Not From Here-Allan G. Johnson
Johnson explores what home and identity really mean.
I was so pleasantly surprised by this book. At first, when I looked closer at the blurb after picking it up properly, I was a bit disappointed-a straight white male struggling with identity? Really? Isn’t that like…culture? This was a knee jerk reaction from a person classified as ‘other’ with regularity. I’m aware that Johnson was unaware of me judging him so quickly but I want to apologize anyway.
This is a well crafted and extremely thoughtful memoir. Johnson doesn’t shy away from the hard aspects of being identified as white (i.e. the complicated feelings about immigrants who made a life on land that was cleared for them) but doesn’t rely solely on the white man’s burden. He is, throughout the memoir, clearly making strange decisions through grief and the writing meanders and goes off into tangents but his main struggle is a relatable one-how can we truly understand another human being, history? His search for a place to place his father is his attempt at this and along the way, he learns more about himself. Johnson writes well and emotionally while refusing to accept simple explanations or reasons for anything. He is always examining concepts and feelings from multiple angles-fully embracing the complexity of lived experience and the ways that the dead and the living are interconnected.