Karamo: My Story of Embracing Purpose, Healing, and Hope

Karamo: My Story of Embracing Purpose, Healing, and Hope

When Karamo Brown first auditioned for the casting directors of Netflix’s Queer Eye, he knew he wouldn’t win the role of culture expert by discussing art and theater. Instead he decided to redefine what ‘culture’ could — and should — mean for the show. He took a risk and declared, ‘I am culture.’ Karamo believes that culture is so much more than art museums and the ballet...

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Title:Karamo: My Story of Embracing Purpose, Healing, and Hope
Author:Karamo Brown
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Edition Language:English

Karamo: My Story of Embracing Purpose, Healing, and Hope Reviews

  • Caidyn (SEMI-HIATUS; BW Reviews; he/him/his)

    CW: intimate partner violence, drug use, and suicide

    This book has been on my radar forever. Why? Because I love Queer Eye, a show I never expected to love in the first place — but, that’s a story for another time. And, I’ll say it, Karamo never exactly stood out to me. I really liked him, but he never stood out to me. At least, not until the second season. Then, damn. He was making me cry every fucking episode because he was just so amazing. (Personally,

    CW: intimate partner violence, drug use, and suicide

    This book has been on my radar forever. Why? Because I love Queer Eye, a show I never expected to love in the first place — but, that’s a story for another time. And, I’ll say it, Karamo never exactly stood out to me. I really liked him, but he never stood out to me. At least, not until the second season. Then, damn. He was making me cry every fucking episode because he was just so amazing. (Personally, the episode with Skyler gave me life because, God, I wished that I had Karamo there on a few very tough trans moments.)

    Still, this book was on my radar because I knew that I’d love to read it. I wanted to read their stories because queer stories are, most of the time, fraught with many hard facts about queer life.

    It’s not exactly what you might think of it. It’s a semi-chronological order. I preface it with semi because it’s not completely. Each chapter is about a huge topic. So, a chapter is on colorism and talks about his childhood. Another is about his drug use, so he gets into details about that which takes him up to and past his kids. Then, one on how he found out and got his children. However, it’s not a chronological memoir. It’s more topical. That definitely works, but at times I’d have to take a step back to link moments together and to realize where things fell into place.

    Also, Queer Eye is a very small chapter of this book. He basically is putting out there that this isn’t all to his life. This isn’t the most important thing to know about him. This is just his latest chapter. And, personally, I liked that. One day, there will be a Queer Eye tell-all. I look forward to that day. However, that day isn’t here yet.

    I think what hit me the hardest in the book was the abuse cycle. Karamo’s father was an abusive man, but he wasn’t abusive to Karamo. At least, he never hit Karmo like he would hit his wife and daughters. But, Karamo grew up in the atmosphere where this was acceptable, then he carried that out into his adult life by being an abusive man. Until he realized that there was something wrong with this and he sought out change.

    And that’s the same with his drug use. He had that moment of clarity and got help. That was really driven by his children. The story of his children absolutely touched me to my core. It’s so beautiful and hard and yet touching. Because they really are a blended family, yet they are so very normal at the same time. It was beautiful to read.

    The final thing that stood out from this book was the diversity and importance of social work. I didn’t know before this book that Karamo is/was a social worker. Yep. He worked in the social work field and called himself one. I think it’s amazing because it shows just how amazing this field of work is. I’m biased, yes, but seriously. He decided to integrate the key of social work into a show that was very resistant to branching out from the arts. I love it and it shows when I reflect on Queer Eye.

    Besides, if this whole traditional social work thing fails, I could always go into politics or reality TV.

    But, seriously, this was a great memoir. I highly recommend it because it’s uplifting and very positive. It was just a great book to read.

  • Sahitya

    TW: domestic abuse, addiction, depression, suicide

    I loved reading Tan’s memoir Naturally Tan just a couple of weeks ago but I had completely forgotten that Karamo’s memoir was already out until I saw his interview with Trevor Noah. And I think I did the perfect thing deciding to listen to the audiobook because this was a wonderful experience.

    As the title suggests, this book is Karamo’s story of personal growth, healing and hope. It’s not told in a clearly chronological manner but each chapter d

    TW: domestic abuse, addiction, depression, suicide

    I loved reading Tan’s memoir Naturally Tan just a couple of weeks ago but I had completely forgotten that Karamo’s memoir was already out until I saw his interview with Trevor Noah. And I think I did the perfect thing deciding to listen to the audiobook because this was a wonderful experience.

