This is one of the best autobiographical books I have read so far. And I do love reading biographies and autobiographies. In the Book Reviews section, there are only some such books listed. I’ll be adding more. “Will” by Will Smith has the most important feature that makes an autobiography worth reading: sincerity.
I’m not saying that a person should lay out all of their transgressions, sins, and ugly things in front of readers. Even if stars decide to share the story of their lives, it doesn’t mean that they have some obligation to tell all the details. Writing a book isn’t the same as participating in a court trial. But there is absolutely no added value in reading an autobiography on the pages of which there isn’t a person who’s written it.
Will Smith is definitely on every page of this book. And his personality shines brightly from each word and between the lines.
He begins his story with an uplifting episode from his childhood. His father passes on parental wisdom on him and his brother: a piece of wisdom that is to accompany Will during his whole life. I can easily imagine readers nodding contentedly at the end of the introductory chapter. And then – boom! – you are hit by a bombshell. That wise man, Will Smith’s father, who, as we were made to believe, laid the foundation for his son’s future success, turns out to be not a heroic father figure. Not heroic at all.
What I especially loved in this book is that the author labels neither people nor events. His narration is a picture, not a judgement. While you read, you can’t say who’s a good guy and who’s a bad one. And it buys you over. The truth is simple, and maybe that’s why it’s so difficult to believe it: people aren’t good or bad. We all are – people.
Will Smith hasn’t become a star in one day. He hasn’t become a star in something that he’d chosen to be his one and only true calling. He’s achieved everything he’d wanted to have because the most important thing for him wasn’t to become someone specific: an actor, a singer, or a businessman. The most important thing for him was to become a man he could respect.
Reading this book was a deeply emotional and compelling journey.