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No Ashes in the Fire: Coming of Age Black and Free in America

4.18  ·  Rating details ·  1,765 ratings  ·  264 reviews
From a leading journalist and activist comes a brave, beautifully wrought memoir.

When Darnell Moore was fourteen, three boys from his neighborhood tried to set him on fire. They cornered him while he was walking home from school, harassed him because they thought he was gay, and poured a jug of gasoline on him. He escaped, but just barely. It wasn't the las
Kindle Edition, 257 pages
Published May 29th 2018 by Nation Books
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Average rating 4.18  · 
Rating details
 ·  1,765 ratings  ·  264 reviews

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Mar 11, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: netgalley
4.5 stars

"Memory is a tricky force, especially when brutality, poverty, self-hatred, and many other unseen hands, which turn beautiful people into the monsters and victims, dictate what we remember."

Wow! This was a very eloquent, courageous, personal, and beautifully written memoir. This first thing that got my attention was his beautiful writing, followed closely by the courage and strength it took to be so open and honest.

Darnell Moore was once a frightened young man living in a home filled w
Jun 21, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Jenna by: Bobbieshiann
"Black same-sex love is revolutionary because we must first convince ourselves we are deserving of receiving and giving what has been denied us for so long.”

I love the kind of memoirs where the writer is so open and honest and writes with such clarity and insight that you feel like you've made a new friend. That is the way Darnell L. Moore has written No Ashes in the Fire, with such stark and brutal honesty, laying bare his hopes and dreams, sadness and fear and joy and love.

Mr. Moore is a
May 15, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: netgalley
Darnell Moore is only in his mid 40s, but his life is definitely already memoir worthy. He is black and gay, and grew up in a poor predominantly black town in New Jersey. There was crazy strong love in his family, but also violence, poverty and addiction. Moore is now an activist, most recently involved in the Black Lives Matter movement. He tells his own story, and also comments more broadly about race, sexuality, class, family and education. Everything he has to say is interesting, but I espec ...more
Stacie C
Apr 23, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: black-authors, 2018
I’m pretty much in love with reading memoirs by Black people right now. Doing so, keeps reassuring me that we, as Black people, are not a monolith and our diversity is something to be celebrated. I want to celebrate Moore after reading his memoir. I want to celebrate him and the amount of growth he experienced from being a young insecure teen, bullied by the other kids in the neighborhood to being an accomplished sexually fluid man who advocates for the rights of Black people and the LGBT commu ...more
J Beckett
Jul 02, 2018 rated it it was amazing
There are memoirs that send the reader into another place or time, often reviving thoughts that were kept deep in their psyche; a secret between them and the God of their understanding. Certainly, this is what Darnell Moore accomplished with No Ashes in the Fire: Coming of Age Black and Free in America, the story of tribulation and triumph; a hopeful spray of a toxic reality that raises questions and quells the darkest of anxieties.

Moore walks the readers through Camden, New Jersey during a per
Feb 27, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites, memoirs

“I am a black man who has loved and been intimate with men and women, a black man who defies societal norms, a black man who grew up in the age of hip-hip and AIDS, and a black man from the hood”.

“Memory is a tricky force, especially when brutality, poverty, self-hatred, and many other unseen hands, which turn beautiful people into monsters and victims, dictate what we remember”.

This is more than just a memoir. This is history, self discovery, understanding, and a story that needs to be told
This one is a 4.5-into-5 stars, and because I want everyone to read it, I will try not to give a summary, as to not spoil anyone’s experience with this revelatory memoir. Darnell Moore’s No Ashes in the Fire is the book we all need to read for Pride month, another year in Trump’s America, college break, family reunion season, and every other day of our lives. He has distilled the very particular experiences of his life in and beyond Camden, New Jersey into a deeply affectionate sermon to the bla ...more
Darnell Moore grew up in Camden, N.J Camden is a city that over the decades became one of the most neglected and poor American cities. Its residents are overwhelmingly African American. I never cease to be amazed at the unrelenting decline of some cities like Detroit. and Camden. What are the causes? What are the forces at work? Moore provides some history that provides some of the reasons and recommends a book for those readers who want to understand more. His own grandmother lost her home at s ...more
Dec 18, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: memoir
No Ashes in the Fire is both a memoir from a gay black male growing up both poor, traumatized and loved in Camden, and a social commentary on being black, gay, queer, hiding, and out. As a writer, Moore is honest, intense, and passionate. In the prologue he says, "Every word and every sentence that follows is an attempt to recover the many smiles and moments of joy hiding behind he walls trauma left." True to his words, Moore leaves the reader with the hope that our humanity, our ability to love ...more
May 31, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: lgbtqiap, nonfiction, 2020
Darnell L. Moore’s memoir shares his personal story of growing up Black in America, facing racism, homophobia, violence, and unequal opportunities. Through his personal stories he also shares wider experiences of race, class, sexuality, and how they impact people and communities. I thought it was an interesting way to structure a memoir. When he was sharing his own experiences going to an underfunded school in the 80s he also highlighted facts about the wider issue, not only focusing on his own ...more
Dec 31, 2018 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I read No Ashes in the Fire because of the Times review that praised its treatment of what it was like to grow up poor, black, and queer in Camden, New Jersey. It's also about how the author came to terms with his sexuality and his faith and became an activist.

I regret to report, however, that while it is about all of those things, they are all conveyed in some of the most tortured prose I have ever encountered. Many nouns come with three or four adjectives. No verb is without an adverb. Clunky
Apr 21, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Thank you NetGalley for this advanced eGalley of No Ashes in the Fire by Darnell L. Moore.

I always hesitate when I'm asked to rate a memoir because it's a hard thing to rate the way a person writes his/her/their truth. You simply cannot judge a story, or the way it's told, because who are you to do so?

If anything, I give any and every one who lays themselves bare 5-stars because that is something that's hard to do--especially when you're a black, gay, man in America.

No Ashes in the Fire is Moo
Free in exchange for an honest review, courtesy of Goodreads Giveaways. Thanks to Public Affairs Television, Inc for listing.

I guess I'd never stopped to consider what "free" meant in the context of this book's subtitle. I'm glad I didn't know much about the book going into it, though.

No Ashes in the Fire: Coming of Age Black and Free in America chronicles Darnell L. Moore's life as a black and queer child, teenager, and young adult growing up in the 80's, 90's, and 2000's. It was the LGBT part
Traci at The Stacks
Darnell Moore is such a generous and lush writer. His vulnerability is a gift to his reader. The start and end of this book are so strong. The middle couldn’t keep up. This book is a brilliant reminder at the need yo love all Black folks unconditionally. So powerful.
Mark Hiser
Darnell Moore, a gay black man, bravely--and lovingly--makes himself vulnerable so that we might all have a greater understanding of life at the margins, and of the struggles that arise when our institutions teach us to fear, hate, judge, and consider some persons more deserving than others. Moore also makes clear how persons at the edges have been taught they deserve to be there. His words, however, also reinforce the call to action for love, justice, and equality.

I am a white man. I have been
Scott  Hitchcock

One man's story of not only dealing with bigotry from bring black but also from being gay which divides him from his own community. His family bonds in the end keeping him afloat as he transforms from hiding to becoming an advocate for injustice on many fronts.
Julia Keizer
Dec 08, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
In reading No Ashes in the Fire I was immediately drawn in by the writing of Darnel Moore. His writing style was like smooth honey, slowly working its way into my soul. "hiding eyes that were windows into a world more fantastic that the world he moved through." It was like listening to smooth jazz the whole way through the novel. I would love to hear him speak, I feel his voice would be as soothing to the soul as his words are.
The love for his family and his people is quickly shown in the first
Aqura (engineersreadtoo)
There are beautiful moments in this book. Many of them filled with the realization that black bodies matter, queer black bodies matter, queer black male bodies matter. It also matters that they can live openly and thrive in their truth while being grounded with genuine love. This is what I think Darnell did well with developing throughout this memoir.

