My Time Will Come by Ian Manuel

My Time Will Come: A Memoir of Crime, Punishment, Hope, and Redemption

My Time Will Come: A Memoir of Crime, Punishment, Hope, and Redemption by Ian Manuel

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I was absolutely astonished while reading this book. Speechless.

This is the true story of Ian Manuel, and his case. Manuel discusses the crime he committed as a 13 year old child, the environment that molded and shaped him, and how the US penal system swallows up our Black boys and men with a vengeance; hoping that they are no longer apart of society, forever. This book should not only enlighten you to Ian Manuel’s plight, but this book should open your eyes to the severity of treatment that is being handed down in prisons towards minors, minorities; particularly, Black males.

In 1990, the state of Florida sentenced Ian Manuel to “natural life,” life without parole, 15 years, and life probation when he was 13 years old. The state of Florida deemed that a 13 year old Black boy would never be redeemable as a human being in his entire life and deserved to die in prison. On top of this harsh and cruel punishment, Manuel was constantly assigned to solitary confinement for 18 years, from the age of 15 years old. The decompensation, the deterioration, and emotional and inner turmoil that he went through for the 26 years he spent in prison, was hard to read and process through emotionally.

What the US has done to children in this country is beyond comprehension. Although, Manuel was able to survive prison and the cycle of abuse that he had to endure, the system needs to be dismantled. If anyone doubts how systemic racism has constructed the pipeline to prison for Black boys, you should read this book.

Prison abolition has also been shouted into the halls of justice for decades. Mass incarceration of our Black youth has reached levels of insurmountable damage that is damn near impossible to correct. Prison advocates, private prison industry, state and city legislation that allows for the genocide of our people all have blood on their hands. This book showcases the affects of poverty, poor quality education, systemic racism, and over-policing in Black communities that lead to a demise in some of our Black youth. There is no way that a 13 year old Black boy would be irredeemable, beyond repair and rehabilitated, sentenced to die in prison. As Bryan Stevenson has stated, “Each of us is more than the worst thing we’ve ever done.” The racism and prejudice that exists in prisons need to be eradicated. Prison abolition is our answer.

I am utterly mesmerized by Ian’s life, and how he is adjusting to his life post-prison. He incurred some serious trauma in his life, and I just pray for his soul, his vulnerability, and his ability to discern what is in the best interest for his life.

Thank you to Netgalley, Ian Manuel, and Pantheon Books for this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. Full review, link in bio.

Companion reads with this book:
· Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson
· The Sun does Shine by Anthony Ray Hinton
· Heavy by Kiese Laymon
· Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates
· Bird Uncaged by Marlon Peterson

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Raybearer by Jordan Ifueko

Raybearer (Raybearer, #1)

Raybearer by Jordan Ifueko

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I can’t believe this is a debut novel!

I’ve come to really appreciate this new found sub-genre I’m believing that’s being created.

[New Genre: Black Girl, High Fantasy, SC-Fi, Magical Realism, Historical Fiction, YA]

As a reader, I was totally transported to the Empire of Oluwan. Jordan Ifueko’s writing is like something I’ve never experienced. I felt like I had put dents into my reading, covering so much information and I literally hadn’t moved 10 pages. Her writing is really concentrated that you get a lot story all while preserving the pace at the same time. Phenomenal!

Although this is a YA novel, the story does not shy away from real world problems. Ifueko ensures that she discusses real life situations in all walks of life, and sympathizes with young adults who may have had some tough choices in life early on.

This story is about a mom who is exacting revenge on her brother for participating in misogynoir and ostracizing from her rightful place in the empire. Power hungry king, now has to come to terms with his family secrets, and has to choose between doing the right thing or continuing along with usurping power for himself and his family. Regardless of what is going to happen, this book challenges your morality and makes you see things from a different perspective. Who is right, who is justified, who has been wronged, who’s responsible, etc.?

This book is original, fresh, and quite honestly I’m impressed with the deepness that Ifueko went to in this book. The topics are very multidimensional, the characters have flaws and seem real, as a reader I was torn on who to support or sanction, and it caused some thinking to take place as I read for pure pleasure. I really enjoy books that make me think outside of the box, and this book definitely hit all of those good spots in my brain.

