Buck: A Memoir

Asante, MK. Buck: A Memoir. New York: Spiegel & Grau, 2013. Print. ISBN 13: 9780812993417. Hardcover. $25.00.

Annotation: This is the engaging memoir of MK Asante, a young man who grew up in inner city Philadelphia with a broken family, who skipped school, joined a gang and somehow turned out to be a celebrated professor at a university.


Growing up in Philadelphia in the nineties was no easy feat for Malo. As a teenager, he had to contend with an absent father, a manic-depressive mother, gangs, drugs, and inadequate schools. Watching his family fall apart and losing a good friend did nothing to deter Malo from becoming one of the “corner boys.” After a few encounters with the legal system, Malo’s mother enrolls him in an alternative high school. It is at this open-minded school where Malo finally recognizes his desire to become a writer and that the only person who can save him is himself.

Buck is the inspirational story of one young man’s journey and it is accessible to a wide audience of readers. Asante’s writing is compelling and his stream of consciousness style makes this memoir a fast-paced read. The creative inclusion of rap lyrics throughout the narrative provides a poetic element to the gritty tale. This memoir would do well in the teen or adult section of a library. Due to the explicit language and sexual content I would feel more comfortable recommending this title to older teens.


Sound like Malo: “Jawn” = “Jawn can mean anything – person, place, or thing.” (pg 4)

Quotables: “We all design our own reality, write our own script, build our own house…or prison…or coffin.” (pg 212)

“The blank page begs me to tell a story – dares me to tell one – one that’s never been told before, and to tell it like it will never be told again.” (pg 224)

★ Buck was a nominee in the autobiography category of the 45th Annual NAACP Image Awards. The awards celebrate the artistic accomplishments of African Americans in a variety of categories including literature, motion pictures, and television.


MK Asante’s book trailer for his riveting memoir, Buck:

MK is a tenured professor of creative writing at Morgan State University in Maryland. Visit his site here: http://mkasante.com/  and listen to an interview with him:

YOUR OPTIONS: Buck is available in print, eBook, and downloadable audio formats.

Anastasia Vito © 2014



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