- Expected Feb 18, 2020
From the creator of Elle’s “Eric Reads the News,” a heartfelt and hilarious memoir-in-essays about growing up seeing the world differently, finding unexpected hope, and experiencing every awkward, extraordinary stumble along the way.
“Pop culture–obsessed, Sedaris-level laugh-out-loud funny . . . [R. Eric Thomas] is one of my favorite writers.”—Lin-Manuel Miranda, Entertainment Weekly
R. Eric Thomas didn’t know he was different until the world told him so. Everywhere he went—whether it was his rich, mostly white, suburban high school, his conservative black church, or his Ivy League college in a big city—he found himself on the outside looking in.
In essays by turns hysterical and heartfelt, Eric redefines what it means to be an “other” through the lens of his own life experience. He explores the two worlds of his childhood: the barren urban landscape where his parents’ house was an anomalous bright spot, and the verdant school they sent him to in white suburbia. He writes about struggling to reconcile his Christian identity with his sexuality, the exhaustion of code-switching in college, accidentally getting famous on the internet (for the wrong reason), and the surreal experience of covering the 2016 election, and the seismic changes that came thereafter. Ultimately, Eric seeks the answer to these ever more relevant questions: Is the future worth it? Why do we bother when everything seems to be getting worse? As the world continues to shift in unpredictable ways, Eric finds the answers to these questions by re-envisioning what “normal” means and in the powerful alchemy that occurs when you at last place yourself at the center of your own story.
Here for It will resonate deeply and joyfully with everyone who has ever felt pushed to the margins, struggled with self-acceptance, or wished to shine more brightly in a dark world. Stay here for it—the future may surprise you.
With humor, candor, and some self-deprecation, Thomas, a playwright and Elle columnist, delivers a debut essay collection that explores his search for self, love, and stable employment. Growing up in a "broken-down" Baltimore neighborhood while attending a majority-white private school, Thomas, an African-American, learned that living in a bubble isn't all that bad his parents economized and worked tirelessly to insulate him from the world's injustices. Throughout, he deals with imposter syndrome, as when his college acceptance letters include invitations to events for students of color, causing him to ask himself, "Was I the black they were looking for?" Upon beginning at Columbia, he tentatively enters the gay dating scene; questions his Baptist upbringing, in which "being gay was such a sin it wasn't even spoken of"; and falls in love with postcolonial literature. After college and several jobs, his life changes when a Facebook post in which he "publicly thirsts" after President Obama goes viral, landing him his Elle dream job. Whether dealing with love, breakups, or other setbacks, Thomas is an affable narrator with a penchant for pop culture, funny quips, and charming humility.