I Don’t Belong to You: Quiet the Noise and Find Your Voice. (2017). Keke Palmer. New York, NY: North Star Way. 320 pp. $24.99 ISBN 978-1-5011-4539-1
Reviewed By: Dene Roseburr-Olotu
Diversity Academic Support
Oklahoma State University
“I am who I am…” (Palmer, 2017, p. VII). These five simple words deftly summarize perhaps the most difficult challenge of a person’s existential life – learning to acknowledge and accept who you truly are. In I Don’t Belong to You: Quiet the Noise and Find Your Voice, Keke Palmer, an award-winning actress, shares her experiences in a bid to inspire readers on their quest to self-discovery and self-love.
Throughout the book, Palmer shares very personal accounts of both herself and her family, who lived in Chicago section eight housing before deciding to move to California so she might more easily pursue her acting career. With a retroactive lens, she examines how the move upended the balance of her familial structure and challenged her own personal identity. She talks through how her close relationships with her mom and grandmother, and consequently their own struggles and experiences, shaped her views on sexuality and spirituality. Palmer, who is surprisingly transparent about her struggle with depression and co-dependency, makes it clear that oftentimes confidence and even self-identity are the results of external perspectives and expectations. She insists that the road to self-discovery will only become clearer when a person truly challenges the stereotypes and roles bestowed by society.
While recalling her struggles and her beliefs, Palmer carefully imparts words of wisdom by recounting lessons learned throughout her experiences. Although much of the advice comes as slightly altered versions of phrases that most have heard before, there are many moments when Palmer’s words strike a deep chord. One of these instances comes relatively early in the narrative when Palmer advises that success in following one’s passion often hinges on the ability to “respectfully disagree when you experience… an unfair no” (p. 7). To an advisor reading this passage, this statement may immediately bring to mind Angela Duckworth’s interpretation of grit or the commitment to persevere in spite of adversity (Duckworth, 2016). Palmer observes, “Following your passion is not a rational act” (p. 116). However, she reiterates that perseverance is paramount to not only success but also discovering your true self.
In a moment of poignant clarity Palmer declares, “I’m always changing and I’m sure you are too” (p. 88). The stunning truth of this confession gives way to the realization that advisors must be committed to identifying, adapting, and adequately servicing their students’ changing needs and goals.
Filled with hashtags, emojis and song lyrics, I Don’t Belong to You: Quiet the Noise and Find Your Voice is a colorfully reflective illustration of how the experiences and lessons of one (Palmer) can translate to another (the reader). Palmer is able to pull the reader into her own world with glimpses of her struggles and triumphs all the while expounding on one sincere assertion – live your own truth.
Duckworth, A. (2016). Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance. New York, NY. Scribner.