'Unbearably moving' Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
The story of a young man's coming of age, a tender tribute to a life lost, and a devastating analysis of a broken system.
Aged 15 and living in LA, Michael Allen was arrested for a botched carjacking. He was tried as an adult and sentenced to thirteen years behind bars. After growing up in prison Michael was then released aged 26, only to be murdered three years later.
In this deeply personal yet clear-eyed memoir, Danielle Allen reconstructs her cousin's life to try and understand how this tragedy came to pass. We get to know Michael himself through the eyes of a devoted relative, moving from his first steps to his first love through to the day of his arrest, his coming of age in prison, and his attempts to make up for lost time after his release. We learn what it's like to grow up in a city carved up by invisible gang borders; and we learn how a generation has been lost.
With honesty and insight, Cuz circles around its subject, exposing it from all angles to reveal the shocking reality of a broken system. The result is a devastatingly powerful yet reasoned tribute to a life lost too soon.
'The book pleads with us to find the moral imagination to break the American pattern of racial abuse. Allen's ambitious, breathtaking book challenges the moral composition of the world it inhabits by telling all who listen: I loved my cousin and he loved me, and I know he'd be alive if you loved him, too' Kiese Laymon
The genius of Cuz lies in its willingness to accept what isn’t known about Michael … Her memoir defies genre and expectation … Cuz is a literary miracle of form and content ... Allen’s ambitious breathtaking book challenges the moral composition of the world it inhabits by telling all who listen: I loved my cousin and he loved me, and I know he’d be alive if you loved him, too
[Cuz] will stay with you for a long time ... Moving, tender, angry, insightful, this is a damning incitement of how the system fails to treat people as humans, at how gang culture affects families, and a look at how love can blind people and have terrible consequences.
Cuz will break your heart. Of the recent books that have done so much against such great odds to create a meaningful anti-incarceration movement in America, it may be the most compelling ... Danielle Allen brilliantly and searingly lays all of this out ...remarkable.
I can only stand in awe of Cuz’s account of her, Micheal’s and their family’s ordeals.