Fire Shut Up in My Bones by Charles M. Blow
Publisher : Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Available : September 23, 2014
Review written by : Kristie Hendricks
Fire Shut Up in My Bones explores the complexities of sexuality, race, and poverty in our society from the unique mosaic of the individual. With the same concise and powerful writing of his columns, Charles M. Blow paints his childhood, raw and real, from a voice aware and analytical in good measure. He makes Gibsland, Louisiana and his personal pain utterly accessible.
Mostly, the memoir focuses on the long lasting affects of sexual abuse. Just as in Jeremiah 20:9 from which the title is derived, the feelings inside of Blow concerning his sexuality were like a fire and we can look to the end of the passage for more insight, “I am weary of holding it in; indeed I cannot” (Jeremiah 20:9, NIV). However, the size of the book is not proportional to the issues explored within. Blow packed efficiently and fully; he impressively describes life’s complexities with ease and does not take liberties to leave any person described as simple. In few words and in a magnificent way, he illustrates each person for their individual strengths, weaknesses, actions: real people cannot fit perfectly into societal molds.
The loneliness and confusion of young Blow came from a fear of what he was, in severe contrast from his present acceptance of who he is. The first is an outsider’s perspective, the latter is his own. He demonstrates with his own life that overused but underachieved saying: be true to yourself. Blow embraces his beginnings, which were poverty stricken and hard, but full of lessons and love. His story’s ending is his success, which he must realize, yet it is not the focus. The focus of the book is the journey to self-discovery.
The narration includes Blow’s adult reasoning and complete thoughts without interrupting or overshadowing the journey of suffering, isolation, and insecurities endured in his youth. The memoir is a strong guide for anyone who has struggled to find comfort in their skin. It is a powerful confrontation of a haunting past leading from confusion to confidence, anger to awareness, and pain to peace.