I must admit I wasn’t the biggest fan of Empire. I became a fan of Taraji P. Henson while watching the hit series ‘Person of Interest’, where she plays Detective Jocelyn Carter and was disappointed when they (SPOILER ALERT) killed off her character. My first reaction was ‘Why not Fusco?’. Anyway, I didn’t watch ‘Empire’ until after I read Taraji’s book.
As you may know I purchased ‘Around the way GIRL’ as my first audio book on audible.com. The one thing I didn’t mention in the review for audible that I think might be a negative, is the lack of pictures. Only the book cover reflects on the download. I’m sure that Audible has the technology to add photos, at least one for every chapter. It adds to the experience.
Back to the book…
I thoroughly enjoyed the book. So much so that I started watching Empire, something hubby has tried to get me to watch for a while now. I watched the first episode, I think, about two years ago. Although I loved the opening scene and how Terence Howard’s character gets the singer to sing with more feeling, it gave me goosebumps. I never really got ‘addicted’ or felt the need to watch another episode. I silently thought ‘It’s just another ghetto movie with baby momma drama’.
The book consists of 14 very entertaining, yet heartfelt chapters. I absolutely love the sound of her voice, she is an excellent narrator. Her words and tone guides your imagination and leaves you wanting more.
Taraji Henson captured my attention after the first few sentences. In Chapter 1: Fearless, she shares intimate memories of her father. A man most knew as a drunk, who was mentally and physically abusive to her mother during their relationship. With all the negative attributes that Taraji confirms to be true, we would not imagine that she could have anything positive to say about her father…but, she does. She sings his praises throughout the book. My favourite memory that she shares of her father is one that takes place at an ‘exclusive swimming club in Capital Hill’. Her parents had already separated, but her father and his family ensured that Taraji was able to take part in extra curricular activities, including swimming lessons. As Taraji tells it, every weekend her mom would dress her up in a cute little bikini, covered by a stylish outfit matched by an even more stylish hairstyle. She would arrive at her swimming lessons as if she was eager to get herself wet and enjoy the water, but as soon as she would get to the pool area she would take off, running and screaming avoiding the ‘liquid grave’. She thrived off the attention and admits to being manipulative and dramatic for no reason. From the stories shared, she definitely is her father’s daughter. The instructors tried to convince Taraji to get in the water, even if she only put her feet in…but she refused. Every week her mom would take her and every week she’d perform her antics. Until one day, without her knowledge, her dad pitched at the pool side. As she made her first lap around the pool, running and screaming, her dad appeared. I can just imagine the look on little Taraji’s face! He picked her up by her arm and gave her a proper scolding; ‘You’re going to sink or swim, do or die, but what you’re not going to do is run around here acting crazy like somebody’s out to kill you.’ After a good tongue lashing, he picked her up by her arm and threw her into the water. Dispite the awkward silence and looks of horror on the other parents’ faces, her father didn’t care. ‘He zeroed in on her non-sense’. Just there, Taraji P Henson learnt to swim. Now of course Taraji tells it better with her one-liners and referring to her dad as Shaft 2.0 or the next ‘black superhero’.
Taraji had me in stitches. How do people think of these things?
She also shared intimate details of her love life, being a single mom and having to balance her work and personal life. What I enjoyed most about the book is that she keeps it real.
I would clean the house and put the audio book on speaker. I’d find myself ‘talking to Taraji’ as if she was chilling with me. ‘That ain’t good’, ‘Oh hell no!’ or ‘You shouldn’t have done that’ I would comment. I’m not one to laugh out loud but boy, did I laugh out loud while listening to this book.
The book is well rounded. There are times, like the swimming episode, that has you balling with laughter and then there’s chapters when you can’t help but shed a tear, like when her dad passes away, or the time she couldn’t make it to a cousin’s funeral due to her filming schedule.
She also shares the struggles in her career. From giving teachers a mouthful, because they expected more from her, to being fooled thinking that she landed a major role, only to find out she had been cast as an extra. Hell, she even tells of how being an extra was the highlight of her career, at some point.
It’s possible that I enjoyed the book even more so because I feel that I share some similarities with the author. I’m not a single mom and I don’t come from a single mom household, but I do come from the Cape Flats. I know what it’s like to want to not let where you come from determine where you are going. The type of sacrifices that it takes and how easily you can be distracted from your goal. You definitely need to surround yourself with people that will hold you to your promises and remind you of what you have set out to do.
There is no way for me to explain this book, that will do it justice. The best way for you to find out what I’m talking about is to read it.