Growing Up X

Front Cover
Ballantine Publishing Group, 2002 - Biography & Autobiography - 235 pages

February 21, 1965–Malcolm X is assassinated in Harlem’s Audubon ballroom, becoming even more inspiring a figure in death than he has been in life.

June 23, 1997–After surviving for a remarkable twenty-two days, his widow, Betty Shabazz, dies of burns suffered in a fire set by her own grandson.

In the years between, their six daughters reach adulthood, forged by the memory of their parents’ love, the meaning of their cause, and the power of their faith. Now, at long last, one of them has recorded that touching and tumultuous journey in an unforgettable memoir, Growing Up X.

Born in 1962, Ilyasah was the middle Shabazz child, a rambunctious live-wire and self-described “Mommy’s girl” who fought for–and won–attention in an all-female household, a warm place as full of fun as learning, chaos, and love. From the first days after her father’s death left the family famous (and homeless) to the years of private schools and personal bodyguards . . . from studying the Muslim faith to understanding the mystery of boys . . . from coming to terms with her father’s murder to the shock of her mother’s passing, Ilyasah’s life is one of stunning contradictions: deprived and privileged, unique and endearingly normal.

Here is a girl carrying on the legacy of a renowned father and indomitable mother while navigating childhood and, along the way, learning to do the Hustle. Here is a child who was a different color from other kids at camp and then, years later, a young woman not radical enough for her college classmates. Above all else, here is a tribute to a mother of almost unimaginable forbearance, a woman who “from that day at the Audubon when she heard the shots and threw her body on our own, [never] stopped shielding her children.”

Written with great warmth and simplicity–and featuring reminiscences of famous friends, colleagues, and acquaintances like Coretta Scott King, Muhammad Ali, and Spike Lee–Growing Up X is a fascinating, first-ever look at a family many have admired from afar . . . and never seen so close.

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User Review  - Kirkus

Malcolm X's daughter follows her father's famed Autobiography with a forgettable memoir, plainly written and significantly lacking a narrative arc.Although Shabazz grows up in these pages, she doesn't ... Read full review


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About the author (2002)

Ilyasah Shabazz holds a Master of Science degree in Education and Human Resource Development from Fordham University. She is the Director of Public Affairs and Special Events for the City of Mount Vernon, New York.

Kim McLarin is the author of the novels Taming It Down and Meeting of the Waters. She formerly worked as a journalist for The New York Times, The Philadelphia Inquirer, and the Associated Press. She lives with her family outside of Boston, Mass.

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