Book Review: Letters to a Young Brother: Manifest Your Destiny
by Hill Harper
Publication Date: Apr 19, 2007
List Price: $16.00
Format: Paperback, 176 pages
Target Age Group: Middle Grade
Publisher: Penguin Random House
Parent Company: Bertelsmann
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Book Reviewed by Kam Williams
"Young men today have been bombarded with images of wealth and success that tell them that buying the hottest car or the most bling-blingin’ jewelry is what they should be motivated by. There is an overwhelming sales pitch targeted at these young men that subliminally suggests that material goods are what makes them real men. I want young men to have knowledge of the things that bring them true empowerment: education, a strong sense of purpose, compassion, confidence, and humility, to name a few.
It is no accident that I graduated from Brown University magna cum laude and received graduate degrees with honors from Harvard Law School and the Kennedy School of Government. My family taught me that doing my best, educating myself, and being in service to others were not optional and that having values and being truthful were not negotiable.
I am living proof that these principles work. Through the letters in this book, I wish to pass on to other young men my grandfathers’ legacies of education, hard work, determination, and success."
—Excerpted from the Introduction
Lately, it seems that everyday another study is announced sharing some sobering statistics about the dire straits of the African-American male. Whether it has to do with employment, parenting, education, incarceration, or any other factors correlated with success in this society, all indications are that the black male is currently in crisis.
For this reason, Hill Harper, star of CBS-TV’s CSI: NY, was inspired to publish Letters to a Young Brother. Many might wonder what a famous actor living in la-la land might have to offer kids trying to survive the rigors of the real world. Well, many might not know that he’s also a Harvard-trained attorney with three Ivy League degrees.
Hill credits the support of his family when his it comes to all his considerable achievements, pointing out that the presence of role models every step of the way of his development was critical. And because so many black boys have absentee fathers, this book is structured as a series of questions posed by an at-risk adolescent and answered by the author in his capacity as a mentor with plenty of pearls of wisdom to share.
Hill writes in a down-to-earth style appropriate for the targeted demographic, weighing-in with sound advice on picking friends, smoking, drinking, money, consumerism, staying in school, participating in class, what women want, premarital sex, and many other topics of interest to teens. He even supplements his sage insights with those of such luminaries as actresses Gabrielle Union and Sanaa Lathan, AIDS activist Phil Wilson, Senator Barack Obama, R&B singer Ray J, tennis pro Venus Williams, football star Curtis Martin, comedian Anthony Anderson, Harvard Professor Charles Ogletree, movie producer Jerry Bruckheimer, and hip-hop artist Nas.
The prevailing message delivered by Letters to a Young Brother is that education is power, that material possessions do not ensure happiness, and the importance of being the architect of your own life. A priceless, no-nonsense, step-by-step guide out of the ghetto, provided it reaches a pair of receptive ears with a support team prepared to help him achieve his dream.
AALBC.com Review of Harper’s
Letters to a Young
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About Hill Harper is the author of the bestseller Letters to a Young Brother (Gotham Books, 2006), which won two NAACP awards and was named a Best Book for Young Adults by the American Library Association in 2007. Winner of prestigious awards for best supporting actor, he currently stars in CSI: NY, and his numerous other credits include Beloved and He Got Game. Hill graduated magna cum laude with a B.A. from Brown University and cum laude from Harvard Law School. He also holds a master’s degree from the Kennedy School of Government. He was named one of People’s Sexiest Men Alive.