Topics that were discussed:
– parenting
– revenge
– motherhood
– family
– friendships/bonds
– generational curses/trauma
– integrity
– leadership/the future
– pride/ego
– sibling rivalry
– ancestral trauma
– abuse/neglect
– gender/identity
– misognoir

I really appreciated how Tarisai didn’t compromise herself or her values through this whole book. She really sought the good in all situations and wanted the very best for all her people. The representation in this book was also amazing. I really loved the fact that multiple ethnicities and cultures were collaborating together. Although there is always bound to be some struggle, this book didn’t focus on pain and trauma regarding cultures/identity/ethnicity/race, but on evil vs. good, wrong vs. right, being upstanding vs. going along with tradition, etc.

I really loved all the character arcs that were given. Though I wanted more, I know Ifueko is not going to leave us hanging and will introduce more of the Eleven, and we should also meet and see more of this empire in the future.

I know this review is a bit nondescript because I don’t want to spoil anything, but please read this book!

Genies, magic, memories, flying, transporting, shape shifting, world building, revenge, murder, mystery and mayhem is all in here! Don’t wait to pick this up! Read this book TODAY!
Looking forward to the next installment! 4.75/5 stars.

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We are Bridges: A Memoir by Cassandra Lane

We Are Bridges: A MemoirWe Are Bridges: A Memoir by Cassandra Lane

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Evocative. Historical. Present.

How do you create an origin story, when the origin of your story has been stolen. Misused. Abused. Murdered. Belittled. Compromised. Damaged.

Learning about your ancestors as a Black person is like searching down a rabbit hole. We can only go back so far, and then we hit a wall of nothingness and have to come right back up.

Seeing how our oppressor didn’t really care or see us as actual people, but of property, and not even highly valued property, the record keeping is most often shoddy and derelict. Ensuring that our names are correct, our birthdates, our ages, our parents, our siblings, our children are listed accurately… was lost on them. They didn’t, and still do not, care for us as a people. We are nothing to them. It is as blatant and obvious as writing on a wall.

However, Cassandra (‘Sand’ as her family/friends refer to her) wants to learn more about her ancestors. Specifically about her great-grandfather Burt Bridges who was murdered by the hands of white authority figures in 1904 for having something the white people wanted, and he so boldly told them no. The oppressors chose violence, even when Burt chose not to be violent and not kill someone who obviously wanted him to die. Cassandra goes searching for who her family members were, what they stood for in the community, what were their hopes and dreams, how did they feel, what was it like to live in those times? Although not much is shared with her from her living relatives at the time, she pieces together her origin story in a beautiful and poetic way that allows for healing, for reflection, for introspection, for memory, for love, and life.

She discusses the shared collective issue every Black person has with their own history: “Where did my people come from?” “Who were they?” “What were they like?” She goes on a quest and documents what she finds and knits the pieces together like a beautiful tapestry. Ugly strings and all underneath, but on top, a gorgeous masterpiece that is interwoven with all sorts of wonders and gems and knowledge.

Her story, to me, seems like a lament; a sad song. However, it also has notes of hope, forgiveness, love, redemption, and a future. She traces back her lineage to uncover her great-grandfather’s ill-timed demise of being lynched before his wife delivers their first child. The journey of his wife reluctantly embarking on setting up a new life, and how that one son, birthed a host of children, from which we now have Cassandra.

Her memoir is moving and delves deep into issues that are pertinent and timely today. “We are bridges made of blood, and water, soil and skin.” (p. 66)
Topics discussed in the book:
– Freedom
– History
– Black Motherhood
– Black childhood
– Loss/love/future/the past
– Generational/ancestral trauma
– Blood & family
– Memory as haunting/subtle/devastating
– Oppression & death
– Healing

Her story is so relatable as a Black girl child living and growing up in the 80’s and 90’s. Having no idea about who my family all were. I can only trace back so far… learning through ancestry DNA tests where we generally came from, I am still lost. Searching. Hoping. I feel like in all of us (Black people) that we are missing pieces of our soul. We have a void in all of us, connecting us to our ancestors that were stolen. We don’t know where we came from specifically. Who our great-great-great-grandparents were. We are missing parts of us. On top of all that we constantly get beat down and killed from white supremacy who think we shouldn’t exist, that we shouldn’t be afforded any amount of comfort or life. White supremacy is exhausting, and Cassandra shares this exhaustion with us, in such a way that you become deeply invested in her story, hoping with her that she finds some nugget of truth. Some evidence that people came before her were alive and well, who lived full lives.

She discussed real-world problems and how Black motherhood is both dangerous and rewarding at the same time and her fears of bringing another Black body into this world of ours, that is already hurting and bleeding and full of people that don’t want us to succeed or live. I sympathized with her and came to appreciate her flaws, and mistakes… as we’re all human. We’re all just trying to make some sense of our lives. However, when you don’t know where you came from or who came before you… parts of you drift off into an abyss, and I’m thankful that at least she was able to find some peace at the end of her journey.

