! do I miss classy action like this by politicians! On the same subject-the child psychologist saying that if you really want to e Wayne-father taught me everything not to do-paraphrase from page 119. I resolved to not do things my mother did with my own children, so I related to this heavily. Coach Lonergon’s mistaking being loathed for being powerful! The bully’s of this time period would agree! On Barack Obama complimenting and showing appreciation publicly and openly like a thoughtful parent-man! do I miss classy action like this by politicians! On the same subject-the child psychologist saying that if you really want to encourage a child to speak highly of them when they can overhear you-wonderful advice! Lastly, “watching someone you love die is like watching a rising tide slowly pull them into a vast ocean. Every wave that comes in slowly Carrie’s them farther away from you and you never know which one will take them away for good.” Regardless of your political view this book will open your heart to the value of parents.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Homerun2

    Moving and articulate description of the seven black men who most influenced the author. He is matter of fact about the ever-present racism which also shaped his coming of age, which highlights the waste and insanity of bigotry. He is particularly empathetic in talking about his birth father, a Nigerian who left a successful family to seek a college degree and life in the U.S. Ultimately his father was disappointed by limited opportunity. Jawando communicates the pain of his absentee relationship Moving and articulate description of the seven black men who most influenced the author. He is matter of fact about the ever-present racism which also shaped his coming of age, which highlights the waste and insanity of bigotry. He is particularly empathetic in talking about his birth father, a Nigerian who left a successful family to seek a college degree and life in the U.S. Ultimately his father was disappointed by limited opportunity. Jawando communicates the pain of his absentee relationship with his father with a poignantly described understanding of the heartaches of his father's life. The parallels between his life as the son of a Black African father and White Midwestern mother and Barack Obama's is particularly interesting. The fact that he has chosen a political career is encouraging, for he is a good man, and a thoughful one. Thanks to the publisher and to Net Galley for providing me with an ARC in exchange for my honest review.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Debie Orrell

    Wonderful book about the need for father figures and if you biological father doesn’t fill that other men like you can. While Yemi’s Nigerian father was always aloof so others filled that spot; his step dad, his Mom’s Nigerian work mate, senator Barrack Obama, Yemeni is biracial and so has never felt totally black but definitely not white. These men help Yemi feel a part of something which is very important for anyone. We each have a need for belonging. Thank you NetGalley and Farrer, Strauss, Gi Wonderful book about the need for father figures and if you biological father doesn’t fill that other men like you can. While Yemi’s Nigerian father was always aloof so others filled that spot; his step dad, his Mom’s Nigerian work mate, senator Barrack Obama, Yemeni is biracial and so has never felt totally black but definitely not white. These men help Yemi feel a part of something which is very important for anyone. We each have a need for belonging. Thank you NetGalley and Farrer, Strauss, Giroux for an ARC. Wonderful book about out places and understanding that sometimes that the past experiences can sometimes cause you to not be as open as you would normally be. #Netgalley #Farrer, Strauss and Giroux

  19. 5 out of 5

    James

    Engaging, but the author isn't as unique or as interesting as he thinks he is. The format - one chapter per father - is good and helps give the narrative a solid frame. The writing isn't bad, although not very memorable. Reads fast. Religious. Just so readers who can't with that know. But also LGBTQ-friendly. I think it evens out pretty well. Likely to resonate more with people from the urban South. TBH, I hope his political career goes places, but I don't know how likely that will be in reality. Ov Engaging, but the author isn't as unique or as interesting as he thinks he is. The format - one chapter per father - is good and helps give the narrative a solid frame. The writing isn't bad, although not very memorable. Reads fast. Religious. Just so readers who can't with that know. But also LGBTQ-friendly. I think it evens out pretty well. Likely to resonate more with people from the urban South. TBH, I hope his political career goes places, but I don't know how likely that will be in reality. Overall, if the title speaks to you, then the book is probably a good read for you, but a lot of readers can probably skip this one. Read with/instead: Here for it (Thomas).

