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Canadian Book Clubs Discussion Forum » General Discussion » Manchild in the Promised Land « Previous Next »

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Posted on Sunday, July 22, 2001 - 8:41 pm:   

Boy, this question takes me back to a time long ago and a land far way. I know that that old phrase about "a book that changed my life" can be over-used if not abused. But Manchild... is the only one of how many thousands of books that I have read in my life that I would credit with changing the way I look at the world in a really substantive way.

I don't recall seeing or hearing much about this book since I first read it, and I have never felt inclined to go back and re-read it (just in case I was disappointed). No doubt I just happened to read it at a "formative" time in my life. I was fifteen years old, a white middle-class male teenager growing up comfortably in Canadian suburbia and wondering what all the ruckus was about out in the streets. (It was 1970, I think.)

Manchild opened my eyes to the lived realities of racism, poverty, and oppression. I knew all the liberal theories (Kennedy, King, Trudeau), but this book was not about theories or political analysis. This was the story of a boy's struggle to survive the ghetto and build a meaningful life, against all odds. It touched me deeply and forever: I have been an "activist" of sorts ever since. And a few months back (at a ripe old age of 46) when I dashing about the streets of Quebec City surrounded by rubber bullets and teargas I did at one time pause amongst the mayhem to muse if I would have been there if instead of Manchild, I had read The Hobbit or perhaps Catcher in the Rye instead.
Posted on Thursday, July 05, 2001 - 11:03 am:   

Has anyone read this book and, if so, what do you think of it?

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