Highly recommend this book if you love origin stories and memoirs. Great topics and ideas to discuss with others, and this book provides a reader some space to reflect on their own history in regards to how you got here.

Thank you to Feminist Press, Coriolisco, and Cassandra Lane for this book in exchange for a fair and honest review.

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Bird Uncaged: An Abolitionist’s Freedom Song by Marlon Peterson

Bird Uncaged: An Abolitionist's Freedom Song

Bird Uncaged: An Abolitionist’s Freedom Song by Marlon Peterson

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I thought I would be able to share my thoughts in a nice polished, academic way, highlighting the key themes and ideas expressed, as well as an analytical review of his writing and quotes and notes that I wanted to share. However, I cannot write that type of review. This book hit straight to my heart. I’ve probably highlighted 75% of the book, wanting to remember his words exactly and the emotions I felt when I read the passages.

I grew up with people like Marlon in my neighborhood. He could’ve easily been my brother, my cousin, my friend, or even myself. Growing up in Black neighborhoods, the life he details is accurate. I can remember growing up on the Southeast side of Cleveland, Ohio and many of my homeboys was Marlon. His circumstances growing up in Brooklyn, with immigrant parents, is a background that many people I grew up with experienced. Just like Marlon, we could have all been the one to go to prison… we were only a choice away.

Historically redlined, Black neighborhoods did not have vast options for the youth. Your parents worked, maybe 2 jobs. You were a latchkey kid, and you learned how to make dinner by 10 years old. The choices and odds making it out of that neighborhood is slim. Even if you made all the right choices, the color of your skin will create obstacles that you could never imagine happening to you. So when Marlon decided to skip school one day, and finds himself in court being indicted on murder charges, people often wonder how did it escalate to that? Truth is, it doesn’t take much to go to prison in a Black neighborhood. All you have to do is just exist. Marlon chose to go left instead of right one day and found himself on the receiving end of a decade long sentence. However, Marlon chooses to beat the odds in prison and discovers his true potential as a prison abolitionist and educator/advocator of Black lives.

Peterson, takes us on a coming-of-age story that is gritty and grimy. We learn about his family and how they influence him and support him. We learn about his educational journey and get a feel for how Marlon grew up. Marlon tells of his frustrations as a young Black male who constantly gets his manhood challenged on a continual basis, and how believed his faith was failing him. We learn about his lack of purpose that he struggled to find as a young adult. He takes us through his decade long prison sentence, highlighting lessons learned along the way.

We learn about Marlon Peterson, the man who has overcome his adversities and circumstances to build a life of justice, liberty, love, and truth. Marlon has a passion for social justice, for prison abolition, for educating, and for advocating. This book really opened my eyes and allowed me to reflect back on my childhood in the 80s and 90s and realize that we were all a choice away from succumbing to our circumstances. It was fascinating to learn about the inner workings of prison, how both the prisoner and the family members do the time with them. How jails/prisons are profiting off Black labor once again, and how reign of power among the COs impacts individuals in custody. Furthermore, White supremacy hurts and destroys and Peterson makes it clear that we need to abolish the patriarchal society that is the foundation of this country.

I’m so glad that I was able to read his book, and it’s one of the best memoirs I’ve read since Kiese Laymon’s memoir, Heavy. I see as well that Kiese was an influence on him, and that is amazing to learn. Our young brothers need to stick together, just as much as our young sisters. Together we can grow stronger. Together we can make change! 5 stars.

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Caul Baby by Morgan Jerkins

Caul Baby

Caul Baby by Morgan Jerkins

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

So this book took a minute for me to get addicted to it, but once I hit that sweet spot, baby, I couldn’t get enough of this book. I switched from reading to listening, and the narrator brought this book to life for me. Shout out to Joniece Abbott-Pratt for narrating the hell out of this book!  

Morgan Jerkins takes us on a journey, ok?! She is a griot! In all the meanings of the word ‘griot,’ she is it. The way she explores the various topics in this book, was amazing! She has school in this book and teaches you all sorts of lessons that you didn’t even know you NEEDED, ok?! I am so hyped by this book, but I’m going to try to make sense of my thoughts about what I read in this masterpiece.


