80's Baby by Derrick Fuller

80's Baby

True Story
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KIRKUS REVIEW

Fuller recounts the violent and harrowing incidents of his youth in this debut memoir.

Growing up in poverty in Wilmington, Delaware, and Chester, Pennsylvania, Fuller encountered his fair share of destructive characters. Unfortunately, many of them were people charged with his safety. During his childhood, his mother’s boyfriend forced his younger brother to stand in a bathtub of scalding water, an event that left his feet scarred for life. His mother became a heroin addict and used the kitchen of their small apartment as a shooting gallery for a cast of undesirable characters. For a time, he lived with an emotionally abusive aunt who sent him to a day camp, where he was molested by a camp worker (“The fact of me being molested has shaped my attitude towards male figures in my life,” Fuller writes. “I run away from male companionship....Just the word companionship attached to a man is too much for me”). Bouncing around between houses, family members, and group homes, Fuller witnessed a lot of incidents that eroded whatever faith he may have had in authority. This all formed a prelude to what would happen once he became an “adult”: “In Wilmington, DE, 1996 - saw the most shootings ever in one year with 186. I happened to be among those that were caught up doing time as a result of that violent year.” Fuller’s writing style is highly conversational, which makes it readable but also gives it an unedited, disorganized feel. A huge fan of the hyphen, he inserts it in seemingly random places throughout his prose, perhaps to represent a pause or a breath. Fuller, offering very little moralizing, relates most of his experiences with doses of humor and few claims of epiphany. While he starts each chapter with an inspirational quote—sometimes quoting himself—the text is not quite motivational. Fuller, now a parent and college graduate, managed a successful transformation, but the reader walks away with the sense that luck has much more to do with life’s outcomes than hard work or drive. The book works best as a document of a difficult journey, one to which many readers may not relate: a litany of all those things that the author needed to overcome just to survive to adulthood.

An idiosyncratic but compelling coming-of-age memoir.

Pub Date: Feb. 25th, 2014
ISBN: 978-1-63187-654-7
Page count: 410pp
Publisher: Speedy Publishing
Program: Kirkus Indie
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