From Publishers Weekly
Though journalist Wolff may have helped shape this memoir, its voice is all Diallo's. But the event that forced her into the media spotlight, the 1999 shooting of her son Amadou by four New York City police officers in front of his apartment building, doesn't appear until nearly the end, and many readers will find themselves wishing she'd written more about her interactions with high-powered African-American activists like Reverend Al Sharpton and Johnnie Cochran during the frustrated efforts to get justice for Amadou's death. The story Diallo does tell, however, effectively demolishes the simplistic portrayal of Amadou by the media and reveals his mother's fascinating life. Diallo recalls her village childhood, with West Guinea's political turmoil and intertribal warfare as a constant backdrop, in vivid detail but with great subtlety. Given away in marriage at age 13, she never relinquished her independence, raising the children alone while her husband worked abroad. She dwells lovingly on Amadou's childhood and the way, as a young adult, he looked out for his younger siblings. She re-creates the life he had begun to build for himself in America, working at a Manhattan convenience store and coming home to the apartment he shared with fellow immigrants in the Bronx, before it was cut short. Though readers might have expected to hear more about Amadou's slaying and its aftermath, Diallo's determination and survivor's instinct are powerful inspirations in their own right. Photos not seen by PW.
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Diallo, mother of the West African man slain by New York police in a barrage of bullets in 1999, offers a powerful story of her life and that of her son. Diallo was a driven young Guinean woman in a traditional culture that demands the obedience and submission of women. At 13 she was given away in marriage to a businessman who promised to continue her education. But she found herself isolated from her family, giving birth at 16 to her first child, Amadou. She recounts the rocky years of her marriage, spent traveling through Africa and Asia, driven away by political instability and her husband's business pursuits. She eventually established herself as a gem merchant in Thailand and raised her children there. Amadou, born with an old soul, grows into a gentle, introspective young man, who realizes his fascination with America by moving to New York at the age of 20. Diallo recalls the last days of her son's life and the horrifying shooting by New York police that led to her crusade to promote racial healing. Vanessa BushCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved