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Corey Brookshire is the protagonist in B.W. McKay’s engaging and well-written novel, Digging Deep Within: A Story of Courage and Liberation. McKay has created a character that debunks stereotypes not only about African American men, but men in general. Corey has never seen the inside of a jail or prison. Corey isn’t anyone’s baby’s daddy. Corey isn’t grappling with alcoholism or drug addiction. He doesn’t wear sagging pants, and he doesn’t refer to women as the “b” word. He’s the antithesis of the aforementioned. He’s a young professional who’s a rising star in his company’s marketing department and, he’s a loyal and loving husband to his wife, Leslie. Is he perfect? No—far from it. But he’s a three-dimensional character that you will fall in love with while you go on his journey of uncovering and discovering.
Corey, although successful, is struggling to come to terms with the death of his mother, childhood events that filled him with humiliation and shame, and his tumultuous, basically nonexistent relationship with his father. Moreover, Corey at his core wants to do more than work for someone else’s company. He wants his own business, but because of unresolved issues he’s hard pressed to move ahead with his plans.
McKay grabbed me from the opening with a scene wherein Corey is being awakened by his wife, Leslie. I love their relationship and I appreciated McKay writing a relationship between an African American man and an African American woman that albeit is not perfect, but real and supportive. His sister Saige is also a likeable character and becomes an inspiration to Corey when she opens up her own business. In fact, the book is full of strong, loveable and supportive women.
As the story unfolds, Corey makes a commitment to see a therapist regarding his issues. Dr. Philemon is wonderfully written. He helps Corey navigate through his feelings, encouraging him to open up and not be afraid to let his feelings rise to the surface. This is the highlight of the book and it is a powerful message, being that men are socialized to be strong, to keep a stiff upper lip, keep it bottled up, and don’t cry! Unfortunately, because of this, many men suffer in silence. That was the case for Corey. As a child his father failed the family on numerous occasions, causing them to be evicted from home after home and his worst offence was failing to be there when Corey and Saige’s mother died.
The novel is fast-paced and the scenes at Ennis Corporation where Corey works are riveting and will have you on the edge of your seat while you root for Corey to get over one obstacle after another while he manages a huge deal he brokers for the company. Juggling family life, his career, and sessions with Dr. Philemon, kept Corey on his toes and me turning the pages, while I anxiously read on to see if Corey would be able to conquer his demons and realize his entrepreneurial dream. Did he? You’ll have to read the book to find out.