Book Reviews

Cuz by Danielle Allen

Cuz by Danielle Allen

Danielle Allen seeks to find out what caused the death of her cousin Michael Allen. Michael grew up in a single parent home with his sister and mother. While growing up he spent time with Danielle and her family when his family was unstable.

Danielle and Michael’s friendship bond grew over the years while living with Danielle’s family. At the age of thirteen, Michael gets involved in an attempted carjacking incident ad he is incarcerated for eleven years.

Throughout his prison years, Danielle and Michael maintain a strong friendship bond. When he is finally released, she spends time trying to help him get a fresh start. This is a memoir about Michael, his family and his tragic end.


It was an emotional read. The author describes her close relationship with her late cousin. Michael grew up with his mother and sister. His mother struggled to raise him. His moving back and forth between his home and his cousin’s home caused instability. Could this have been the cause of his going the way ward way and getting into crime?

Was he part of a gang? What influenced his decision to get into crime? Through the author, one gets the scholarly aspect of the American prison system. This part of the book to me did not add much to the story. I, however, guessed it helped the author make readers understand what happened to her cousin while in prison.

While in prison Michael used to write long letters of his experience to his cousin Danielle. I get the sense that the Danielle did not really know her cousin well. He would change his personality according to the kind of relationship that he had with each of his family and friends.  I empathized with Michael in his quest to find love and live love while in prison. His relationship had a tragic end. He was convicted too early for him to experience the cycle of life.

From the book, we see the prison system experience from the point of views of Allen and from a visitor’s experience through Danielle. Would have loved to get the authorities perspective, however, this is memoir giving it the short coming of having a memoir.


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