Letters to a Young Brother by Hill Harper.

I have a sort of vested interest in Letters to a Young Brother because Al is turning 10 this month and I’m always on the lookout for good books that can offer advice or insight or both into growing up. Hill Harper is a Harvard Law graduate, as well as a Hollywood actor, so I had no idea what to expect, with the exception of the well publicized celebrity letters addressing letters from a “young brotha” who represents questions he has received from, well, young brothers. They come from notables including Sanaa Lathan, Charles Ogletree, Jerry Bruckheimer, Gabrielle Union and Barak Obama. I just hoped that I wouldn’t be bored between letters. I wasn’t.
It follows a year in the life of “young brotha“, who Harper takes in as a mentee, and covers his intial questions about the importance of hard work and good grades now, furthering his education, financial matters, and romantic relationships. Young brotha makes mistakes, and Harper admonishes these actions in a very real way that is tempered with concern. Harper also takes “young brotha” on a journey of his life, the good, the bad, and the truly ugly. There is much more to this man’s life than the ivy league, movie sets and CSI New York.
Every young male of color and every young male in this country who is navigating the choppy waters of adolescence should read this book. Every parent/guardian should read it first. I say that because while the book is an outstanding guide in and of itself, it is presented in a way that begs for discussion (the chapter on relationships alone – he kept it VERY real), which is a great opportunity to integrate individual family values. There are things in the financial section, not to mention the section on setting and completing goals, that can be used by many, many adults.
The only thing that didn’t sit completely right with me about the book was the use of very current street slang. I know that young people use it a lot, but I thought that it underestimated the reader’s intelligence. It also sets the book up to appear incredibly dated in the future, although its lessons are timeless.

4 thoughts on “Letters to a Young Brother by Hill Harper.

  1. I’m getting this for my nephew and for my cousin. I think this book should be required reading for all young black men.

  2. I’m getting this for my nephew and for my cousin. I think this book should be required reading for all young black men.

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