As the cliché goes, a picture is worth a thousand words, but a picture rarely tells the full story.
This was the case of the Lewis family when a picture (selfie) of Kordale Lewis and his significant other performing their morning ritual of combing their children’s hair went viral on the internet.
It should also be made clear that Kordale Lewis is a homosexual man living with his partner, Kaleb, in Atlanta, Ga. The photo’s rise to viral popularity in early January offered a glimpse of the normalcy of same-gender households, making the couple seem like beacons of hope. They were instant celebrities in the LBGT community.
In spite of their viral success, the family was still subject to negative opinions regarding their relationship. Instead of dwelling on the harsh comments, Lewis embraced the positive ones and lashed back. He wrote a memoir, ironically titled “Picture Perfect?”
Why the question mark? Lewis has a partner, a family and house; many would call that the American Dream. But for Kordale Lewis, that is only the end result.
In his novella, Lewis describes a world “B.K.” (Before Kaleb) and uses it as a prologue leading directly to the moment when the infamous picture was taken. As readers turn the pages, they are given a detour of Lewis’ past 20 years of life through small, brief vignettes depicting times when he had to deal with the absence of his father, living through many dysfunctional households, his battle with drug abuse, as well as his inner struggle with his sexuality.
Lewis opens the book with Kordale and Kaleb’s housewarming party, setting the stage by welcoming readers into the story of his life and immediately beginning with one of his most vulnerable moments: when he was molested by one of his mother’s boyfriends at the time.
As the memoir progresses, Lewis speaks of growing up in a broken home, along with the hardships and consequences of being the product of an absent father and a mother addicted to drugs. Forced to grow up at a young age, Lewis illustrates several instances in which he was exposed to occurrences and people that would help shape the man he is today. All the while, he has to learn to cope with his identity as a gay man while juggling his other burdens.
While ” Picture Perfect?” does answer many questions including the conception of his children, the story behind the picture and ultimately meeting that man he now calls his partner and fiancé, the novella is handicapped, at times, by the dry and monotonous dialogue amongst characters as well as its emotionally detached storytelling at seemingly detrimental parts of the story.
With the memoir being so short, Lewis’s pace and dialogue did not always capture the emotional tolls bearing down upon people like his family and, most importantly, himself. The novella is interconnected by chapters that are dedicated to isolated parts of his life but, by doing this, parts of the novella feel rushed.
Readers must remember that this is Lewis’s story, and those looking for his partner Kaleb’s involvement and background might be a little disappointed, as he is given an introduction but is not at all a vital part to the story. Though the story ends a bit abruptly and is tied up in a beautiful bow and tie, his story shines true in the sense that it is not about the destination, but the journey. Lewis proves that while he may be living what some might call the picture perfect life, it is not something that happened over night.
Lewis’s heart-wrenching memoir is a poignant example of the modern hero’s journey. For the most part, the author’s writing style is very conversational and adds a sense of personality to the pages. The novella is a short read of 160 pages and is easily an effortless and enjoyable read and work out for the eyes.
“Picture Perfect?” may be categorized as LBGT literature, but in reality the novella is really about the search for identity while overcoming hardship and is suitable for anyone who enjoys a juicy story of drama, heartbreak and love.
A good read for an inexpensive price; I recommend this book.

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