MAMA'S BOY by Dustin Lance Black
Kirkus Star


A Story from Our Americas
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An award-winning screenwriter’s journey from Texas Latter-day Saints roots to prominent LGBTQ activist.

At the center of this thought-provoking memoir, Black, who won an Academy Award for the screenplay for Milk, offers a heartfelt tribute to Anne, his courageously inspiring yet deeply religious and politically conservative mother. Anne was raised in an impoverished family of sharecroppers in Louisiana. After contracting polio at age 2, she suffered through years of therapy and painful surgeries, leaving her reliant on leg braces and crutches for the rest of her life. Despite these physical disadvantages, Anne went on to marry and eventually raise three children, primarily as a single mother, while building a successful career. After enduring two abusive marriages, she found sustaining love with her third husband. The author’s life story follows a parallel path of meeting obstacles through resiliency. Though he was a shy and awkward child, Anne’s examples of her strong willpower motivated Lance to reach his own challenging goals, ultimately inspiring the necessary confidence to come out to his family at age 21. Though mother and son often held firm to their conservative and liberal viewpoints, each recognized positive attributes inherent in either camp. Lance discovered common interests with some of his Texas relations, and Anne gained a more compassionate understanding of the LGBTQ community. “Our house should have been divided—North vs. South, red vs. blue, conservative vs. progressive, coasts vs. mountain or plains, or however you choose to name such tribes,” writes the author. “Instead, my mom and I fueled each other. Her oil lit my lamp, and eventually mine lit hers. The tools I learned to wield growing up in her conservative, Christian, Southern, military home were the same ones I’d used to wage battles that had taken me…to the front row of the United States Supreme Court to fight for LGBTQ equality.” Black provides a wholly engrossing account of how a mother and son evolved beyond their potentially divisive religious and political beliefs to uncover a source of strength and unity through their enduring bond.

A terrifically moving memoir of the myriad complexities of family dynamics.

Pub Date: April 30th, 2019
ISBN: 978-1-5247-3327-8
Page count: 416pp
Publisher: Knopf
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15th, 2019


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