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Raising Fences: A Black Man's Love Story

3.99  ·  Rating Details ·  389 Ratings  ·  47 Reviews
As a teenager raised in L.A.'s inner city without a father, Michael Datcher had already committed theft, learned the ways of the street, and developed a mortal fear of police. But Datcher had a dream about a very different kind of life - and a second chance to make good on a promise to himself.
Paperback, 280 pages
Published October 1st 2002 by Riverhead Books (first published October 1st 2001)
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Community Reviews

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Sep 26, 2016 Sara rated it liked it
Shelves: memoir
The coming-of-age part of this book was excellent. The author grew up poor and adopted in south Los Angeles, went to UC Berkeley, and became a writer. I savored reading about his experiences, which were so different from mine. This opened a world to me, of Black culture, that I have no experience with. The justifiable anger over the Rodney King beatings; the justifiable anger in general.

I was riveted by his relationship with Camille. But, the last third of the book was a bit boring. The author
Patrick Anthony
Dec 16, 2014 Patrick Anthony rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
Raising Fences: A Black Man's Love Story Raising Fences: A Black Man's Love Story by Michael Datcher

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Somewhere in between, at the nether, where Hip Hop inflects from the conscious brand to the New Age, ingrained with the continuum of words that heal, there has been Professor Michael Datcher. His 2002 New York Times Bestseller, Raising Fences, aptly sub-titled ‘A Black Man’s Love Story’, provided the rare opus magnum into the souls of folks, suggesting that emotional famines and towering ambitions are somehow one.
Mar 04, 2009 tamia rated it really liked it
I attempted to review this book days ago but was stumped. Not because this book was vacuous leaving me nothing to say. Rather because this story of Datcher's life, loss, and love evoked so much emotion and has far reaching implications for my, and many women's, realities.

This book made me feel so hopeful about love relationships between Black men and Black women. As a "single" Black woman in my 30's that statement is magnanimous. Just ask CNN!! Damn Datcher for bringing me "there" ...because ho
The sheer humanity of this book took me unawares. This autobiography of a black man growing up fatherless in America at the end of the last century spoke to me even though I am a white woman with an intact family. The book's descriptions of the racism that people of color live with everyday showed me how insidious this construct is in our society. Because Michael's story is also an Everyman story. He battles inner doubts, bad relationships and poor personal decisions just like all of us. He ...more
Mar 19, 2012 Marilyn rated it it was amazing
As a teenager raised in L.A.'s inner city without a father, Michael Datcher had already committed theft, learned the ways of the street, and developed a mortal fear of police. But Datcher had a dream about a very different kind of life - and a second chance to make good on a promise to himself.

This is a true story. Michael's a journalist. His writing is ... outstanding. You're right there with him. This is a very graphic book. If it were a novel, I would call it trash,'s about a real l
Jan 24, 2009 Tia rated it it was amazing
I LOVED this book! I would recommend it to everybody, especially black men. Unfortunately, I think the title may not appeal to some male readers which is a real shame. The author did an outstanding job crafting an engaging, insightful, easy read. This story takes a stereotypical situation (babymama drama) but digs so much deeper than your typical "urban tale." Pick up this book and you may find yourself rethinking your preconceived notions about men, relationships and love.
Jul 17, 2008 sydney rated it really liked it
Datcher writes about his lifelong struggle to resist fulfilling stereotypes about black men, particularly in regard to his relationships with women. He is an adopted child born out of his mother's rape, and he works to form mutually loving and respectful relationships with women, avoid becoming an absent father, and shape a personal relationship with his God. This book is an honest account of his life that doesn't make excuses for his missteps and cautiously embraces his successes.

