The title of Kinky Roots, by Ingrid Arlington, sets the tone of a fascinating memoir that contains philosophical gems. The author was reared in Zimbabwe and Johannesburg, South Africa, and is of African heritage and culture, thus her kinky hair and her kinky family heritage. “Growing up, your hair was your crown…The straighter and the longer it was, the better”…or “it was kinky, curly, frizzy or otherwise known as nappy.”
This is a feisty and delightfully irreverent memoir. It is a collage of memories, ruminations, vignettes, and character sketches, encompassing a lifetime of poignant observations by a first-rate writer. Arlington shows herself as an unstoppable force tethered to an iron will. She has an exceptional ability to clearly see the very inner workings of people and the things they might rather keep hidden. Arlington writes with a powerful and striking prose style. Her memoir is very much a book about how to grow up, think, and ‘be’ (especially if you appreciate a complex, funny, intellectual narrator). It’s a book about love, discovery, anger, forgiveness, and integrating all kinds of contradictions into a workable self.