Open the Unusual Door: True Life Stories of Challenge, Adventure and Success by Black Americans

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Every day, each of us is presented with choices. They can be very simple ones (getting up on time, paying attention in class, volunteering to do something for the boss) or complex ones (being true to ourselves, helping someone out in a life or death situation, even to kill or not to kill someone). Our choices are what make us who we are.

In Open the Unusual Door: True Life Stories of Challenge, Adventure, and Success by Black Americans Barbara Summers has collected a series of essays that explore the choices (and the consequences thereof) of some of todays leading African Americans. These are the people that you read about every day (like Whoopi Goldberg and Colin Powell) and the ones that you would only hear about if you were involved in a certain field (like Neil de Grasse Tyson, the director of a planetarium in New York or Peter Westbrook, one of the worlds best fencers).

The things that they have in common with each other and with all of us are the extraordinary choices they have made and the doors they have opened for themselves. Each excerpt is a unique and interesting glimpse into their lives. I, for one, was very inspired by the great determination that they all show from Chamique Holsclaw and Derek Jeters dedication in sports to the intense love and devotion artists like Queen Latifah and Sister Souljah show in their chosen professions.

Whether you are black or not, young or old, interested in sports, the arts, politics&whatever you will find a story in this book that will touch you. For me, it was the essay by E. Lynn Harris, a writer. His words really meant something to me (though Im neither black nor gay). His truth came through his work and, as a writer, I know that feeling well and I try to capture it every time I write.

I highly recommend this book for readers of all ages, but especially for young African Americans. Read to find out that you are not alone. Read to find out that you do have choices, even if they arent obvious ones. Read to find out where you come from (and that goes for all of us).
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