It was illumi
Jul 27, 2011 Megan rated it liked it
Shelves: memoirs
I picked this off my dad's bookshelf, as it was a memoir, my favorite genre. Basically, it chronicles the childhood experiences of growing up in the ghetto and how Michael "got out" by having an intellect that earned him a spot in an out of town "white" school. He speaks of his fears of the ghetto and how he had to conform to fit in, what growing up with only a mom has meant to him as he develops relationships with women, and ultimately how his poetry helps him cope in pursuit of the dream life ...more
Jun 02, 2011 Tarah rated it it was amazing
This book is an extraordinary peek into one Black man's heart and soul. Recommended for Black men who think no one else "gets" it and for Black women who want to understand where some of the pain is coming from. In fact, I've bought copies for some male friends and relatives.
Datcher has loved and lost, come to the crossroads of criminal life or academia, and questioned himself along the way. He is so determined to make the right choices that you ache for any false move.
It is an amazing love sto
The Urban Book Source
Aug 08, 2012 The Urban Book Source rated it really liked it
Raising Fences, a memoir, brings you on a tour through the life of an enduring Black man, while staying clear of the pimp-esque bravado. Datcher, born to a single mother who births him after being raped, but is given up for adoption, develops an obsession of being a great husband and father early in his life. Taken through his struggles with self-identity, female relationships, financial hardships, Datcher hides nothing, and tells all. If you are looking for a book that will do away with the ...more
Feb 28, 2009 Liz rated it really liked it
I'm a complete sucker for memoir, so I really enjoyed this. It's so cool to look inside someone else's head and heart. The author, raised without a father, and in surroundings where none of his peers have visible fathers either, is determined not to have children out of wedlock. The first two thirds of the book intercuts between childhood memories and his relationship with a woman who becomes pregnant, and is quite suspenseful. The last third of the book drags a bit, but it's still worth the ...more
Dec 29, 2008 Sherri rated it really liked it
I have an older card file with books that I've read and if I liked them or not, but no review is written in it. When I pulled the card for this book out it says..."Excellent book that gives a new perspective" but for the life of me I can't remember much of the book itself. I pulled it out to refresh my memory and I recognize the cover and know I read it but I still don't remember enough to do a review. I'm not sure if that says something about the book or something about my memory! I will ...more
Mar 20, 2014 Andrewzinkle rated it liked it
This memoir was very ambitious, as Datcher had much to tell us. However, it's composition seemed forced, like a list of anecdotes relating to the central themes of the African American identity, masculinity, and fatherhood, just without any transition. Datcher's packing of key internal struggles and development did his story an injustice. With 100 more pages I would have loved to watch him delve deeper into some of his character developments. Overall, a solid read.
Kari Abdalkhallaq
Nov 29, 2010 Kari Abdalkhallaq rated it really liked it
As a Black men I could relate to this book on many levels. It brought me back to many different parts of my life. The book also served a lens through which I could currently evaluate the decisions that I am making about how to live my life right now. I would recommend it to anyone interested in getting an authentic view of the challenges and triumphs of black men in this country.
Mar 17, 2009 Kelly rated it it was amazing
I absolutely loved this book. It's a great story about believing in love, overcoming the odds, following your dreams. His dream is such a simple one -- to be a good husband and father and have a functional family -- and yet he has to overcome overwhelming odds to achieve it. I also found it fascinating and also terrible to read about what it is like for a good kid to grow up in an LA ghetto.
Tom Leland
Feb 28, 2013 Tom Leland rated it liked it
Can see why it was a best-seller. Has so much to offer virtually any black man, young or old; any young man of any color figuring out who he is on the path toward marriage; and most of all, it's yet another book where, in a fantasy world, if every white person were to read it, 95% of all racism would be wiped out.
Keelyn Healy
Aug 12, 2007 Keelyn Healy rated it really liked it
This is a friend's work. I'm not just flattering him because he's a friend, but because he's an amazing poet,person,and memoir writer. I used this book all the time when I was tutoring and teaching. He speaks the blunt truth with so much depth, soul, and lyrical precision. This story is meaningful and thought provoking.
Nov 28, 2010 Misshaq rated it it was amazing
