A Boy Who Loved Me by Wilson Semitti – Book Review

Accepting yourself is, by no means, an easy task. Everyone has had a moment in life where they felt like a different person from who they portray themselves as. This identity crisis, though one of the toughest phases of our lives, made us aware of our true selves. What we yearn for through this excruciating journey is to find solace within ourselves and the people we love. We learned to embrace our individuality and love ourselves in front of the world. This is the tale of one such brave life journey. This is the story of finding a home.

Wilson Semitti, in A Boy Who Loved Me

Wilson Semitti, in A Boy Who Loved Me, takes the reader on a voyage of discovering, loving, and accepting oneself. Over fifty chapters, the reader rides an emotional roller-coaster of joy, grief, regret, pride, anxiousness, love, heartbreak, and nostalgia. This literary work is a memoir of a black gay man from an orthodox homeland, Uganda, going through his life’s turns and turmoils, constantly trying to find an answer to ‘Who am I?’

The book begins with the author landing in China, a place he was warned about by his social circle. Expecting a prejudiced look from strangers, he is taken by surprise by the heartwarming hospitality and acceptance that he was welcomed with. As someone fond of traveling his whole life, Semitti looks forward to exploring this new land in all its uniqueness. Trying to settle and soak up his journey to China, he is stuck by the random thought of ‘the boy’. This takes him down memory lane to his adolescent years back in Uganda, and he gives in to the urge to document his life.

Throughout the book, the author can be seen being reminded of ‘the boy’, who happens to be his ex-lover and ex-husband. He gets stuck with the nostalgia of the times he spent with his lover at random moments, doing the most mundane things, or having the busiest day. This highlights his genuine love for ‘the boy’. The author can be seen expressing his gratitude for his past relationship, which shows how he has accepted fate and, despite how things ended, is determined to look at the brighter side of things. The reader experiences a rare kind of true love by the author for ‘the boy’ during his narration of different events of his life.

In this intimate account, Semitti can be seen constantly struggling to decide what to pen down from his life experiences. The reader can also observe the author scuffling, at points, with writing down the traumatic events that he finds hard to process emotionally. The reader can observe that this book is a rite of passage for the author to vent, process, and accept himself, his struggles, and his life up to this point.

Though the book is filled to the brim with personal instances that engross and excite the reader, a heartwarming experience of Semitti is that with Dr. Lumu. The author talks highly of him and makes the reader aware of how he was the kindest person through different instances. One such instance that grabs the reader’s attention is how Dr. Lumu was attending to more than ten people in his house at the same time the author was a house guest as well. The author’s gratitude towards Dr. Lumu even makes the reader thank him for his kindness.

Kristy Turner is another character in the book that the readers feel elated about. The author writes briefly about Kristy in one of the chapters where he decides to publish his journal. Being a traveler and an author herself, Semitti turns to her to find the motivation, dedication, consistency, and inspiration to publish the journal as a novel. Kristy turns out to be the author’s pillar of strength and courage when he finally decides to open up about various taboo topics through his vulnerable life moments.

The story’s rhythm flows smoothly, alternating between heavy soul-searching and lighthearted interactions that provide a raw balance to the memoir. The combination is captivating enough that readers cannot help but start on an escapade with the author, who opens up about how he unravels his relationships with others while having doubts, hesitation, and being vulnerable.

What strikes in thismemoir, is how he touches upon a multitude of themes and sub-themes that are so intricately woven into the primary narrative that they don’t weigh down on the readers. His exploration into the complex dimension of self-discovery positions him uniquely among the metaverse of self-help books opening about the same. The accounts, instances, and encounters mentioned by Semitti are not only a corridor for pain and acceptance but a celebration of life, especially when one accepts oneself the way one is. Apart from the inspirational edge that the book holds, the author can also be seen as an advocate for enjoying life to the fullest. His love for traveling is evident at various junctures in the novel, where he can be seen observing his travel destination through the ordinary. His depiction of mundane things and situations that he experiences in different countries with child-like fascination brings a liveliness to the book.

Another overpowering theme of the book is the author’s struggle with accepting his LGBTQ+ identity. Semitti revisits his hesitation to accept his identity since his adolescent years. From questioning his queer feelings as an issue that needs to be fixed to moving out of his home country, where he felt suffocated, to finally loving himself the way he is, the readers can empathize with the author and understand the lives of a community they might not be aware of. Finally, the way he deals throughout his life with the horrors of sickle cell disease shows his courage to convey fearlessly about life-threatening instances.

Wilson Semitti’s writing style is rare in its rawness and intimacy. The reader can experience honesty in his writing, which is conveyed through his accounts. Additionally, the setting of the small traditionalist fatherland adds to the story by conveying the additional struggles that the author experienced in identifying himself. The atmosphere inside the book is so realistic that the reader will have a feel for the values, beliefs, views, and biases of the town dwellers portrayed through detailed and accurate descriptions. The dynamics between the residents, the town’s traditions, and the local scenery that is meticulously depicted all contribute significantly to this ambiance. However, Semitti wrote about his real experiences, which were enough to create in the reader a combination of different feelings when experiencing them with him.

This is not your usual memoir, as it tries to explore some other sub-world out there that relates to the reader. This emotionally charged novel is not only a captivating read but is an extraordinary amalgamation of a unique writing style, a well-paced plot, an impactful depiction of incidents, and the ability to connect with the readers vulnerably.

Dive into the mesmerizing memoir, ‘A Boy Who Loved Me’ by Wilson Semitti, a poignant journey of love and self-discovery spanning two decades. Follow the gripping tale of a Ugandan man and an English boy, their love navigating cultural challenges and personal growth. Embrace the power of resilience and love—order your copy now on Amazon for a heartwarming and unforgettable read.

Read: An Interview with Wilson Semitti, Author of ‘A Boy Who Loved Me’

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Devanshi is a compassionate individual with insatiable curiosity. She sees the world as an intricate piece of poetry. Besides being an avid reader with an eye always searching for new genres to pick up, she is also a public speaker and is always up for a new adventure. Her interest in sociological observation of daily life and ordinary things and academic pursuit of sociology as a discipline has expanded her areas of interests to realms of religion, gender, stratification, technology and beauty standards. After a long day, she usually finds solace in listening to music.