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*This is a book review of Will by Will Smith & Mark Manson.

Quick Facts

Authors: Will Smith, Mark Manson
Release Date: November 9, 2021
Genre: Autobiography
Number of Pages: 432
SJ Rating: 64%

The Synopsis

With the help of Mark Manson, join Will Smith as he recounts the most pivotal moments of his life, leading up to his 50th birthday.

Some of y’all about to be real mad at me for this review, but that’s okay. You’ve already seen my initial rating.

The Good

First great thing: my decision to borrow this book from the library. It was definitely a better decision to borrow the memoir than purchasing it.

I found a couple of things to appreciate throughout my time reading. For example, I thoroughly enjoyed the references to movies and non-Will Smith works to describe people in his real life. Also, I enjoyed the mini history lessons, like how DJing and the evolution of hip-hop started. He also shared the brief history of DJ Jazzy Jeff, which I really liked; he’s always seemed like a nice guy.

Going with the consistent historical elements, as a Christian, I also appreciated the Biblical parallels, such as the mention of Sodom & Gomorrah and Jericho, and the use of other stories, fables, etc. to get his point across.

Of course, I loved The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air trivia, like the situation with Jeff and the Aztec-patterned shirt.

Because of this book, “Goofy-gorgeous-genius thing” lives in my head rent-free. He used the term to describe someone named Melanie Parker, who sounded like his first love (someone he publicly apologizes to in this book). To be real—and slightly confident?—whenever I think about that phrase, I think about myself.

The beautiful think about this book is it shows how self-aware he is, especially now that he’s older and wiser. The addition of the pictures in this memoir definitely adds some truth to everything he writes; it’s like the evidence needed to support his thesis statement.

The recounting of him realizing the power of words was a necessary reminder for me. I need to do better with my words, in every area of my life. I’ve also realized that I talk a lot out of fear and overcompensation like him. He says, “Words can affect how people view themselves, how they treat each other, how they navigate the world. Words can build people up, or they can tear them down.”

I write that as I’m about to say what I didn’t like about the book…

The Bad

It’s not the worst thing in the world, but I’m not the biggest fan of the font. It didn’t match the vibe and contents of the memoir. Somehow, it reminded me of books I read in the fifth grade.

There were moments where he switches from past tense to present tense and back, and I’m not sure how I feel about it. Again, it definitely reminds me of the things I wrote in my late elementary/early middle school years (even though I also make this mistake to this day).

Throughout the memoir, there are quite a few spelling and grammar errors. For example, on page eighty-six, he says, “We were intimated and in awe…”. “Intimate” is a word, but I can almost guarantee he meant “intimidated.”

The Overall

Vulnerable. Slightly arrogant. Mildly apologetic.

If I had to pick three words/phrases to describe this memoir, it would be the words above.

Will Smith has gotten a lot of heat for a lot of things over the years (even before The Slap), and this book feels like a large defense for his actions—at least the first half of it.

I felt like there were a lot of things left unsaid, like his relationship with his kids while he was taking a break from his relationship with Jada or how his relationships with DJ Jazzy Jeff and Alfonso Ribeiro have changed over the years.

Honestly, the only reason I finished this book as fast as I did is because I needed to get it back to the library.

Next book to be read and reviewed: Beach Read by Emily Henry

“The ability to envision and imagine a brighter day gives meaning to our suffering and renders it bearable.”

– Will Smith

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