Despite the title, this book is actually a complete work of fiction; although there are number of things within it that are clearly inspired by the authors actual experiences. The main character starts life as a young boy living in the south of the USA in the latter part of the 19th century / early 20th century. It then details the various key stages in his life through to marriage.
The book details the struggle of the African-American people of the period; this was after all, at a time long before the civil rights movement. Although they had gained the abolition of slavery, and the right to vote, it was still not universally applied and segregation, bigotry and prejudice were the norm.
It contains some extraordinary writing; beautiful phrasing and eloquent descriptions. Although there are some examples of the so stereotypical characters of African descent, he also shows the intellectuals, the business men, the sports heros, the growing middle class, all with a burning desire to improve their lot.
Having been written in the early 20th century, it contains language that would now been seen as lacking in respect or even offensive. There is a description of a conversation between a number of people which highlights many of the commonly held opinions of the time. There is also a short chapter describing the lynching of a young man, with highly graphic details of his death.
This is a truly inspired piece of work and one that is most definitely worth reading; although it may require some parental guidance for younger or more immature people.