Discouraged after stumbling in his dogged search for happiness, Anthony, a meek and pessimistic college freshman, wanders through the darkness aimlessly. Then, a single moment of kindness opens a new path before him, though where it leads, only time will tell.
A journey of love and fear through nightmares both real and imagined. From freshman year to graduation, follow A.S. on a road that supposedly leads to happiness as he combats recurring nightmares and feelings of worthlessness.
An ode to teens and adults feeling alone in the world.
Drayton decides to join a fraternity in an attempt to overcome his shyness and develop self-esteem. That choice does bring out some of his strengths in the open, though in different ways than he expects, as several personal issues and setbacks remain to be confronted on the road to becoming an adult. Told in simple, clean prose with an incisive emotional intelligence, the memoir follows an uncomplicated linear structure. The honest descriptions about fighting shyness and Drayton’s keen desire for love and companionship, and his ambition to have “a loving family to call my own; the classic wife and kids” are relatable. However, passages describing the various tasks he undertook to secure admission into his fraternity, and the problems that fraternity faced, lack the urgency and resonance of the more personal material, though readers with a connection to that milieu may find these sections engaging.
Evocative descriptions of a recurring nightmare add weight to the tale, and eventually dream and reality bleed into each other, deftly capturing his sense of abandonment, his sinking self-worth, and his slow descent into an all engulfing sadness–all while showing readers that such feelings can be faced and discussed without stigmatization. The last chapter, which catches Drayton and friends after a few years’ gap, movingly ties the loose ends.
Takeaway: A touching collegiate coming-of-age memoir about an introvert finding love and confidence.
Great for fans of: J. R. Moehringer’s The Tender Bar: A Memoir, Kendra James’s Admission.
Design and typography: A
Marketing copy: A
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A debut memoir that explores college life and friendship.
In this work, Drayton, a writer and the proprietor of A.S. Drayton Books, provides readers with a story about fighting feelings of worthlessness, focusing on how a stranger’s asking him “Are you okay?” one night changed his life. Curiously, Anthony Lunan, this stranger-turned-friend, did not stay in the author’s life for long. Personal circumstances necessitated Lunan’s leaving the university they both attended. Yet Drayton emphasizes that this recollection of a chance meeting is more than a “throwaway” in regard to the rest of the memoir. Lunan brought the author into a circle of friends who remained steady throughout Drayton’s many personal and academic trials and would be around years later to celebrate his forthcoming wedding. This book presents an engrossing picture of the life of a contemporary college student at George Mason University, a public college in Northern Virginia, near Washington, D.C. As such, this story delivers plenty of rich details and “local color,” including the Washington scavenger hunt that was part of Drayton’s fraternity’s pledge initiation. Indeed, a demand related to this scavenger hunt that the author found deeply offensive is part of his dramatic account of what he describes as a battle for the soul of the fraternity he joined and ended up staying with. He speaks at length about his struggle to find the right woman to love long-term and his fears that he never would. Drayton also recounts with bracing honesty the joys of using a hookah, both privately and in social settings. In addition, he briefly touches on being a Black man between Black and White social worlds. The book’s narrative flows well overall (even with the sometimes-distracting detours into the author’s dreams that seem all too real), though there is something of a disconnect in the account before what should be identified as an epilogue. Still, this is an engaging and human story about finding friendship and gaining confidence.
A compelling account that shows the difference a single act of kindness can make.
Are You Okay? The Carryover of Kindness by A.S. Drayton is a remarkable memoir about a millennial’s existential crisis in an indifferent world that is too huge to care. The story draws you in quickly as Anthony Drayton, a meek and cynical college freshman, laments his choices pertaining to college life at George Mason University. He devours a box of chocolates meant for his now ex-girlfriend who breaks his heart and gives him second thoughts about continuing the college experience. Rubbing salt in the wound is the fact that his friends really belonged to his ex since they have given him the cold shoulder after the breakup. As his motivation for higher learning is buried under a blanket of sorrow, he unexpectedly hears the words that will change the entire trajectory of his life: Are you okay? Perhaps this is the guardian angel that Anthony didn’t ask for but someone he needs to help break his impregnable shell of despair.
One of the most common problems besetting the young is the inevitable disappointment they feel when expectations don’t fall in their favor. A.S. Drayton clearly illustrates this at the very beginning. We learn that he was once an idealist with a dream of having a happy family of his own and not caring much for the pursuit of academic excellence. If you have ever been to college, this book’s message will resonate and stay with you for a long time. Drayton’s narrative style will make you pay more attention to your relationships with others and that simple acts of kindness never hurts. This memoir encourages self-reflection, with its emotional components tugging at you strongly. If you love touching stories like Tuesdays with Morrie and Mister God, This is Anna, then Are You Okay? is sure to take you on a powerful, inspirational ride.