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A Reason to Believe: Book Review Print E-mail
Written by Kam Williams   
Wednesday, 13 April 2011 04:08


''My life is often described as ''improbable" because I grew up in a broken home and in poverty... Of course, I acknowledge the unlikelyhood of my good fortune. 

I also recognize the hard work and discipline that have made it possible.''

Excerpted from the preface (pgs.  3-4)


Deval Patrick and his sister Rhonda were raised on the South Side of Chicago by a mom who'd been abandoned by their dad for the proverbial ''other woman'' and a ''love child.''  Life is tough enough for a young boy growing up in the hood without a father, but it must been even more challenging when he's a famous jazz musician (saxophonist Pat Patrick) always on tour who rarely visits or sends any child support.

This was precisely Deval's plight during his formative years, a predicament which undoubtedly lowered his odds of ever making it out of the hood.  Nonetheless, thanks to his applying himself acdemically combined with the support of a devoted mother, grandparents and teachers, he managed to earn a scholarship to a prestigious boarding school by the time he graduated from junior high.

Deval subsequently attended Harvard College and the Harvard Law School, before working as an attorney for the NAACP and in the Clinton Administration.  In 2006, he ran for political office for the first time when he entered the race for Governor of Massachusetts.

Although a virtual unknown, he emerged victorious at the end of a hard-fought campaign.  And he repeated that unlikely feat just last fall when he made history by becoming the first African-American ever reelected the governor of any state in the union.

All the above achievements and many more are recounted in glowing detail in A Reason to Believe:  Lessons from an improbable Life, an autobiography which essentially amounts to an exercise in humility.  For at every turn, the appreciative author credits this or that relative, teacher, mentor or benefactor for playing a pivotal role at each step as he scaled the ladder of success.

Along the way he also married and had a family, carving out the sort of quality time for his daughters that he had himself never enjoyed with his estranged dad.  The icing on the cake is that, ultimately, Deval Patrick not only forgave his father before he died but took him into  his home when he was down on his luck.

A moving memoir by an unassuming overachiever-turned-altruistic role model well worth emulating!



A Reason to Believe:

Lessons from an Improbable Life

by Governor Deval Patrick

Broadway Books

Hardcover, $21.99

238 pages, Illustrated

ISBN: 978-0-7679-3112-0

To order a copy of the book go to www.amazon.com or .ca or www.barnesandnoble.com


About the author of this article:  Kam Williams is a syndicated film and book critic who wirtes for 100+ publications around the U.S., Europe, Asia, Africa, Canada and the Caribbean.  He is a columnist for www.afrotoronto.com. www.megadiversities.com and so on.  Some of Williams' articles are translated into Chinese.  Kam Williams is an erudite lawyer who holds a J.D from Boston University and other degrees:   an MA in English, a BA in Black Studies in Ivy Leagues (Brown University and Cornell University respectively) and  an M.B.A. from the Wharton School.  Kam Williams can be reached at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .