Around the Way Girl: A Memoir by Taraji P. Henson

Having a private life in the public eye is a feat for the ages, but Taraji P. Henson has done it. Although I’ve recognized her face in blockbusters for nearly half of my life, this memoir proves that I hardly knew her.

I didn’t know she was from Washington D.C. or that she was a single mother. Nor did I know anything about her parents or her rising star. The amount of things I didn’t know about Henson totaled this incredible book.

But I found her insights inspiring and wise. While trying to break into Hollywood, going from audition to audition, Henson was raising a son on her own in Los Angeles. Not only was she juggling a world of responsibility, but she was also fighting against the cinematic mold. Women had to be thin, white, and honestly, pretty boring to make it big. Henson is entirely herself. She is entirely against the mold.

And she made it. She raised a son in a racist world, beat the statistics of single mothers, and thrived in an industry of constant failure. Without revealing too many of her insights and successes, I do want to summarize that Henson had as many tragedies in her life as successes. A balance like that is still an unfair charge at times.

If you’re an artist, a mother, an activist, if you’re whoever or whatever, reading this memoir would be a useful tool in one’s arsenal. Henson offers understanding and sympathy, strength and anger, severe sadness and nostalgia for the times we once had. The lessons she had to learn, the lessons she had to teach her son, the situations she needed to change, so much of her uphill battle was a symptom of the racism in this world. The fact of the matter is now and will always be that no parent should have to explain the unexplainable hatred that comes from racism to a child. But until that lesson is no longer required, we will not be clear of the disease that racism is.

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