It’s About Time is a work of non-fiction in the memoir subgenre. It is best suited to the general adult reading audience and was penned by author Mickey Bridges. In this fascinating true story of living through family distress and entering the dangerous criminal world of Compton, California in the 1950s and 60s, we meet and follow author Mickey Bridges from a broken childhood into a life of crime. As he reflects on his actions, emotions, and motivations after time on the inside, the reader gains a unique insight into a life left to run a wild and misguided course and the incredible strength of character that it took to start thinking more clearly. What results is a book about taking a long hard look in the mirror, challenging the demons of the past, and rising up from the hand that life has dealt you.
Author Mickey Bridges has led the kind of life that most of us could never dream of and can scarcely imagine, and as such, there’s a risk that memoirs of this nature can become a little abstract or surreal for the average reader. But not so in It’s About Time, where Bridges pays special attention to grounding his work in reality with pathos, emotion, and raw honesty. One feature of the work which I particularly admired was the author’s candid account of his childhood and parental relationships, which were fraught with neglect, abandonment, and the lack of a caring, guiding hand. As such, Mickey becomes a tough and self-reliant youngster who will do whatever it takes to get by, and some of the circumstances he finds himself in are heartbreaking. But despite all the pain, oppression, and carnage around him, this incredible book proves the power of self-reflection and the capacity for change we all possess. Overall, I’d strongly recommend It’s About Time to readers who are interested in true crime, tales of grit, perseverance, and rebirth, and well-written memoirs that are straight from the soul.
Reviewed by K.C. Finn for Readers' Favorite
In this memoir, a former drug dealer who is now a real estate broker, musician, and ordained minister explores crime, punishment, and salvation.
Born in 1950 and raised in Compton, California, Bridges reports that his first encounter with the wrong side of the law was when he was 6 years old and tried to shoplift a generator for his bike. “From that point forward,” he writes, “I was in and out of trouble with the authorities”—until he won admission to a resident-release program run by the University of California at Santa Barbara. At 26, he left the Federal Correctional Institution in Pleasanton, California, for the final time and eventually began composing this memoir during his years at the university at the suggestion of sociology professor Dr. William T. Beilby. This book offers the disquieting life-on-the-streets story of a young boy left to his own devices too early, whose parents’ on-again, off-again marriage resulted in a chaotic home life. His mother was frequently hospitalized for undefined mental and/or physical illnesses. In 1956, the author’s father, Elmo, opened a record shop in Compton, where Bridges spent many hours. In the back room, Elmo ran a rowdy gambling parlor. Despite his father’s admonitions to remain in the record store, the youngster was drawn to the seedy back den “to listen to the foul language, smell the smoke, and learn the ways of the world.” The crudest language in this gritty, stirring memoir can be found in Bridges’ re-creations of the gambling room dialogue. He was similarly in thrall to the excitement of drugs and the money and flashy cars that trafficking could provide, all of which he describes in minute detail. Interestingly, the strong street language is in stark contrast to the elaborately polite dialogue, with a touch of humility, used in conversations with adults or new friends. Perhaps the most dispiriting aspect of the book is how young Bridges and his friends were—barely in their early teens—when they entered the adult world of drugs, alcohol, sex, and jail. The wonder is that the author survived, found a career path, and thrived.
An autobiography that combines a disturbing, graphic crime account with an inspiring story of redemption.
Reviewed by Kirkus Reviews
It's About Time is a memoir about a boy coming of age in Compton, California in the 1950s and 60s. Readers who expect the usual blend of family experiences and social integration will find that Mickey Bridges provides an unusually harrowing and detailed story. It follows a boy who finds himself on the wrong side of the tracks, heading for disaster as he impregnates a girl, drops out of school, moves in and out of prison, and eventually lands in a federal penitentiary.
For most, this would be the end of the story (and the end of the line). Mickey doesn't know how to forge a better life for himself, and every choice he makes just lands him deeper into crime and trouble.
Readers will find that the meat of this memoir lies not in how this life goes off-rails, but in the process through which he grows into a better life for himself, against all odds.
He wants to do his time and gain freedom, but this goal is fraught with setbacks, even in prison. As he finds a way out, Bridges documents his character's progress based on real-world events, his own background, and his own work with disadvantaged students.
Bridges found more than a way out. He found God and a meaningful life work that allowed him to help others in similar situations. This occurred even in a prison environment because Bridges took advantage of a program and approach that created a foundation for achievement both within and beyond the prison's walls: "After my mother passed away, I knew it was time for me to get down to business. I wanted to get out of prison in the shortest amount of time possible. I needed to prepare myself to be able to deal with the rest of my life without my mother’s help, guidance, or support. I vowed to do the best program I could. I worked every day on the trade line and when I was off, I would read the Bible or practice on my saxophone or study. I didn’t spend a great deal of time associating with the other inmates, as I was preoccupied with doing my own program."
The result is an inspiring memoir that shows how even a life in dire straits can recover and blossom into a giving, meaningful experience.
Libraries seeking memoirs of personal and spiritual transformation will find It's About Time an excellent selection. But its real value lies in insights that lend to book club discussions both within and outside the prison system. A classroom assignment of this memoir at the high school level would also provide much food for thought and debate.
It's About Time
Reviewed by Diane Donovan's Bookshelf