    As the title suggests, this book is Karamo’s story of personal growth, healing and hope. It’s not told in a clearly chronological manner but each chapter deals with a different topic/issue that he has had to deal with in his life and his experiences overcoming them while growing up. In line with his personality and messaging on Queer Eye, he is very honest and open about many things that happened in his past, the mistakes that he made and how he challenged himself to become a better version of himself. He is candid about many different topics - feeling othered, colorism within the Black community, his relationship with the church and God, his struggle with addiction and depression, domestic partner abuse, fatherhood and finding his path in life. I was actually very surprised by how much detail he went into, especially about his addiction, suicidal thoughts and his abusive behavior towards his partners, but I think the way he learnt from his mistakes and decided to change himself is a good lesson for everyone struggling with similar issues.

    His chapter on fatherhood is probably the most profound one in the book. It’s probably unimaginable to understand what he must have felt when he suddenly found out he had a child, but the way he handled it with an open mind and lots of love is wonderful to read. It’s also possibly the most transformative moment in his life because he decided to model a better behavior for his children so that they had a better role model in their father than he himself did. His emphasis on being a loving but disciplined parent and encouraging his kid’s dreams without judging them is definitely something all parents can agree with or atleast aspire to be like. His chapter on his relationship with his fiancé is quite lovely and adorable and I can’t wait to see what a spectacle his wedding is going to be.

    On the show, he obviously is famous for being the one who makes everyone cry and this book gives us a better insight into why that is and where he is coming from. Despite his struggles, he has never lost hope and optimism and I think his social worker and psychotherapist background plays a major part in that. And even though he can come across as preachy sometime, his messages are quite relevant to everyone. His emphasis on being an empathetic listener and being open to learn is something that we can all benefit from. On the other hand, the way he talks about himself is also a great message. I love how he doesn’t hesitate from talking about his dreams and aspirations and how confident he is that he will be able to find a way to make them a reality. But the one take away that I took from this book is how important it is to be able to express and understand our feelings and emotions, and how not having the right vocabulary to do so can affect our mental health.

    Finally, I obviously recommend this book to anyone who loves Queer Eye and wants to know more about Karamo. Do keep in mind that this is a book about his life experiences and the show forms just one chapter in it. This is a book about healing, learning, being a better person and following the dreams and I’m sure everyone will find something in here to relate to or learn from. I listened to the audiobook and I highly recommend it because it phenomenal and he brings a lot of heart and soul into the narration.

  • Fabian

    In the past couple of years I've read a lot of celebrity memoirs but never talked about them, because most of them really disappointed me. I mean if you're going to write a full lenght book about your life & yourself, you better show me the good, the bad & the ugly. Tell me about the stuff that keeps you moving & what inspires you. Tell me about the things you've learned & the shit you've went through. Your struggles, the obstacles you've faced while trying to pursue your dreams.

    In the past couple of years I've read a lot of celebrity memoirs but never talked about them, because most of them really disappointed me. I mean if you're going to write a full lenght book about your life & yourself, you better show me the good, the bad & the ugly. Tell me about the stuff that keeps you moving & what inspires you. Tell me about the things you've learned & the shit you've went through. Your struggles, the obstacles you've faced while trying to pursue your dreams.

    I am just so glad that Karamo did all of the above. Like he really went in guurl. I caught myself several times while reading this book, clutching my pearls thinking ok you're really digging deep darling. And to me the best part about this book, Karamo doesn't tell you, to do this or that & then everything will be just fine. No. He shows you all the pain & trauma & discrimination he had to face & how he managed to get through all of it. If you ask me, that's truely inspirering.

    And though I'm pretty sure that young gay black men, will probably benefit the most from this book, I also do think that Karamos story offers something helpful for everybody. Even if it's just the reminder that no matter what, we all in our very own ways are perfectly designed.

  • Brandice

    When I heard Karamo Brown had a book coming out, I knew it was only a matter of time before I’d read it. Since I first watched the Netflix reboot of

    last year, I’ve been a huge fan of him, the show’s resident culture expert. Culture goes far beyond the arts, music, and hobbies, and Karamo helps reinforce this by digging deep into the emotions of each of the heroes on the show.

    is a memoir. Karamo details his childhood, adolescent

    When I heard Karamo Brown had a book coming out, I knew it was only a matter of time before I’d read it. Since I first watched the Netflix reboot of

    last year, I’ve been a huge fan of him, the show’s resident culture expert. Culture goes far beyond the arts, music, and hobbies, and Karamo helps reinforce this by digging deep into the emotions of each of the heroes on the show.

    is a memoir. Karamo details his childhood, adolescent years, and some adult life, including both personal and professional aspects. The tone is genuine and relatable. Karamo has struggled with family issues, addiction issues, and became a father at a young age, though he didn’t find out about his son until later in life. He has, for the most part, maintained a determined spirit while overcoming numerous challenges to help achieve his goals.

    There’s something for everyone in this book. Karamo reminds us it is ok to ask for help, to be vulnerable, and to forgive. These things are all part of the process of growth and it’s important to remain true to yourself along the way.

