Book Review: Obviously by Akilah Hughes

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Pardon me while I play with my wacom tablet which is basically me going back to my parent’s garage desktop computer with dial-up internet playing PAINT for 6 hours in a row to create mediocre pixelated art ::stretches:: all in a good day’s work.

It’s been a minute since I’ve done a book review. Remember when book reports were a thing? Honestly I wouldn’t mind doing a drawing that represents the book and leaving a few hundred words of thoughts on this one.

I’ve been in a pretty eh mood when it comes to TV and reading these day, and its been a while since I read something that spoke to me. In this desperate climate of mehness, Akilah Hughes’ new memoir “Obviously: stories from my timeline” has spoken to me and said words I am all about.

I am a huge fan of the comedian memoir genre. It’s been the only education I could get my hands on where it was people I admire saying thoughts I can access directly rather than through like an article/interview that’s really someone else’s interpretation / structured view on a person. Mindy Kaling, Ellen, Amy Poehler, Tina Fey, Miranda Hart (brown, white, white, white, white) – their books were so important to me in my mid-20’s.

Akilah’s is definitely part of my favorite collection, and of the very best written at that. It is ridiculously obvious how spectacular of a comedy writer and voice Akilah is and has on every damn page of this book. It’s not a word vomit-y, stream-of-conscious memoir. This sh*t is put together, and it made me laugh out loud at least several times, and sit in my feelings a whole lot more.

Akilah is painfully honest in the most refreshing and liberating ways. I’m like, who is this fairy sprinkling hilarious gems on acne right alongside scathing yet honestly still too forgiving reviews on her terribly racist 5th grade teacher? It’s a trip down healing, being, and growing as a complex person that I wish I had when I was 11, 12, 13, 23, and thank God I have now at 32.

I mean, seriously, can I go back in time and give this book to me at every age? It would serve as a real-a*s guide of things to come and realities that are just so lived and real? It would be way too hard for broke kid me to see this book on the shelves at the Scholastic Book Fair. You could catch me plopping down in front of the shelves reading through it for sure, ignoring the variety of candy-smelling erasers because it’s just too good. As an adult I’m tempted to go through all the Barnes and Nobles in the county and plant Akilah’s books in every department: World Religion, History, next to Shopkins, and in front of the really expensive stationary.

Because it’s deliciously crafted, this read was neither too long nor too short. I found myself picking it up at bedtime and in the morning over the course of a couple of weeks.

Some of my favorite moments were:

  • The chronicles of little Akilah wanting to be a cheerleader (but also like being one more than anyone without the credit). This is like serious cry face emoji bundles of love and also memories of just not being allowed to do sh*t as a brown person because brown.
  • All of the stories about her household dynamics, and especially the case of the Hughes’ vs. raccoons.
  • This sentence: “Birthday parties in my house were an ethnographic study into the minds of my family members.”
  • This realness: “It’s scary calling yourself a filmmaker or a writer, or anything that demands proof of skill.”
  • Her whole story about Darn which inspires me to think about who are / have been the Darn’s in my life and how can I make sure I’m not Darn’ing anyone else and looool to this pseudonym.
  • Her list of racist things people have said to her. It’s just… we need to read and know this. Required reading.
  • And when we get to this sentence…

Pizza in Kentucky sucks, but I wouldn’t really find that out until I moved to NYC and tried real pizza for the first time. It turns out, the secret ingredient is diversity.

– Akilah Hughes

… the payoff is just too good. Akilah’s memoir is available for purchase here.

Once you read it or have read it, please let me know your thoughts! It’s soooo good!

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