Featured April, 2016 - Oregon Jewish Life Magazine:
Big Brother Writes "Manual" for Growing Up
"This is a raw, honest, and inspirational memoir. . . a story that is powerful and heartfelt, and certain to appeal to a wide variety of audiences." - Clarion Reviews
A 40-something Oregon man writes about his yearslong experience with the Big Brothers Big Sisters program in this debut.
Douglas was living on a houseboat in a fairly posh part of metropolitan Portland in 2005 when he decided that he wanted to make a difference by helping at-risk youth. He’d seen a booth for the Big Brothers Big Sisters program at the Portland Pride Festival, was intrigued, and signed up. He was matched with Rico, a 12-year-old whose mother was an immigrant from Guatemala. At the time, the quiet, reserved Rico was living in foster care and had no objection to the match. Thus began the six-year-long story of their relationship, with early Frisbee games and movies evolving into Douglas playing a much greater role in Rico’s life, including attempting to steer him clear of gangs and drugs and to ensure that he graduated from high school. Although a Big Brother’s role is mainly to listen and be a friend, Douglas’ micromanaging approach was sometimes baffling to Rico, the author writes, as were his emotional demands.
Douglas intersperses flashbacks to the 1970s throughout the Big Brother narrative and relates chilling tales of growing up gay in a strict, religious home. He also relates the story of Russell, his childhood friend and de facto bodyguard in school—a heroic figure who unfortunately descended into a life of crime. Douglas’ book does a beautiful job of connecting the past to the present, particularly in the sections that depict his blossoming relationship with his parents as they aged.
His memories of being a gay teenager in the ’70s are also full of engaging personalities, sometimes monstrous and sometimes beautiful, which make the story hard to walk away from. As Rico grew up and Douglas’ involvement increased, the author broke a few Big Brother rules, particularly when he helped Rico out financially.
Even so, Douglas’ compelling story moves toward a conclusion that’s a genuine testament to his tireless dedication to his Little Brother.
A moving memoir about struggling to form personal relationships in turbulent environments.
Pub Date: Jan 1, 2016
Page count: 286pp
Publisher: Newsworthy Books
Program: Kirkus Indie
Review Posted Online: Jan. 12th, 2016
About the Author
Aaron Kirk Douglas is a life-long creative, a passionate philanthropist, and award-winning mentor with over a decade’s experience in mentoring at-risk youth. A journalism graduate of the University of Oregon and former marketing director at some of the largest and most prominent law and commercial real estate firms in the Pacific Northwest, Douglas is also an award-winning documentary filmmaker, whose film Monster Camp was lauded by Variety.
Expertise & Awards
- Board member, and 10-year volunteer with Big Brothers/Big Sisters Columbia Northwest (Portland, OR)
- Top three finalist, national mentoring recognition from The National Mentoring Partnership (2015)
- Recipient of one of Oregon's highest individual honors for outstanding personal achievement in volunteerism in support of low-income children and families. (2011)
- Nominee, National Big Brother of The Year (2010)
Growing Up Twice: Shaping a Future By Reliving My Past
Publisher: Newsworthy Books, USA
Print: Kindle: Publ. Date: 01/01/2016
Media kit: Sources
ISBN 978-09970501-0-3, $14.95, 238 pages, 5.25" x 8" paperback
ISBN 978-0-9970501-8-9 $3.49E-Book
RELEASE DATE: January 1, 2016
KATU – AM Northwest (2/14/11)
Interview for documentary https://youtu.be/Jbn_QJFTASc?t=1m37s
(The above video interviews feature Douglas’ Little Brother’s real name, which has been changed to “Rico” in the book, at his request.)