Synopses & Reviews
Kemp Powers was a good kid, an honors student, raised by a single mother in Brooklyn in the mid-1980s. Like many children, he lived in the sheltered world of his family and neighborhood. He was oblivious to the violence around him. As a black teenager going to junior high in a white neighborhood, Kemp became acutely aware of the racial tension and violence bubbling up in New York (think Bernard Goetz and Howard Beach and crack cocaine). This, along with an adolescent interest in guns, changed Kemp's life forever. In 1987, Kemp accidentally shot his best friend. His parents didn't press charges, and Kemp was forgiven by everyone, including the state of New York. But Kemp couldn't forgive himself. He thought about Henry every day and made a promise to never make a mistake again a promise a child naively made that the adult couldn't keep.
"One fine day in April 1988, Powers, a 14-year-old Brooklyn honors student, came home from school with two pals. Showing off a bit just fooling around, really he took out one of his mom's handguns and accidentally shot and killed his best friend. Although his friend's family forgave him, Powers never forgave himself. A year of counseling offered little to a young man consumed with guilt; the compassionate silence of his family and friends only helped him suppress the pain. He channeled his energies into his academic work and, later, a successful career in journalism (Forbes, Newsweek, Vibe, Savoy, etc.). Only Powers's baby daughter's sudden crisis life-threatening febrile seizures brought him back to thinking about 'the Shooting.' The baby survived, but her fragility triggered an intense reaction in Powers; he suffered increasingly debilitating anxiety and panic attacks. Medication eventually helped, although his marriage didn't survive. He slid into alcohol, fantasized suicide. By the end of the book, Powers has made a very tentative, fragile peace with his past. There are no polemics, not about gun control or racism or other issues his story could raise. This is simply writing from the heart, and it's powerful. 12 pages of b&w photos not seen by PW. Agent, Levine Greenberg Literary Agency. (Jan.) FYI: A story-length version of this book appeared in Esquire in December 2002." Publishers Weekly (Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information, Inc.)
In 1987, Kemp PowersQa good kid raised by a single mother in Brooklyn oblivious to the violence around himQaccidentally shot his best friend. Forgiven by everyone but unable to forgive himself, Kemp promised to never make a mistake againQa promise naively made by a child that the adult couldn't keep. (Memoir)