3 out of 4 stars
Share This Review
Defining Moments of a Free Man from a Black Stream is what it claims to be. Every chapter is one of the defining moments of the life of Dr. Frank L. Douglas. I won’t ruin the neat story point that starts Dr. Douglas' identifying himself as: “a free man from a black stream.” However, I will say that he is a neat character to get to know, and he has done a lot. In fact, much of his story makes me think of Forrest Gump, except that hard work put Dr. Douglas in every situation he found himself in and I’ll dare to say a sprinkle of divine intervention worked in his favor too. For example, one special moment in this book brought Dr. Douglas into the presence of Nelson Mandela himself, to present a grant. This is extra exciting because Mr. Mandela seems to be a hero of his in an earlier part of the story.
This book is written for all as its audience. Much of it is a look at American racism, but it comes from the viewpoint of an outsider from Africa. Of course, an outside viewpoint is often the most objective. Dr. Douglas builds objectivity credits by showing a series of wrongs that he witnessed. His childhood wasn’t the happiest with an environment where his light-skinned sister was often the favorite child. He was also discriminated against when starting to attend Queens College. For some reason, one of his teachers felt that a student who didn’t start attending school there during the first semester wasn’t a true student of Queens College. Then Dr. Douglas came to America and saw the need for the work of Martin Luther king Jr. Yet, he also saw those who quickly gave into to defeat, such as a student he sought to mentor who felt that his racist teacher didn’t teach to him. This student also remarked that he deserved a free grade for having slave ancestors. Dr. Douglas was even more horrified to find out that this student was skipping class. The message, that Dr. Douglas seeks to instill in his audience, is to make the world a place where all are free to work towards their dream and have equal chances of achieving it, based on their merit.
I enjoyed moments where Dr. Douglas shared some of his unique character with us. He lived by a code of honor that kept him chaste until marriage, though his Doctors refused to believe it during a trip to the hospital involving pain in the groin area. After numerous times of being asked about the last time he had sex, when his answer informed the doctors that he was engaged and hadn’t started the marriage life yet, he finally made up a fantastic tail that painted him as a womanizer. This ended the repetitive probing of his sex life. And he did it in a way that came across as proper for an, otherwise, improper topic. In fact, I didn’t encounter any cursing throughout this book.
I disliked the lack of a consistent flow in this book. There were times where the author jumped around to significant events that were skipped over earlier. It sometimes gave the impression that Dr. Douglas was a man married to his work more than his wife. It seems his career is where he felt most of his achievements were. Then, out of blue, he would married and then children appeared. A good chunk of his personal life hadn't been prepared for in previous chapters. Then the prose got technical towards the end and names were dropped that felt like the names in the end credits of a movie, which don’t mean much until you have started to follow the work of a listed name.
This book had quite a few errors, but little distracted me from the story. Most errors came out to be missing comas that would’ve helped me navigate through a sentence better. There were some words that were used in a way that native English speakers would never use, but might pass for following grammar rules. I would applaud this for a fictional character seeing it as another layer of characterization for the first-person point of view voice, so I can forgive Dr. Douglas for these errors. I felt this autobiography had a strong beginning and a well-done epilogue conclusion, but somewhere, between the two, I feel like the story could have been sculpted better out of the life events provided. Thus, I award this book 3 out of 4 stars.
Defining Moments of a Free Man from a Black Stream
View: on Bookshelves | on Amazon | on Smashwords