At the age of thirty-four, I am less bothered by the fact that I have to move back in with my parents than by the circumstances leading to the change. I had already accomplished everything that I put my mind to, including playing on a championship basketball team, learning Spanish, and earning two degrees from Morehouse College in four years. I even beat the odds upon graduating in 2002 by settling into a career with a major insurer that promised to pay six figures, a coup, considering the financial distress caused by the events of 9/11. At twenty-eight, I relocated to Atlanta on a monthly salary in excess of $12,000. I purchased a townhome in the city, had $100,000 in my 401k, and a black-on-black 6 series convertible that I only drove on nice days. Then I got a call from a friend who was as close as a brother. He had a woman on the line whose voice began to change my life. What ensues, is unjust.
Rowell shares his turbulent life story, mainly comprised of issues he faced battling adversity while working in the insurance industry and his romantic struggles with his longtime partner, in this uneven debut. Rowell, who is African-American and worked as a sales representative and then client executive for MetLife, sued the company in 2012 for discrimination, claiming his client assignments were based on race and that he was denied larger opportunities. Rowell’s telling is haphazard and sloppily delivered, unfortunately, with frequent switches mid-paragraph to muse on his ex-girlfriend, Jessica. The few moments of tension come when exploring the turmoil (often due to jealousy and miscommunication) that led to the end of their relationship after five years. Rowell, who initially lost his lawsuit but has an appeal pending, provides an eye-opening account of how his efforts have been stifled but his hope and tenacity has never wavered. In the end, Rowell uplifts with his message of perseverance: “I endeavor to leave every situation better than I found it. You’re only as strong as your name and the reputation that precedes it.” While Rowell’s structure is unwieldy and his prose is unpolished, his story of perseverance will appeal to readers of self-improvement memoirs. (Self-published)