Here for It by R. Eric Thomas

Brought into the world with jazz hands present, a true immaculate conception. Born with a fabulous sense of humour, a brilliant talent for writing, and with a smile that shines as bright as the sun. 

Once I started this audiobook, I was committed. I really was Here For It. Listening to Eric's cheery delivery was music to my ears on my daily dog walks. Over the days, listening to his voice, I observed my confidence increasing as I moved with more intention and purpose.

Before discovering Here For It, I didn't know who this beautiful soul was. I just happened to be browsing through the Read With Jenna book club selects and stumbled upon a cheerful cover that I felt I needed in my life right at that moment. 

Turns out, this dude is pretty famous, and pretty flipping funny, too. Eric is a well known writer (of this bestselling book, obviously), but also a playwright, and a humour writer. He has been heard on The Moth Radio Hour, NPR's It's Been a Minute with Sam Sanders, All Things Considered, and Pop Culture Happy Hour, as well as a host of other podcasts. 

For four years, Eric was also a Senior Staff writer at one of our fave glossy magazines,, where he wrote "Eric Reads the News", a daily current events and culture column. His work has appeared in The New York Times, Time, W Mag, O the Oprah Magazine, and many other publications. 

Yeah, he's pretty damn accomplished.
At the beginning of Here For It, Eric talks about his childhood, where he was "black in a white environment, gay in a straight environment, never quite right. An other." 

He often found himself retreating to the library, where he found solace in books, his saving grace. His passion for books shines bright throughout the entire book. He says "a library looks like endless possibilities in this way. A library is a universe of smaller universes contained within pages... Every story is an invitation to imagination". I love hearing the excitement in his voice when talking about the library and his time working there. 

What I really loved about this book was its authenticity and humour, at a time when we all need to lay back and laugh. But I love that it was told with vulnerability and honesty. Eric discusses low points in his life, like when he lost one of his closest friends. Things we must all face at one point or other. He says "For every story, there are so many endings. A step into a new possibility". 

Another low point for Eric, hiding his illegal gayness. He talks about it with humour, but it can't have been easy. To be one of a few black kids at school, but to be (likely) one of the only gay black kids at school must have been especially rough. 

He started to come to terms with it though, the library being the only place that Eric felt safe to even start exploring the word gay

Courtesy of Eric's Twitter

Things started turning around for Eric when he started private school at Park in Baltimore. His parents worked extremely hard to send the kids to private school, and Eric thanks the school for his success, attributing Park for his being truly seen for the first time, his qualities praised, respected, and encouraged. 

He also started dating, talking about his first relationship and how he came to terms with it (while totally freaking him out at the same time). This is relatable for any same sex couple trying a new thing. 

His dating life started to fire up in his 30s. He talks about how for years he dreamed of a melon coloured stand mixer, which he saved and saved for, working overtime, and eventually buying for himself. This made me laugh because it made me think of my long term boyfriend (now fiancĂ©). We got engaged last year and decided to forgo the rings and instead I bought him a bright red stand mixer that we named Ruby May. She shines brightly front and centre on our kitchen counter. We also have a hand mixer named Yolko Ono. 

Eric admits that sometimes he doesn't know what he's doing or why he's doing it, but that he tries it anyway. And I think that's pretty awesome. 

There was a step before finding his true love and current husband, and that step was online dating, which went a little like this. 

What's the most private thing you are willing to admit here? "I'm getting pretty serious about getting on The New York Times Weddings & Celebrations page"

Response: Massively unpopular...

Spoiler: His husband David and him did in fact end up on those pages the day they got married. And I am so delighted to hear that. 
All in, I found Eric's story easy to relate to from an LGBTQ perspective and in terms of feeling like an outsider growing up and coming to terms with feeling different than others. I enjoyed listening to the audiobook format because I can't imagine not hearing Eric's lovely voice reading it to me now, his passion and love for life leaping through each chapter. 

To close, I am here for it, down with it, living for it, and everything for it. Thank you Eric, for sharing your story, and for being you. If you weren't an immaculate conception like you say you were, the world would be missing a star today. 

Here For It: Or, How To Save Your Soul in America: Essays is available at Indigo or you can check Penguin Random House Canada for additional purchasing options. 

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