There are no tropes or platitudes here; Allen exhibits the same assertiveness and transparency that she showed in her previous books ... In Fruit Punch, her vulnerability is particularly palpable ... Inhabiting her younger mind, Allen writes as a witness to the myriad ways in which the adults responsible for her well-being failed her ... Allen homes in on the right of a child to mistrust the whole world as she hurtles toward adulthood ... Complete with ’90s-baby cultural references to Morgan Freeman and Mary J. Blige, the book is a reading experience all its own, holding the reader at an emotional distance, even as it stings. Its fire may be unrelenting, but readers should push themselves to take the heat.
Allen bestows a fresh literary voice on this memoir filled with humor, honesty, and thought-provoking truth ... As she analyzes the interactions around her, Allen develops feminist values that are concrete and drenched with meaning. Allen’s fellow millennials especially will appreciate her nostalgic references; all readers will enjoy Allen’s intimate writing and the wit she weaves in between epiphanies. With admirable and inspiring vulnerability, Allen brings readers along in her journey to understand her very makeup. Life doesn’t grant happy endings, she reminds us; but rather a revolving door of growth and self-reflection.
... reads like a stream of consciousness work of her child-self, grasping at concepts just beyond her understanding but processing them as best she can as she grows. She reacts to the adults around her and describes traumatic events from her childhood in ways that a child would, making the reader not quite recognize what has happened until the realization drops suddenly. The point-blank observations of her younger self cut to the core with their honesty. The memoir is not told chronologically but builds circularly, revealing more of the writer and her background from different angles. It’s a penetrating look at life with divorce, sexual assault, crushes, family strife, and school drama all factoring in. The conversational tone, with poetic cadences, help the reader quickly engage and understand the writer’s background and culture ... This memoir is troubling and difficult at times, but also candid and familiar. Recommended for general collections.
... wholly original and unsparing ... Allen’s prowess comes through in her blunt rendering of the powerlessness she struggled against as a Black woman navigating race and sexuality in the South ... Throughout, Allen’s voice is distinct and brash ... Indeed, the narrative rarely lets up in its frank or discomfiting depictions, but it yields a refreshingly authentic look at what it means to create oneself in a contradictory world.
... unflinching ... Throughout, the author uses prose inventively, employing vernacular language, nontraditional line breaks, nonlinear chronology, and deliberate obfuscation about her age ... Allen’s rendering of the material is visceral and unique, and her insights are powerful. Sometimes, however, the framing device of the therapy sessions has the unintended effect of highlighting how certain passages are more confessional than narratively compelling ... A piercing coming-of-age narrative from an original voice.