Reviews

  • "What starts as a personal memoir, an effort to resurrect from oblivion a beloved cousin who died young, modulates in Allen's hands into a cool, reasoned, but ultimately devastating indictment of the War on Drugs and the sentencing regime it has given birth to. In plain terms, stripped of the jargon of the social sciences, she shows us what awaits you if you are young, black, and unlucky in today's United States."

    J. M. COETZEE
  • "The genius of Cuz lies in its willingness to accept what isn’t known about Michael … Her memoir defies genre and expectationCuz 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"

    Kiese Laymon, Washington Post Sunday
  • "[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."

    Stylist Magazine
  • "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."

    Jim Kaplan, The National Book Review
  • "I can only stand in awe of Cuz’s account of her, Micheal’s and their family’s ordeals."

    Huffington Post
  • "Allen makes way for letters Michael wrote from behind bars. You finally see Michael then. And, as Allen said, he is beautiful ... Michael is a virtuoso of a writer, and his brilliant letters chronicle his growth from boy to man in California’s penitentiary system."

    Greg Howard, New York Times Book Review
  • "Allen’s exceptional professional accomplishments make her latest effort, a memoir about the soul-crushing murder of her beloved younger cousin Michael, all the more stirring ... a just and moving tribute to a family member she knew incompletely, but loved unfailingly ... As a memoirist, Allen is genuinely gifted."

    Los Angeles Review of Books
  • "A compassionate retelling of an abjectly tragic story […] Among the most valuable contributions Allen makes is forcing us to ask: To what end are we locking up our children? Are we not foreclosing their options before their lives have even begun? […] Allen’s analysis of gang culture […] may be where she’s at her ferocious best"

    Jennifer Senior, New York Times
  • "I was left stunned by it. Required reading."

    Sarah Shaffi, Monocle
  • "In this narrative of freedom and incarceration, education and disadvantage, rehabilitation and punishment, Danielle Allen paints an unforgettable portrait of a cousin she loved. The pacing is brisk and novelistic, but the message is large and clear: we need urgently to reform the system through which we process juveniles who commit crime, because the current system perpetuates the very injustices it was designed to address."

    ANDREW SOLOMON