Making Michael Arceneaux's I Don't Want to Die Poor required reading in high schools across the country would help a lot of young people think twice about the promise that going to college at any cost is the only path to upward social mobility ... Throughout all of it, [Arceneaux] retains a dark sense of humor and the idea that there is something better out there, something he will achieve through hard work ... The thing that makes I Don't Want to Die Poor an outstanding read is Arceneaux's voice. He writes like he's telling you, his friend, a story ... For Arceneaux, life hasn't been easy, and his writing shows that. Luckily for readers, every painful detail he shares is balanced out by a superb critique, a masterful turn of phrase, a funny use of popular culture or a couple of sentences that cut to the bone of a social issue and expose the core of it with unbending honesty ... Heartbreaking, hilarious, unapologetic and smart, this collection of essays shows a talented young voice that can attack racist nonsense while discussing The Real Housewives of Atlanta. It's also a warning to future generations and a literary hug to those who have fallen into the unforgiving claws of student loan debt.
Journalist and cultural critic Arceneaux...offers another unflinchingly smart and wickedly funny collection of essays ... Arceneaux’s writing is meticulously researched, gut-bustingly funny, and rich with niche cultural references ready to surprise and delight his audiences at every turn.
...at its best when Arceneaux discusses the day-to-day travails of struggling with the debt burden ...I Don’t Want to Die Poor is not without its flaws. It has its clumsy patches, and the book is full of slang and pop culture references which make it very much of the moment, but which may not age well. Arceneaux also points out that he knows the book will attract criticism from those who think he should have made other, less expensive choices in the past. That brand of criticism is precisely the point: I Don’t Want to Die Poor is an excellent critique of the way that our society encourages people to try for more, and then punishes them for doing so.