One of my favorite books. I love it. A good friend recommended this to me. The author, Michael Datcher, writes so honestly about his life, and how his experiences shaped him and his ideas of love. He also explores religion and spirituality. And it has a great and happy ending! Great book, a real page turner.
Aug 30, 2007 Kim rated it really liked it
This was the most unusual book I've read in a long time and I didn't expect to like it as much as I did. It was wonderful to escape and learn about another culture that exists under my nose. As a white woman, I obvioulsy will never fully understand, but I found this book very powerful and thought provoking. It would have made a fantastic book group book.
Dec 14, 2009 Steve rated it really liked it
i got this as a bargain book from B & N, but i really liked it. the author points out, in this true account, the reality for black men and their seeming inability to maintain any type of healthy relationship (with women and especially children) becomes a mission of his to go against the stereotypical and rise above it. the resulting story is pretty amazing. a good book.
Dec 20, 2010 Erika rated it really liked it
This was a raw story of a young, thoughtful, introspective man who grew up in some rough areas. I was fascinated by his perspective and views even though I didn't always agree. In places, I thought he was self-aggrandizing, but it reminded me of my college days and some of the characters I knew. All in all, it was an absorbing story, and I would love to know where he is now.
Nancy Peacock
Feb 20, 2014 Nancy Peacock rated it it was amazing
I have never read a memoir which was more revealing than this one. Michael Datcher lays it on the line - he's willing to be vulnerable as he explores what it means to be a man, and to live in an environment in which fathers who father are absent. Every man of every race should read this book. I applaud him.
Ajah Polk
Oct 14, 2010 Ajah Polk rated it liked it
I really enjoyed reading this book because it was inspiring, and uplifting. The main character had a tough life starting out, because he had issues dealing with the fact that he was adopted, and he had troubles trusting men, because he was raised by a single mother. He fought through alot proving that no matter how tough life is, that shouldn't stop you from reaching your goals and aspirations.
Cheryl serra
Apr 14, 2008 Cheryl serra rated it really liked it
Urban voice is how I would decribe Michael Datcher's storytelling. Datcher is a young black man coming to grips with what that has meant historically and, more introspectively for him, it appears, what it can mean to him. His story reads honestly and provides insight into what some of us can never be.
Oct 29, 2015 Jen rated it liked it
oops, finished this last week. Interesting for me because the author is so many things I'm not: black, male, from the inner city, religious, interested in raising a family. That's what reading a memoir is for, right?
Lorna Satchwell
Aug 10, 2014 Lorna Satchwell rated it it was amazing
Great book... In the beginning the pace is slow and the objective is unclear. Then between Chapters 15-20 the book goes from Zero to 100 in catching your attention. Just when you think you know you are pushed into a raw truth. Love reading this.
Jul 01, 2016 Tunde rated it it was amazing
Great book about raw emotion about things that a Black man had to deal with growing up in urban America. Everything from being adopted, to going to majority White schools, to going to college, fatherhood and marriage.
Nov 22, 2008 Colleen rated it it was amazing
Includes some amazing spoken word poetry, written so that you feel you are right there in the audience. Recommended to those who like memoirs, enjoy poetry, and learning about the cycle of poverty/fatherlessness in the black community.
Jan 16, 2012 Christa rated it really liked it
Definitely an inspiring memoir as a woman and understanding the life of a Black man in an inner city so different than my small town midwestern life. His perserverence and love for family kept him so strong throughout all the pressures and emotions.
Dec 27, 2009 Erinn rated it really liked it
This book was amazing, and raw and filled with such honest emotion. It must have been cathartic for Michael Datcher to write it. What an inspiration he is. I wish I could sit and drink wine and have a poetry discussion with him. Wow.
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Michael Datcher, a journalist and spoken-word poet, has written for Vibe, The Los Angeles Times, The Washington Post, The Baltimore Sun, and Buzz.
A former Pacific News Service correspondent, Michael Datcher has contributed essays to a number of anthologies.
More about Michael Datcher...

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“When you look outside yourself for affirmation, you give extraordinary power to the affirmer. When people have extraordinary power, they tend to abuse it.” 0 likes
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