Broome's early years growing up in Ohio as a dark-skinned Black boy harboring crushes on other boys propel forward this debut. His recounting of his experiences reveal a perpetual outsider awkwardly squirming to find his way in. Indiscriminate sex and escalating drug use help to soothe his hurt, young psyche, usually to uproarious and devastating effect.
Broome refuses to pare down his interrogation of manhood, and he offers up his own life as a window, writing with lyricism, vividness and unflinching honesty as he ushers readers through the stages of his becoming ... his writing is as lucid, heart-rending and, on occasion, hilarious, as it is necessary ... Broome exposes with elegiac detail the malaise that eats away at Black boys because of the pressures they face to become the ideal image of manhood — even if the consequence of that refashioning is the annihilation of Black boys’ spirits ... feels like a gift. There will come a day when some Black child like Tuan will have read Broome’s masterwork and possibly commit to staying alive because of Broome’s words. They will tell him that Punch Me Up to the Gods is a testament to the insurgent and ineradicable power of Black queer being. That it reveals that Black queer men are our own best creations.
... reads as a series of essays in which voice, time, and even point of view shift in service of evocative, unflinching storytelling ... Broome deftly weaves humor and heartbreak ... While Broome’s lived experiences are uniquely his, Punch Me Up to the Gods is a compelling and consequential read for anyone who has ever felt deeply different and alone.
Brian Broome loses no time establishing his bona fides as the most fearless of memoirists who is capable of such magic ... Broome gets to work putting himself on the witness stand of his own life, where the obligation to tell the truth produces harrowing testimony that makes our ears bleed at times ... Punch Me Up to the Gods delivers disturbing scenes of both racism in a rural Ohio and the homophobic bullying he faced at home from his unemployed father and others ... In tales laced with droll humor and stoicism that would be impossible for most people to generate under the circumstances, we follow Broome’s increasingly desperate attempts to fit into whatever scene would be willing to have him ... Whether describing the accidental burning down of his childhood home or a savage beating by his father when he is caught playing with dolls in his sister’s room, Punch Me Up to the Gods is full of narrative complexity and richness.