Tyler Perry * Spiegel & Grau * November 14, 2017 * 224 Pages
I’ve always been a little obsessed with Tyler Perry. I’ve never seen his plays (which is how he got his start), but I love his movies. They can get cheesy at times, sure, but Perry has a knack for telling a relatable, funny, and insightful story. He’s entertaining (and Oprah seems to love him 🙃), so I’ve always been interested to know more about his story.
Higher Is Waiting is mostly a memoir, but also somewhat of a Bible study-type devotional. The book is divided into a bunch of little chapters where Perry offers up an anecdote from his life, then shares the lesson he learned, a related Bible verse to study, and asks a few reflection questions.
In my opinion, about a third of the book is throwaway. Perry’s stories aren’t always that interesting, and some of the insights aren’t all that, well, insightful. I spent a lot of time in church growing up, and many of Perry’s lessons were already very familiar to me. I’m guessing other readers will feel the same way.
Where this book excels, though, is in the stories about Perry’s own childhood. I never knew he grew up poor or that his father was an abusive alcoholic. I didn’t realize Perry was so close to his mother and that, even as a child, he felt wholly responsible for protecting her.
It’s clear that Perry’s experience of growing up in an abusive home helped him (and, let’s face it, probably forced him…) to be a sharp and discerning observer of people. The guy is perceptive, and he has an impressive ability to see what motivates the people he interacts with. Yet despite his experiences early on in life and despite having that natural ability to “sniff out” danger or ill intention, Perry has managed to develop an accepting and loving graciousness toward people, even toward those who have wronged him. I can’t help but respect that.
I admire Perry for how far he’s come in life, for his perseverance and hard work. And I appreciate how honest he is in this book. I still think certain chapters could have been stronger (or even eliminated altogether), but I so enjoyed learning about Perry’s childhood and hearing his thoughts on people, family, relationships, work, and life.