My Review of Allan G Johnson’s Not From Here

23398022When Allan Johnson’s father, a former US Diplomat, tells him that it “makes no difference to me,” where his ashes can be scattered, it sets Johnson on a soul rending journey as he thinks about place and home and where they are truly located. The result is Not From Here a wondering memoir about grieving and identity, both personal and racial.

As Johnson traverses the upper reaches of the northern plains and sees and hears stories about his father and ancestors who come from Norway and settle on land once populated and used by Native Americans, an inner journey of doubt and guilt sweep over him as he attempts to reconciling the life his father had with the history of the area.

I had trouble following the storyline at first but as it unfolded I was able to “join” Johnson as he came to a reconciliation on a certain level about his father’s heritage and upbringing as well as his own. But at times the narrative was disjointed to me and that was a detraction.

I liked this book in some ways as trying to understand certain aspects of one’s family history that seems at odds with your own (in this case Johnson’s) values and beliefs you now hold. But it did not resonate with me beyond a certain level.

I rate this book an ‘okay’ read.

Note: I received a galley copy of this book from the publisher, Temple University Press via Net Galley in exchange for a review.

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