Don’t Cry for Me by Daniel Black (Author & Narrator)

Published February 1st 2022 by Harlequin Audio

4.5 Stars:

I read this book in February for Black History month, but it has taken some time to put my thoughts into words. First I want to say, this is not a book I would normally have picked up. I am a 60 something, straight, white female, as far from Jacob and Isaac as you could possibly get. I am going to try and do this book justice.

Jacob is dying and there are things he wants his son Isaac, who he hasn’t spoken to in many years, to know. Through letters he shares stories about his ancestral legacy in rural Arkansas that extends back to slavery, secrets from Jacob’s tumultuous relationship with Isaac’s mother and the shame he carries from the dissolution of their family and tragedies that informed Jacob’s role as a father and his reaction to Isaac’s being gay. These letters take us on an exploration of a father’s tumultuous and traumatic past that made him the man that he is today. Jacob leaves everything out on the table, hoping his son Isaac will find it in him to forgive him for his hurtful actions and words.

I was pulled into this book’s exploration of a father struggling to accept his gay son, failing to be a better parental figure, and being too late to make amends. Despite the heavy subjects, the book was a surprisingly easy and quick read because of the casual writing style. It made me reflect on my years of parenting and how my upbringing affected my decisions, thus enabling me to see Jacob’s story in a somewhat understanding way. Seeing how Jacob just struggled to survive shines a light on his life and roles of husband and father. I liked gaining insight into this man’s life, where I could experience his regrets and loneliness over the years. I think just about anyone can relate to this book on some level; we have all made mistakes and poor choices which we regret and desperately wish we could change. While I cringed many times at Jacob’s behavior (especially his homophobic words and actions towards his son), I did want to forgive him as he tried to make peace with Isaac. While I do wish there was more “forgive me” and less “let me explain”, I found this to be a powerful listening experience. The audiobook was narrated by the author, Daniel Black. I find when an author narrates their own work, it adds more emotion and expression to the story as they know how they want to portray the events and characters. This was a powerful, heart-wrenching, and beautiful listening experience and I definitely recommend this book, especially on audiobook format.