TW: domestic abuse, addiction, depression, suicide
I loved reading Tan’s memoir Naturally Tan just a couple of weeks ago but I had completely forgotten that Karamo’s memoir was already out until I saw his interview with Trevor Noah. And I think I did the perfect thing deciding to listen to the audiobook because this was a wonderful experience.
As the title suggests, this book is Karamo’s story of personal growth, healing and hope. It’s not told in a clearly chronological manner but each chapter deals with a different topic/issue that he has had to deal with in his life and his experiences overcoming them while growing up. In line with his personality and messaging on Queer Eye, he is very honest and open about many things that happened in his past, the mistakes that he made and how he challenged himself to become a better version of himself. He is candid about many different topics – feeling othered, colorism within the Black community, his relationship with the church and God, his struggle with addiction and depression, domestic partner abuse, fatherhood and finding his path in life. I was actually very surprised by how much detail he went into, especially about his addiction, suicidal thoughts and his abusive behavior towards his partners, but I think the way he learnt from his mistakes and decided to change himself is a good lesson for everyone struggling with similar issues.
His chapter on fatherhood is probably the most profound one in the book. It’s probably unimaginable to understand what he must have felt when he suddenly found out he had a child, but the way he handled it with an open mind and lots of love is wonderful to read. It’s also possibly the most transformative moment in his life because he decided to model a better behavior for his children so that they had a better role model in their father than he himself did. His emphasis on being a loving but disciplined parent and encouraging his kid’s dreams without judging them is definitely something all parents can agree with or atleast aspire to be like. His chapter on his relationship with his fiancé is quite lovely and adorable and I can’t wait to see what a spectacle his wedding is going to be.
On the show, he obviously is famous for being the one who makes everyone cry and this book gives us a better insight into why that is and where he is coming from. Despite his struggles, he has never lost hope and optimism and I think his social worker and psychotherapist background plays a major part in that. And even though he can come across as preachy sometime, his messages are quite relevant to everyone. His emphasis on being an empathetic listener and being open to learn is something that we can all benefit from. On the other hand, the way he talks about himself is also a great message. I love how he doesn’t hesitate from talking about his dreams and aspirations and how confident he is that he will be able to find a way to make them a reality. But the one take away that I took from this book is how important it is to be able to express and understand our feelings and emotions, and how not having the right vocabulary to do so can affect our mental health.
Finally, I obviously recommend this book to anyone who loves Queer Eye and wants to know more about Karamo. Do keep in mind that this is a book about his life experiences and the show forms just one chapter in it. This is a book about healing, learning, being a better person and following the dreams and I’m sure everyone will find something in here to relate to or learn from. I listened to the audiobook and I highly recommend it because it phenomenal and he brings a lot of heart and soul into the narration.