I did not love it but I did not hate it either. I appreciate him sharing his story, specifically his vulnerability in facing the very things that
Apr 22, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I don’t know that I’m capable of providing an objective review of this book (frankly, I’m not sure a book review benefits from being impersonal when so much of reading is immediate and intimate). It felt too personal. I felt loved by it. Truly, I did.

Ostensibly it is a memoir about growing up queer, black, and impoverished and finding a way to thrive within those contexts. The early chapters provide a context of statistics, facts, and history for his childhood in Camden, New Jersey. The ensuing
Jul 13, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2018
Review to come
Courtney Judy
A very open and honest account of the authors childhood. Absolutely stunning writing, terrifying tales of being bullied and abused, all done without a hint of bitterness or anger from the author. Overall a wonderfully uplifting and inspiring read despite the terrible experiences relayed. A read that I would recommend to most.
chantel nouseforaname
Powerful. It’s this type of coming-of-age narratives that we need to amplify in the community. In the writing world. Darnell Moore took you deep into a home life so similar to many of those who grow up young, black and impoverished but who retain a sense of spirit and put forth this tenacity that can’t be broken or turned backwards.

I am awestruck by how reflective he is. On so many levels. He really gave comprehensive thought about the negative effects that patriarchy has on society and how he
May 10, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
TCNJ's required summer read for incoming freshman.

Moore's memoir mostly zooms in on his childhood growing up in Camden, NJ and then his college years at Seton Hall, but it's a remarkable blending of personal narrative with the sociology of place. He allows us to see him, his family, and the city he loves through his eyes even as he provides a necessary critique of the larger environmental factors (ie. white privilege, economic inequity, political corruption, etc) that often mark Camden as "one o
Kenneth Wade
Nov 07, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: queer, 2018
I had no idea this book would be this queer, but I’m happy about it.

There were a few moments, particularly in the first couple chapters, where I didn’t care for the writing, but it either got better or grew on me.

I also liked that this book had a lot of connections to another book I recently read, Michael Duberman’s Hold Tight Gently. That was purely coincidence, but it was nice nonetheless.

My life is a mess, hence the scatterbrained quality of this review, but I can confidently say I enjo
Jun 13, 2020 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a good book to learn about some of the issues affecting Black and queer communities, but I didn’t find it as effective as a memoir. Moore frequently shares commentary and research connecting his personal experiences with larger trends affecting Black and LGBTQ+ Americans. While this information is helpful to contextualize his individual story within broader themes, I feel at times I was only getting a glimpse into his life rather than the level of depth I usually expect from a memoir.
Sep 16, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I read books about people with different backgrounds, races, sexual orientations, etc. so that I can learn about a variety of experiences. Moore's story could not be more different than my own - he grew up impoverished in New Jersey as a black, gay youth. But his struggles to accept both himself and the circumstances he was born into are universal. I truly admire Moore's ability to fully examine his life, both his achievements and the mistakes he regrets. I did struggle a bit with the jumps in t ...more
Jul 28, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2018, library, 04-star
4.5 stars

I'll probably add my thoughts later.
Feb 26, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-2020
A powerful, heartfelt and courageous memoir. The author's beautiful writing truly resonates and his at times brutal honesty in recounting his struggles is nothing short of admirable.
A very fine read recommended for older youth and adults in reading groups, addressing issues of race, sexuality, and identity, that is, y'know, life and being.
Jun 26, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
"Every danger presented another opportunity to quicken my speed when violence was imminent. Difference is often the calculus for such violence, but the unexplainable strength within us sometimes safeguards us from its grip. Dreams die if they are consigned to the imagination only. They are the seeds we must be able to plant in the outside world; at least, that is what I now know, having remembered the ways I manifested dreams as a youth."

"Living, as a black youth without access to the collective
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