  20. 4 out of 5

    Marianne

    Thank you to NetGalley for an early copy to review. When I saw the cover on the NetGalley website, I immediately requested since Will Jawando is on my county’s council. It was wonderful to read about his family’s background and learn about the 7 Black men who had such an influence on his life, along with others. The local references to places I know were nice to read. Jawando has dealt with a lot despite growing up in one of the most diverse counties in the country. I look forward to more from h Thank you to NetGalley for an early copy to review. When I saw the cover on the NetGalley website, I immediately requested since Will Jawando is on my county’s council. It was wonderful to read about his family’s background and learn about the 7 Black men who had such an influence on his life, along with others. The local references to places I know were nice to read. Jawando has dealt with a lot despite growing up in one of the most diverse counties in the country. I look forward to more from him in his future political career.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Kevin Owens

    Poorly written, narcissistic and misses the mark. The author, who wrote a book while being paid as a council member in Montgomery county maryland, excuses his own fathers departure and highlights 7 mentors overtime. Of course one being the president of the United States that had little interaction with Jawando. Missing the point of, it takes a village, because the lost opportunity was to discuss patriarchy in African American homes. The book would be readable if Jawando simply spoke of his abilit Poorly written, narcissistic and misses the mark. The author, who wrote a book while being paid as a council member in Montgomery county maryland, excuses his own fathers departure and highlights 7 mentors overtime. Of course one being the president of the United States that had little interaction with Jawando. Missing the point of, it takes a village, because the lost opportunity was to discuss patriarchy in African American homes. The book would be readable if Jawando simply spoke of his ability being a good father now.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Elizabeth Behrens

    An interesting reflection on the black male role models that this man has encountered throughout his life. I liked how each section about one of the role models wasn't exclusively about that one person, but also had background about the author's life leading up to meeting and interacting with the specific role model, the lessons learned from the role model, application of those lessons in either the reflection of the past or on present and future events, and the other people involved. An interesting reflection on the black male role models that this man has encountered throughout his life. I liked how each section about one of the role models wasn't exclusively about that one person, but also had background about the author's life leading up to meeting and interacting with the specific role model, the lessons learned from the role model, application of those lessons in either the reflection of the past or on present and future events, and the other people involved.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Rachel

    Reading this book is like getting lost in a hug. Will Jawando pulled me into his childhood, I felt like I was growing up with him and the fathers who shaped his sense of self and sense of the world. Thank you NetGalley and Farrar, Straus and Giroux for an early chance at reading for an honest review.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Erin

    This book was such a joy and inspiration to read. Jawando painted a vivid picture of his life, the struggles faced and the role models that helped raise him. His writing feels so genuine and down to earth. There's no grand standing. This is a story about a transformation guided by a host of mentors. I highly recommend giving this book a read. This book was such a joy and inspiration to read. Jawando painted a vivid picture of his life, the struggles faced and the role models that helped raise him. His writing feels so genuine and down to earth. There's no grand standing. This is a story about a transformation guided by a host of mentors. I highly recommend giving this book a read.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Winton

    An easy but fascinating read as the author explores 7 influential men that helped ‘father’ him. Some of the men have been in his life for decades , others for one school year. While all of may have such figures, the book explores some of the unique dynamics of the son of a Nigerian father and a Kansas born mother.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Lillian

    Competently written homage to elder Black men who mentor young Black men. Well told but not engaging.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Pete

    Not that interesting. A boy with a tough childhood. Will appeal to the woke, with lots of sympathy value

  28. 5 out of 5

    June

    A well written book by a fortunate male having more than one black male guiding and mentoring him to adulthood.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Jack Madden

    An interesting read emphasizing the importance of Black role models especially for children and, in this case, for young Black men.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Tasha

    This book shows how "it takes a village" was put into effect to raise this young man and the efficacy of it. This book shows how "it takes a village" was put into effect to raise this young man and the efficacy of it.

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