Book Review: ‘I am not a label, I am Gary’

i am not a label i am gary

I regret picking up this book to read two nights ago when I was having trouble falling asleep. The reason I couldn’t seem to fall asleep was because I was buzzing after finally spotting Meow, whom I had not seen for weeks. And I regret choosing this book to read late in the night because it has just 168 pages, and was a relatively easy read, and so I finished reading the whole book in one sitting. (>_<) I think I may actually have seen the author working in Eighteen Chefs before, but I’m not quite certain.

Gary’s life is one that’s full of ups and downs, starting from the time his parents divorced when he was three years old. His story reads like the stories of many others before him – dropping out of school, joining a gang, getting into fights, substance abuse, blah blah blah. But in his case, there’s redemption. I love how he got his act together, doing extremely well in school due to sheer perseverance (4.0 GPA! Whoots!)

I was definitely horrified at the parts where he shared about sexual abuse he suffered as a kid, and when he later strangled a girlfriend till she fainted and had to be sent to hospital. I really hope the girl is well today.

I’m so glad Gary is a changed man, and he’s been actively giving back to society by reaching out to at-risk youths, and has even set up Happy Children Happy Future (find them on Facebook) to match volunteer tutors with children from underprivileged families.

One thing Gary wants to achieve with the writing of this book is to shine the spotlight on discrimination towards people with tattoos. I’m not sure what your take on tattoos is, but for me, I think people who DARE to get a tattoo (especially BIG ones) aren’t just brave; they are people who have experienced very painful situations in their lives, and therefore are able to ‘cope’ with the pain that comes with getting a tattoo. As for me, I’ve never wanted a tattoo before as I find that there’s no one perfect spot for a tattoo, and there’s no perfect design even if you’ve miraculously found the right spot, and if the tattoo artist makes a mistake, then guess who’s going to have to live with the mistake? So I really don’t mind if people have tattoos. If I’m an employer, I’d hire someone whether or not he/she has a tattoo (or many). But yes, if a GROUP of people with tattoos are walking towards me, my heart might start beating a little faster. While it may be art and self-expression and all that, one cannot deny that people belonging to gangs tend to also have tattoos.

All in all, I found this book to be a good read. Yes, the author thinks he isn’t a label. But I guess ‘inspiration’, as a label, would be a good one to have, ya?