Member Reviews

A moving, provocative, and tender memoir, Sink was an inimitable example of the genre that stayed with me long after I finished.

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This memoir was gutwrenching and honest. I had no prior knowledge of the author before reading the amount of trauma the author experienced was intense and I didn't see it coming. I hope that the author has gotten some solace from telling their story.

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A very creative approach to memoir. The sentence structure felt story-appropriate. A powerful story, sadly at times a common one, about surviving childhood and finding your way into a better adulthood.

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Thank you to Net Galley and Grand Central Publishing for the ARC in exchange for my honest review. We are introduced to Joey who lives in Philadelphia an intergenerational family, his grandfather being the patriarch. He is an angry, abusive, no nonsense and doesn't believe in tears. They all depend on him as he is the pays for what little they have. Joey's mother has drug issues and is a sex-worker. We follow him as a child and teenager as he goes through life dealing with poverty, abuse, racism but he finds joy and solace in the world of video games, comics, and anime. He likens the quests in the games to Moby Dick. By being told mainly in the third person, it feels more like a novel yet I needed to remind myself that this is a memoir. It's a difficult read due to the conditions of Joey's life but we see his life through his eyes, the ordinary and regular and him find glimmers of hope and happiness through it all.

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I did enjoy the book but it was very sad. It is well written and compelling but readers should be aware of what they are getting in to with his one.

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This is beautifully and fascinatingly written, but it made me so sad, I just couldn't get through it. If you go through A Little Life and/or have an interest in nerd culture, you'll be just fine. Hoping to pick it back up when I'm in a better headspace.

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I could not finish enough of this book to be able to leave a comprehensive review, but I hope it finds its audience and I am grateful to NetGalley and the publisher for the opportunity to read an advance copy.

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Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for an advance reader's copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

I am sorry for the inconvenience but I don’t have the time to read this anymore and have lost interest in the concept. I believe that it would benefit your book more if I did not skim your book and write a rushed review. Again, I am sorry for the inconvenience.

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This memoir is raw and difficult to read in that the horrid conditions in which the author had to grow up no child should experience. I appreciate that he is now successful despite this upbringing. However, this book is also difficult to read in that the writing was choppy and hard to follow. Thank you Netgalley for they opportunity to read this ARC in exchange for an honest review. 2 Stars

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Debut author Joseph Earl Thomas writes about coming of age in the late '90s in Philadelphia. This is a remarkable memoir told in third person POV in a chronological series of vignettes. A "little black man in training" who relies on his vivid imagination to survive a cruel and chaotic childhood in miserable conditions, the narrator brings us along on his journey to self-knowledge with unwavering candor. Young Joey uses nerd culture -- Pokemon, video games, anime -- as means of escape. Connections he makes with these characters and fellow nerds help him to survive his childhood and adolescence. Although lyrical and masterfully structured, this book is not easy. Nonetheless, it's an incredibly worthwhile read about a rough path to survival. 

[Thanks to Grand Central Publishing and NetGalley for an opportunity to read an advanced reader copy and share my opinion of this book.]

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What I appreciated most about this book is how Thomas does not let his reader off the hook. The book is filled with stories of uncomfortable moments and traumatic experiences that would be easier to look away from than to reckon with. Thomas demands that we not only look, but really see what is going on with young Joey. In SINK we are asked to be a witness to Thomas' childhood and more broadly the childhood experiences of many kids we'd rather dismiss or throw away. The kids who don't fit our expectations.


In SINK Thomas employs the third person to talk about his younger self, Joey, which is a strong choice that helped me think about what I was reading without feeling too attached. I also think more broadly Thomas is an extremely strong writer. He can bring up a lot of emotion and visceral response in a few words and sentences.


While I personally didn't mind that the book is graphic and uncomfortable in its depictions of physical and sexual violence, it should be noted that that is very present in the book.

