The mother of the 18-year-old killed by a police officer in Ferguson, Missouri, in 2014 relates the saga of her life in the St. Louis suburb, expressing her love for her children on nearly every page.
With assistance from LeFlore, McSpadden reveals her life conversationally, including the colloquial phrasings that pepper her speech. Growing up, the author’s fascination with an older high school classmate led to pregnancy at age 15 and the birth of Michael Brown nine months later. From the start, McSpadden referred to her child as "Mike Mike" and does so throughout the memoir. Brown’s death, which gained international attention, does not become the focus until more than 200 pages in. Before that, McSpadden details her life as a black female in a sometimes-racist, sometimes-supportive metropolitan area with a longstanding reputation for unequal treatment of minorities. She offers bright portrayals of her mother and mostly undependable biological father, plus dozens of other relatives, friends, and antagonists. Determined to earn her high school diploma, McSpadden eventually had to drop out to care for Mike Mike and labor at a variety of low-wage jobs. She is frank about the domestic violence she endured at the hands of the man who fathered her first two children and another man (since murdered) who fathered her third and fourth children. Unable to find satisfactory housing arrangements, the author chronicles the dizzying number of moves within the St. Louis region, sometimes commenting on the varying levels of racial segregation in each area. Eventually, McSpadden describes the apartment complex where Mike Mike was staying with his grandmother the day of his death. Regarding the controversial shooting, the author casts doubt on the robbery report involving her son, and she suggests that Mike Mike's companion during the altercation is lying about the details. Mostly, though, she chronicles her unsuccessful quest for justice within a law enforcement culture stacked against her.
A vivid, compelling account of a life on the edge.