STARRED REVIEW
October 2016

Carving a path outside of convention

By iO Tillett Wright
Review by
Darling Days opens with a brief letter from iO Tillett Wright to his mother, offering forgiveness and love. It’s well-placed in the story, because reading about Wright’s childhood, and the abuse and neglect he suffered at the hands of both parents, can leave a reader feeling angry and vengeful. Wright’s story is often grim, but it points toward reconciliation and a measure of peace beyond the turmoil.
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Darling Days opens with a brief letter from iO Tillett Wright to his mother, offering forgiveness and love. It’s well-placed in the story, because reading about Wright’s childhood, and the abuse and neglect he suffered at the hands of both parents, can leave a reader feeling angry and vengeful. Wright’s story is often grim, but it points toward reconciliation and a measure of peace beyond the turmoil.

A genderqueer photographer, writer, MTV host and activist, Wright had an unorthodox upbringing. His mother, Rhonna, was a “glamazon,” who exercised obsessively and was always in motion, often with the aid of pharmaceuticals. Moving between apartments in the projects, she and Wright’s father split up not long after his birth, and neither was well-equipped to raise a child. Frequently going hungry and struggling in school, Wright couldn’t even catch a break on the playground. When some kids refused to let Wright join a football game as a girl, he resolved on the spot to live as a boy named Ricky and did so for the next decade.

When his mother’s inexplicable rages became unbearable, Wright summoned the courage to ask for help. Moving from the streets of New York’s roughest neighborhoods to Europe with his dad and finding stability in an English boarding school, he learned that his father, too, was fighting demons that prevented him from being a suitable guardian.

Darling Days is a story of unfortunate self-reliance, but Wright tells it vividly. The thrills and temptations of the art world, and the people that busy whirl leaves behind, are also convincingly captured here.

 

This article was originally published in the October 2016 issue of BookPage. Download the entire issue for the Kindle or Nook.

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Darling Days

Darling Days

By iO Tillett Wright
Ecco
ISBN 9780062368201

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