Andrea reviews WHITE BOY: A MEMOIR by Tom Graves, Devault-Graves Digital Editions, 2019, 264 pages.
I picked up this non-fiction tale because the author was my Creative Writing professor in the year 2000 at my alma mater. His class was one of energy and light the semester I strapped myself down with 20 credit hours. Preparing myself to have no social life during those spring months, I considered Tom Graves’ 3 hour class my weekly dose of fun (or as close to) I was going to have. Seeing his book on the library shelf made me happy he was still writing as late as 2019, especially about the common denominator of Memphis roots we share.
Graves will be first to tell you his family was racist and bigoted, and therefore, he was equally parts of awkward, fearful, and intriqued by Blacks when he was a young boy. Being part of the 1950’s integration of his white grade school made his feelings to shift dramatically. As he got older, his intrepidation was being replaced with desire. After he bowed out of an unfulfilling marriage to a white woman, Graves followed his heart to pursue several relationships with women of other races. He even took a well-paying, but severely underfunded, job at Memphis City Schools as a middle school writing teacher and had plenty to share about those experiences.
Graves does not mince words in his autobiography, but as I have said before, he was quoting, not cursing. His story is not a funny one, but it is an adventure. For those readers who enjoy the rich, vibrant culture and history of Memphis, this narrative is one to be devoured. On the other hand, if readers want a “happily ever after,” Graves’s memoir won’t be it.