Verdict: Peters honestly details the lessons he learned on the way to a better life, and while many are unusual, if his imparted wisdom helps others to rise above their “parasitic” situations this book will be a triumph.
From the childhood years with abusive caretakers and the gang violence of his various schools, through the stumbling blocks of college and biases he faced as an African-American man in graduate school, to the difficulties still faced as a highly respected professor in a loving and supportive environment, CROSSING FARMERS BOULEVARD details every major insight Dr. Ronald Peters, Jr. has made on his upward journey.
These insights are delivered in convoluted metaphors and dripping purple prose (“In this developmental stage of my life, I discovered another extremely powerful form of God’s harmonic expression through my keen observation of the feminine personification”). But once the reader gets into the rhythm of Peters’ voice, the book is a unique take on the rags-to-riches memoir.
Peters sees himself as a “loyalist:” one who is loyal to all humanity and not one ideology. He uses dogs, reptiles, and parasites metaphorically to describe the types of people and situations to avoid if one wants to lead a more prosperous life. Although he rarely discusses a “goal” in his life or in the writing down of his life, he focuses on his achievement of “oneness,” or a sense of balance and harmony with oneself and the world, rather than an explicit striving for money or fame. In this way the book is structured around insights, not events; so while the book is chronological, chunks of time will be skipped if they don’t yield a lesson. The most eye-opening and fruitful insights come after Peters has “crossed Farmers Boulevard” by leaving Queens, New York, for Virginia Commonwealth University, and adulthood beyond: the narrative of neglect and structural racism of his childhood is more trodden territory than the perceptive lessons he took away from interactions with Southern white racists in college and his time as the director of Arrestee Drug Abuse Monitoring at the School of Public Health in Houston, for example.
Peters includes imagined one-act plays and hip-hop lyrics to illustrate his points, which add to the humor and originality of the book. The purple prose combined with wooden dialogue can be distracting in chapters that are heavy on recollections, but Peters shines when expounding on his theories of human nature.
A unique success story by an interesting individual, CROSSING FARMERS BOULEVARD provides profound and unconventional insights to readers who want to cross their own Farmers Boulevards or study the intersection of confluences that keep most people on the parasitic side of the street.
~Danielle Bukowski for IndieReader