Straight Hood

by Allan Brentt Hood

"I’ve known some of the most physically beautiful people who behave in the ugliest manner in every other way."

This collection of autobiographical anecdotes and musings has the author describing his experiences as part of black, urban culture—both the good and the bad. Starting in the author’s youth, the first story details an experience in which his parents came home from out of town earlier than expected, and he and his friends were caught smoking marijuana. The stories fast-forward through experiences in which he begins to sell weed but ends up smoking from his own supply, getting him in trouble. Eventually the author faces and conquers his addiction, detailing the struggle of going clean with the help of religion and family. He still has to deal with a society that judges him on the color of his skin or the women who date him.

The author’s voice is authentic and reading the book feels more like sitting down with Hood to listen to the story of his life instead of reading an account of his actions. The overall message is uplifting without being preachy: Readers will see the author at his lowest or most foolish before he relates that moment to the moral of that particular short story, adding the weight of experience behind each one. The context of these stories is usually an urban environment, but the lessons are applicable regardless of location or station in life. That the author can share the wisdom he has learned without coming off as condescending or holier-than-thou is this book’s principal strength.

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