A Wealth of Family
by Thomas Brooks
Alpha Multimedia, Inc. (2006)
Reviewed by Paige Lovitt for Reader Views (6/06)
“A Wealth of Family” has something to be enjoyed or learned by people from all walks of life, no matter what your gender, socio-economic background or culture. This is a fantastic book. It centers on Brooks upbringing as an adopted black men who wanted to find his roots. I found it difficult to write this review because his story touched me in so many ways, it was hard for me to narrow down which area I enjoyed the greatest or which part of his life experiences taught me the most. In spite of our differences (gender, race, upbringing) I learned a lot about myself as I read. I admire his ability to see the positive learning experiences that come from experiencing negative situations.
Brooks was raised by a very protective, divorced black woman. They had to struggle financially. He had close extended family in his life and a wonderful male role model. In his youth, he learned that he was adopted. His birth mother was a white woman and his father was an African from Kenya. Brooks developed an interest in finding his birth family so that he could learn about his roots.
Throughout his education, Brooks had to deal with racism and poverty. He experienced racism from his friends and teachers. He attended a predominantly white school. Some of his friends would make racist comments based on ignorance without realizing that their beliefs were wrong. Brooks chose to get his revenge by excelling in academics and athletics. Then he had to deal with black-on-black prejudice by being told that he was “acting white” by his black peers.
Brooks was the first in his family to attend college. This was a whole new learning experience for him. He had to deal with the paradox of trying to show everyone that black people can excel at everything and then being accused of being boastful and arrogant when he would succeed.
After Brooks completed his education, he was contacted by his birth mother. Through her, he is able to meet his siblings in England and contact his father’s family in Kenya. After a great deal of effort, he is able to meet his birth father and extended family in Kenya. Brooks is able to connect his adoptive family, his English family and his African family. Now he truly knows his roots.
What I really enjoyed about this book is that the story did not end when he met his mother. He continues on and teaches us about the how much more his life was enriched by being able to combine his family from their different cultures.
I highly recommend this book to be used in African-American studies classes and in Cultural Counseling classes. I think that it would be great to be read in areas of underprivileged youth. Brooks showed that he could overcome all of the hardships in his life and he is actively involved in making a difference in the lives of others.
Brooks writes about how slavery has robbed African Americans of their history and culture. This often leads them to think that they are inferior. Because of his experiences he developed a perspective of himself as a “world citizen, not limited by race, religion, nationality or political ideology.” If everyone could develop this view of themselves, there would be an end to racism and we would have world peace.