Wade explores his journey through crime, punishment, and redemption in this debut motivational memoir.
The author started selling cocaine at age 15. A poor kid growing up in San Francisco’s Sunnydale projects, he saw it as one of the few lucrative employment options available to him. “Instead of leaving school with biology books,” Wade remembers, “I had a brick of cocaine and a 9-millimeter pistol in my backpack.” The author spends the first third of the book describing his life as a young drug dealer, from riding around in a $400 to $500 car with $50,000 in the back seat to landing in juvenile hall—referred to as “Gladiator School”—to escaping from two kidnappers who snuck up and placed a shotgun barrel on his neck. Wade only fully grasped the consequences of his actions when, at 29, he was sentenced to 14 years in prison. That’s when his real story began: more than a decade’s worth of self-examination and self-improvement that led to a profound transformation. From a drug dealer who spent seven years on the FBI’s wanted list, Wade reformed himself into the executive director of a nonprofit organization, a guest lecturer at Stanford Law School and UC Berkeley, and a reflective memoirist: “I offer my counter narrative to many of the common conceptions that some people have about drug dealers, people who go to prison, and people who grow up in the inner city.” Wade is a natural raconteur, and his account of his life both before and during his time in prison makes for compelling reading. His post-prison success is remarkable, and while some of the lessons he wishes to impart read as standard motivational fare, his musings on the ways in which criminals are treated in this country—and the ways in which disadvantaged youth are tempted into crime—are worthy of consideration. The author manages to embody both the successes and failures of the American experience, and in his life the reader gets the opportunity to consider who society deems deserving of punishment and who remains worthy of rehabilitation.
An engaging work by a drug dealer turned advocate.