Akilah Hughes' Obviously is an insightful read that's at turns hilarious and heartbreaking.
It takes a certain amount of life experience and panache to write a memoir before you turn 30, and Hughes has both in spades.
Akilah Hughes is an entertainer who grew up Black in the south. Her essays explore themes as diverse as Kentucky's education system, anxiety, her beef with the only other famous Akilah, and her YouTube-launched career.
This book was published in early 2019, so it's both refreshingly free of pandemic references and full of humor and heart.
In a fantastic assortment of essays, Hughes reflects on her Kentucky upbringing, expectations of life in New York City, and female friendship.
"So much of my life has been defined by the moments I was underestimated, abandoned, and had to wipe the tears and put on the big-girl smile and shine despite the bullshit. I used to think that was fake. I used to think that it was braver to fight and fight and fight, but what I'm learning is that all we have are our intentions and ourselves. People can do with them what they choose, but how can I feel down when I know that I have moved with nothing but love and honesty? How can the disdain of others affect me in any way if they've never given me anything in the first place?"
One of my favorite essays is entitled "Internet Person," which recounts the absolutely wild world of using a school's computer lab in the mid to late 1990s. She describes becoming mildly obsessed with Neopets in fourth grade and creating an alter ego which she used to explore the new universe of the Internet.
If you come for the humor, you will stay for the shrewd observations of entertainment and culture. Hughes describes working at Disney, traveling by bus, and living in Obviously 2 Kentucky as a young Black child.
This is a phenomenal book to make you think, make you laugh, and make you consider the experiences of others. It's an excellent choice for the young people in your life, as a graduation gift or a birthday present. Akilah Hughes is the best kind of wise — the cool, older sister who dispenses thoughtful advice that will make anyone smile.