This book is a journey, and not a sprint… this book transcends all that you thought and makes you take a look into your internal biases, your external biases, how you were raised, how you are raising your kids, your life, your relationships, your self-worth… I can go on and on, there is just so much beyond what you read here in this story. Though she tells a great story, this book is so multi-layered that you could talk about the issues in this book for decades. This book deals with grief, loss, betrayal, drama, history, family, Black motherhood, feminism, and a host of other topics. There is also a historical lesson on the significance of caul births, the magical properties that are believed to be associated with caul births, and how this family is trying to keep its history and bloodline intact for the future.

Laila Reserve is a woman you first meet in the story, and she takes you through tragedy and loss. You get to witness her pain and her desperation as she’s trying to save her most recent pregnancy from loss. However, when she reaches out to the Melancon Family for some added protection, they turn her away, and she loses her baby, which sends her on a downward spiral deep into depression.

Laila’s niece, Amara, has an unwanted pregnancy, and she decides to keep her pregnancy a secret and gives her baby up for adoption as she feels she is not ready to be a mother.

Josephine Melancon, has also experienced grief and pregnancy loss and is surprised when a baby is brought to her for her to raise. Although she’s in the family business of selling caul to high end clients to, we see how this conflicts with her morals as she comes to understand that there is a price to pay to keep her family together.

Maman, the matriarch of the Melancon family, is tough, and she’s not here to play. She’s here to win and put her family in a better financial situation to last generations. However, there comes a point where even she can’t protect everyone and has to make a decision on how she’s going to either continue or let go.

Hallow, the precious ‘Caul Baby,’ is the future. We get to see her grow up and come to an understanding of how her life serves it’s purpose in her family. However, she too is not immune to what’s going on in her family’s life and house, and she has to make hard choices in order to live life in a way that is going to make her happy.

Morgan Jerkins takes you on a history lesson of caul, and what that means in terms of the properties in which some people believe in its properties.

The veil in African American culture is a mystical dimension of a spiritual belief system that traveled with slaves on the Middle Passage. An infant “born with a veil” of fetal membrane enveloping the head was interpreted as supernaturally gifted with a second sight, an ability to see into the future. Likewise, the seventh child of a seventh child would also be gifted with spiritual powers. The veil, also called a caul, like roots, charms, and conjurers, is a vivid aspect of African American spiritual, literary, and folklore tradition.

There is also another duality about the caul, and how Blacks and Whites are different, and how white people have an inability to view Black people as worthy and treat Black people as something they appropriate or take from them, but don’t want to be like or associated with, other than getting something they want from them that they deem valuable.

Jerkins also explores exploitation of how Black people can exploit or take advantage of each other for gain. In the case of Maman, she only views people based on how useful they can be to the household or to her financially, and if they are not useful, they should be discarded or abandoned.

Topics that I felt stood out to me:
– Black motherhood
– Loss (child loss, marital loss, parental relationship loss between mothers & daughters)
– Feminism
– Adoption (stigma of adopting in Black families)
– Infertility (lack of conversation about infertility historically in Black families)
– Marriage/relationships
– Gentrification (the dangerous presence of white people in Black communities)
– Karen’s/Todd’s (calling the police on Black people)
– Teen pregnancy
– Black culture/high expectations
– Black Bourgeoisie (looking down on regular Black people +negative thoughts of Black elite)
– Root magic/Blood magic/spiritual
– Being born special or “touched” in the Black community
– Child abuse
– Betrayal
– Drama, gossip & pettiness in Black communities
– Disrespect
– Mental health

TW: miscarriage, child abuse (cutting, burning, etc.), infertility, abandonment, mental health

Jerkins also has a brilliant sense of tension that she has in this book that keeps you captivated the entire time. She weaves this story together, and illuminates the cracks in the wall, the monsters hiding behind the doors, the beacons of light in the community, the safe havens that can be found, the love that is always there but can be misguided or misdirected, the miscommunication and untrustworthiness that can happen because of racial animosity, the generational trauma that plagues the Black community because of slavery and segregation and demoralization and criminalization of our people for hundreds of years, the post traumatic stress that envelops Black people from birth, the constant hands-out/touching/petting/appropriating of whiteness, the danger, trauma, and horror of gentrification in historically Black communities, and the resilience of Black women who are often left to fend for themselves when loss occurs.

Overall this book will leave you mesmerized with heavy thought. Morgan Jerkins created a masterpiece. Her book reminds me of Tina McElroy Ansa’s book “Baby of the Family” which also discussed a caul birth, but Jerkins goes DEEP! This book will be on my mind for a significantly long time. 5 stars.

Thank you to Libro.FM (, Morgan Jerkins, NetGalley, and Harper Books for this book in exchange for a fair and honest opinion.

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