The heart-wrenching story of one man’s abuse and neglect as a child growing up in Guyana, at the hands of his violent, repressed father. Out of the Jungle follows Rayfield Walker’s escape to New York City, where he finds success as a star student and catharsis in painting, filmmaking, and writing. His accounts of repeated verbal, mental, and physical abuse offer a grim portrait of life in rural Guyana. His father expressed the pain of a gay man living in an unforgiving, homophobic society on young Rayfield, including daily beatings and locking the child in the kitchen cupboard for hours at a time. Rayfield also endured sexual assault at the hands of close friends and relatives. Despite enduring horrifying and repeated abuse, Rayfield fought for his life with an iron will and utter determination. He knew there had to be something better. He found refuge in his grandparents’ home, where his grandmother instilled in him important virtues and strength of character. Finally, after accepting the truth embedded in the advice his grandmother had given him-Remembering where you came from can give you strength; clinging to the past only leads to stagnation-he eventually found a path out. In New York, with the help of those who care for him, Rayfield learns to grab hold of his dreams and to find comfort in the momentum needed to reach his next goal, believing that no one knows what they will experience, accomplish, or who they can become.
Because of this book, I have created a whole new Category. Read When Safe. Some stories NEED to be told, like Rayfield’s, but I also can’t tell every single person to go run out and buy this because every single page could be triggering. So proceed with caution. Read When Safe–whether that means in your surroundings, life, and/or mind.***
The moment I saw Rayfield’s request email cross my inbox, I knew I had to read his book. Like I said above, his is a story that needs to be told and shared. But guys, it’s so horrific. He didn’t just suffer abuse under one hand, but many. Not just beatings, but sexual violence as well, and all the gaslighting that went with it. This is a short book, but the weight of it is crushing.
The amount of sexual abuse in Rayfield’s story was unbelievable (not that I didn’t believe him, it just shook me)–so I looked up Guyana Abuse. There are pages and pages of articles about child abuse in his country. It is devastating, that this might be one book, but it is not a single story.
Thankfully, Rayfield’s book does end with hope. He was able to find mentors in America, and is following his dreams. This book is just the first of many, I suspect, and there will be much more greatness to come from this young man. Maybe we’ll even seen his name on the big screen credits some day.
When you’re safe, read this book. Mr. Walker has much to teach us about what happens in his home country–let’s make his voice heard.
Read the World: Guyana
The author provided a copy of the book for my unbiased review. This post contains affiliate links.
***I’ll be adding a few other books that I have previously reviewed to that Category as well.