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God what a sad memoir - a young boy grows up in poverty with a mother on drugs - not an easy read - but powerful

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A raw heart wrenching memoir his childhood full of so much disfunction so much pain.There were times I had to put the book down and walk away some scenes were too hard to read.The author is a strong young man aand his writing this memoir is a true victory for him having survived to tell his story.#netgalley #sink

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Joseph Earl Thomas wants to connection. He wants a safe place to play and explore. He wants food to eat.

But he has none of that.

The grownups in his life harm much more frequently than they help, and Joseph struggles to meet his own basic needs while painfully carving his path through adolescence.

In this memoir, he bares it all.

1️⃣ I read a lot of heavy books. And they typically don’t really get to me. But. Wow. The first portion of Thomas’ story is so bleak I considered stopping.

2️⃣ And at that point, Thomas realizes the reader must be barely hanging on because he jumps in with a quick note. And the story does lighten a slight bit moving forward.

3️⃣ I appreciate how honest Thomas is. He lays bare all aspects of his life from this time period—and, as you’d expect from any adolescence—much of it is not flattering. Together, these truths create such a vivid portrait of his childhood.

4️⃣ This is a fairly short book, but you may need to take it a bit slow. Occasional breaks might be necessary.

5️⃣ In the end, I’m glad that I read this one. It’s sad. It’s difficult. But it’s also a beautiful story about a Black boy eschewing toxic standards and leaning into who he is.

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How do we free ourselves from our past? How do we try to overcome our past? How do we make our own lives after trauma? This novel gives us all hope, hope that we can break free from our past and find something, no matter what it is, to make our own and to become our true selves.

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Joseph Earle Thomas had a traumatic childhood. This memoir is a heart breaking journey of a addict mother and a childhood of physical and mental abuse. Joseph Earle Thomas tells us his life in third person which was a little different but with a childhood like that I can see why. This book was hard to read at times but that was the life Joesph Earle Thomas lived. My favorite part of this is how Joseph Earle Thomas came out on the other end. He is the light from darkness!

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I’ve never read a memoir like this. Told from the third person, Joseph Earl Thomas captures the abuse and depravity he experienced growing up in a world filled with pain.

Did I like this? Yes. First I love memoirs and I like literary fiction…this is told in snapshots and without a timeline, it can be hard to follow. It’s also not a x happened and then y happened so now we are at z. The words on the page are more storytelling then memoir. I think a broader audience will struggle to connect with this.

The market for a niche book like this is there, and I wish the author the best. No one deserves any of what happened to him.

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This is going to be extremely niche for those who love it, so not a good fit for our libraries. But the people who love it are REALLY going to love it. The debut has a lot of good things going for it!

Thank you to NetGalley and Grand Central Publishing for the ARC.

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The author obviously had a traumatic upbringing, from having a mother dealing with addiction to unsanitary living conditions to ongoing verbal and physical abuse. He tells his story from a third person perspective, and while I understand that doing so may have made it easier for him to tell, it left a disconnect for me as the reader.

I do think it’s an important story to tell either way because I’m sure many will connect with what he went through. I’ve already recommended it to a friend who can relate to some aspects of his life and he plans to read it when it’s released.

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I am so appreciative to have gotten a glimpse into this author’s childhood world. At first I wasn’t sure how I felt about reading a memoir written in third person. It had the effect of turning his story into a literary version of a video game with Joey as the main character. The challenges he must overcome are truly horrifying, from cockroach infested living quarters and neighborhood bullies to a substance-addicted Popop and Ganny and the angst of growing up with no safe haven outside his own games and fascination with various short-lived pets. Even in third person, the author manages to not hold the reader at a distance. His prose is vulnerable and vivid, giving the reader an intimate look at parts of humanity that make us want to turn our heads. While the obstacles never let up, Joey has incredible insight into relationships. I loved watching his fantasy version of human connection get grounded in real life and friendship. Thank you to NetGalley and Grand Central Publishing for the opportunity to read in exchange for an honest review.

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