Matthew Aaron Goodman: Hold Love Strong

January 29, 2010 by  
Filed under Fiction

141656203601_sx140_sy225_sclzzzzzzz_978-1416562030 – Hardcover  – Simon & Schuster Touchstone – $24.99

This is flat out one of the best books I have read in a long time.  It begins with an incredible story that grabs you instantly and will not let go.  I felt like I was holding my breath almost throughout the book.  Matthew Aaron Goodman avoids cliches at every turn, loves his characters, demands respect for them from beginning to end, but never hides from the pain and suffering they experience.  As readers, we feel like we are living in, through and with his characters, which is a triumph of both the author’s imagination and his deeply felt love for the people he writes about.

It’s difficult to believe that this is Goodman’s first novel.  His mastery of language, his ability to inhabit the hearts and souls of his characters, and the simple clarity of his voice are all remarkable for any author, much less a first novelist.  I was blown away, and have been recommending this book widely to friends and colleagues.

Cornel West gave it a very fine blurb that is worth reprinting here: “Matthew Aaron Goodman’s Hold Love Strong is a powerful and poignant story of the gallant Abraham who struggles on the night side of American society yet exudes a light of genuine hope. Goodman is an activist and artist who never loses sight of the humanity of those either imprisoned or free!”

I also recommend readers to visit Matthew’s own site where you can read some more of his work.  In 2007, working hand and hand with formerly incarcerated men and women, Matthew created The Leadership Alliance, a community empowerment project  that unites recently freed people with volunteer partners.  And there is a wonderful review of Hold Love Strong by Nina Sankovitch on Readiac that I think describes perfectly the power and impact this book can have on readers.

In my interview with Matthew, we talked about his own life story to help understand how he came to write Hold Love Strong, the work he has done in New York communities and elsewhere, and alot about the book itself, its characters and story, and of course what he is working on now.  He is as compelling talking about his work and ideas as he is writing about them.

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