This is the memoir of a person who was born into extreme poverty, and who never let go of his life-long dream of becoming a lawyer.
The author was born in a ramshackle house in the backwoods of Tennessee. Part of a large family, the children helped out in the garden, or spent their days in the local woods hunting and looking for edible plants. Mom was the rock that held the family together. Dad worked occasionally; the rest of the time he was drunk, abusive or absent. Nearby relatives were a big help.
The family was forced to move every few months, because Dad had no intention of paying rent on whatever run-down house they were occupying. As the "new kid" in school, Wallace attracted the attention of the local bullies in whatever school he was attending. He got a reputation as someone who was not afraid to fight; he knew that "not fighting" was not an option.
As a young boy, one night, he received an overwhelming feeling of total peace and total love, maybe from God. He also received the words "everything will be all right," which has been his mantra ever since. The family spent his high school years in a government-run housing project. All-night drunkenness and violence were common. Wallace was "invited" several times to take part in fights where his physical survival was not a sure thing.
After a couple of detours, he received his GED, and enrolled in the University of Wisconsin. An academic miscalculation caused him to be drafted into the Army. Instead of going to Vietnam, he was a Company Clerk (like MASH's Radar O'Reilly) in Korea. Returning home, he got a decent job with a company that eventually sent him to their Atlanta office. He finished his college education, and found a small law school nearby. Did he hold on to his dream of becoming a lawyer? Does he succeed in becoming a lawyer?
No matter how bad a person's personal situation is, everyone has two choices. The first choice is to wallow in alcohol, violence and dead-end jobs, blaming "the man" for your plight. The second is to get your high school education, get a good job with some sort of future, or go to college, and then get a good job with some sort of future. Many people, including several of the author's siblings, chose the first route. If this book can get just a couple of people to see that there is an alternative to their current situation, it will have done its job. It is highly recommended.
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