"Up Home: One Girl's Journey" is Ruth J. Simmons' debut memoir that delves into her remarkable life journey from humble beginnings as the youngest of 12 children born to sharecropping parents in Grapeland, Texas, to becoming the first Black president of an Ivy League university. The memoir explores the challenges of straddling the divide between her origins and her accomplishments, offering a heartfelt tribute to the individuals who supported her in transcending poverty. Simmons emphasizes the pivotal role educators played in her life, highlighting their commitment to their communities rather than just their polished diction. Through self-reflective moments, she questions whether she judged her upbringing too harshly and credits her mother's sacrifices for her success. Despite the immense disparity between her past and present, Simmons maintains a deep connection to her roots, providing valuable insights for those navigating the complex relationship between their difficult pasts and triumphant presents. "Up Home" is a measured and thoughtful account that underscores the significance of cherishing one's origins amid unprecedented success.

September 15, 2023 — Coco Ogden