  • Sarah

    I blazed through this in about a day. The writing style is very casual, the font is larger and there are a fair amount of photos so it's a quick read. Karamo's story is fascinating. I think this would be great on audio if he read it. However, it was organized more by topic than by chronology which made it a little harder to keep track of what was going on when.

  • Ginny Beck

    It basically reads like a big long entertainment magazine profile piece (it literally ends with a pitch for his new podcast, lol) BUT I like the show and I enjoyed reading stories about his life, and if, like me, that’s what you’re looking for, it’s worth reading.

  • J

    I went into this book with an open mind. I thought that reading Karamo's story might give me more insight into him as a person and help me better appreciate his role on Queer Eye. Instead, it kind of made me like him even less.

    His story is filled with times when he has done wrong--been a drug addict, oversexed, and an abuser--but each time he seemed to skate by consequence-free. He never seems to take responsibility for his actions and often slyly explains them away by blaming some external fact

    I went into this book with an open mind. I thought that reading Karamo's story might give me more insight into him as a person and help me better appreciate his role on Queer Eye. Instead, it kind of made me like him even less.

    His story is filled with times when he has done wrong--been a drug addict, oversexed, and an abuser--but each time he seemed to skate by consequence-free. He never seems to take responsibility for his actions and often slyly explains them away by blaming some external factor ('No one told me to stop doing drugs'; 'I was playing into an archetype'; 'My dad abused my mom so...'). Other times when he faced challenges, he just... resolved to make a change, right there on the spot. He's "decisive," which he will remind you half a dozen times here.

    I didn't find this book to be insightful, authentic, or inspiring. And perhaps worst of all, the writing was amateurish and very poorly edited, like it was self-published fan fiction. My ultimate takeaway after reading this is that Karamo is an expert in only one thing: irrational, unwavering confidence. It's gotten him this far, I guess.

  • Hannah Smith

    Audiobook version.

    Kind of wish I didn't read this. It's not very well-written and very repetitive, self-satisfying and corny. Sorry Karamo.

  • Kelly

    Such a fantastic memoir, whether or not you're a Queer Eye fan. Karamo shares his life story, beginning with a loving family that eventually breaks apart due to addiction and abuse. He's not afraid to talk about his own experiences, too, with drugs and alcohol and how he earned a reputation as "crazy" while on MTV's THE REAL WORLD (which wasn't his last stint with reality TV before Queer Eye). I was especially moved with the story of how he learned he was a father, and how he took that responsib

    Such a fantastic memoir, whether or not you're a Queer Eye fan. Karamo shares his life story, beginning with a loving family that eventually breaks apart due to addiction and abuse. He's not afraid to talk about his own experiences, too, with drugs and alcohol and how he earned a reputation as "crazy" while on MTV's THE REAL WORLD (which wasn't his last stint with reality TV before Queer Eye). I was especially moved with the story of how he learned he was a father, and how he took that responsibility on a second time voluntarily. There's really great stuff in here, too, about not only being gay, but also about colorism and what it's like being a dark skinned gay man.

    Touching, encouraging, and warm, it's a nice peek at how someone defines "culture" and puts himself at the center of it -- and why that center of culture from the outside world to the inside is such a welcome shift.

  • Tib

    I'm not going to give this a star rating, because I feel really weird rating someone's life story. But, I will discuss how much I enjoyed reading the book.

    I listened to the audiobook mostly because it was read by Karamo himself and I will always listen to the audiobook over reading the physical book if the author reads the book themselves. I think it's the best experience because you get to hear how the story is intended to sound.

    Anyway, I picked

    I'm not going to give this a star rating, because I feel really weird rating someone's life story. But, I will discuss how much I enjoyed reading the book.

    I listened to the audiobook mostly because it was read by Karamo himself and I will always listen to the audiobook over reading the physical book if the author reads the book themselves. I think it's the best experience because you get to hear how the story is intended to sound.

    Anyway, I picked this up because of my love of

    which I found I liked a lot better than

    and I think it largely has to do with Karamo. He really adds a whole other level to the make overs they do for each episodes hero. Karamo, like the other guys in the Fab Five would mention bits and pieces of his past over the past three seasons and he always seemed like an interesting person. Then he wrote a book.

    Karamo's life from childhood to

    was an absolutely wild ride from start to finish from an abusive father (he hit his mother, but she and his sisters tried their best to keep him out of it), to his struggles with addiction with weed, alcohol, and eventually cocaine, to dealing with colorism within his own family. Each chapter is filled with honesty and grace, even when he's talking about not so great points in his life, and has a lot of tips on how to better yourself as well. Only Karamo can write a memoir with a sub category of self help. He talks about his role on

    and how that affected him afterwards, and how he managed to get to audition for

    (which was a fate thing, I swear). He talks about some dark and heavy things as well, but does so in a way that does his best to try and be as to be as little triggering as he can possibly be and still discuss those topics.

    This was such a great read and I highly recommend it.

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