A journalist and Black Lives Matter activist recounts his difficult adolescence in Camden, NJ, where poverty and institutional racism undergirded the violence and homophobia he faced as a young queer person determined to make his life count.
Moore displays magnificent self-reflection. He narrates his story in a looping, lyrical style that approaches complicated truths through metaphor ... Framed as a kind of investigation of home, Moore’s memoir traces the history of dispossession and displacement beneath his family’s poverty ... For Moore, these efforts often take the form of an empathy that borders on the transcendent ... No one is safe. No one is presumed neutral or innocent. The author does not presume himself to be ... He refuses to accept a narrative of victimhood—that somehow, in all the mess of it, he emerged blameless and untouched by the rigorous assault on black life.
No Ashes in the Fire: Coming of Age Black and Free in America is both psychologically astute as well as visually exceptional. The reader is in the room with Moore when his father is perpetrating intense physical abuse upon his mother. One feels every excruciating word and the thoughts of that scene linger long after the book concludes ... There are many pivotal life experiences in this impressive memoir. The poise of the author as he delineates each one with grace and clarity—qualities of immense strength shine through above all else. Each of his thoughts emphasize the import of a situation and clarify the issues involved from his perspective. And every word is carefully chosen to maximize the emotional impact on the reader. One cannot soon forget this powerful real-life story that affects myriad people in America.
In No Ashes in the Fire, Darnell Moore writes a deeply personal memoir of growing up in the cross hairs of racism and homophobia in Camden ... But despite the shocking cruelty depicted in this book, Moore also infuses the pages with great humanity — humanity capable of great horror and even greater beauty. Moore’s descriptions of parental hands that could be a source of love as well as pain reminded me of some of the most beautiful scenes in Moonlight ... The reader will arrive at the end of this book with a respect for Moore and the many levels of self-realization he has reached, excited to see his already admirable career as a writer.