Life’s Scars and Wisdom
by Devangeo Hicks
Writers' Branding

"As we stood and listened to them call our names, I couldn’t believe that this moment was actually happening."

A child born into extreme conflict conquers his fear and frustration to achieve a significant life goal. As a toddler, Hicks was present along with his older brother when his insanely furious father senselessly shot and killed his mother and, minutes later, shot himself in the head. Hicks was then raised by his loving, strong-willed grandmother, whom he called Mama. She had raised other grandchildren and developed a special attachment to the little boy. Through her example and his own self-acquired inner resilience, he struggled but hung on in school and social situations.

On the first day of preschool, he screamed at the sight of so many unknown children, having no experience of such a public environment. In later grades, he suffered from being bullied, partly owing to his social ineptitude and probably also to the horrific memories imprinted from his early childhood. He responded by utilizing his penchant for speaking out, and even cautiously befriending another outcast—a girl who, like himself, had trouble with school and social situations. Often he absorbed the academic material well but froze when being tested. He finished high school despite many detentions and discouragements but was deeply upset at not being able to graduate with his class because of one test score. Going to college and working on the side, he persisted, longing for the day when he would graduate with his cohort. When that day finally came, it was a crowning achievement and, he believes, will lead him on to even greater accomplishments.

Hicks has courageously composed a lively chronicle of his school years, classes, and teachers with understated humor and a gift for language and current slang that will please his youthful reading audience. He also hasn't shied away from writing about some painful intervals such as the events surrounding the illness and death of first his grandfather and then, most trying of all, of his beloved grandmother—the "rock of our family"—who passed while he was in college. She was the one person who had so often taken his side and who had been protective of him when teachers and others were cynical and offered no help. He writes candidly of other difficulties as well, including trouble finding and keeping employment to sustain him in college, conflicts with teachers often arising from Hicks' outspoken manner, and his awkwardness with girls. Throughout these trials, the author maintained a basic faith in God and was blessed with the support of a female cousin who attended college with him.

Owing to a bold writing style that shows Hicks' talent in storytelling, the reader will ache with the young man's setbacks and admire his repeated rise to challenges, recognizing that his early traumas, even if not fully understood by one so young, could have turned him in a far different direction. However, throughout it all, he maintained a decent moral stance and showed his inner strength by conquering the recurrent temptation to give up on completing his education. Hicks' book can serve as an encouragement to others who may be facing similar barriers and seeking the power to overcome them.

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