INKTOWN is a memoir of the only white family in an illustrious but oft-maligned community. This story is a generational journey to redemption. After his fugitive mom shot a man and his brother committed murder, my father sought atonement. He became a preacher and moved to the place that remains our home, Inkster, Michigan (nicknamed "Inktown" by its residents). When the mother next door pointed a gun my way, I was only ten and could not have imagined the events that would follow. This incident and its consequences incited me to join the quest for peace. But there were violent obstacles to harmony to overcome, in both home and hometown. INKTOWN celebrates the will to achieve in the face of adversity, reshapes thinking on racial issues, and challenges social constructs. It tells of how a small city subjected to harsh segregation and rapacious land-grabs turns out numerous notables from Malcolm X to the Marvelettes, and inspires me.
Idea/Concept: This rich, heartfelt memoir centers on a flawed family legacy and the small Michigan town where author Turley was raised. Speckled with family and community lore going back generations (Turley's family was white, while the vast majority of Inkster residents were black), Turley writes lovingly of a place with seemingly little to offer or to be remembered by. In the process, he reveals its actually remarkable history.
Prose: Descriptions of Inkster's physical landmarks and natural features are fluid and detailed, while recreations of moments from Turley's family's volatile past, are vivid, visceral, and authentic.
Originality: Perhaps every American town--and family--is exceptional in its own way, and Turley's pensive memoir demonstrates this. The author understands the tethers that forever connect individuals to their childhood homes, and how the history of a location continues to hound and haunt its residents.
Execution: To use a cliché, the town of Inkster becomes a veritable character in Turley's memoir. The author does not claim to speak for the entirety of Inkster or its residents past and present--nor, certainly, should he. Instead, he offers a beautiful homage to the place that shaped him.
Date Submitted: January 31, 2020