FAIRFIELD — Youth advocate and Daily Republic columnist Deon Price described his first book, “Raised in Hell,” as a “nonfiction family dramedy.”
At his upcoming book signing at Dimitri’s Lounge in Suisun City, readers can obtain a copy of his book and experience how Price overcame intense drama in his formative years though the healing art of comedy.
Price’s book is meant to be part memoir and part motivation, he said. In it he relates stories of his life growing up in Los Angeles during the crack epidemic and the horrors of living with an abusive, alcoholic mother.
“I talk about being in foster care, seeing my sister being bashed in the head by my mother, seeing my mother going through the prison system, seeing my mother in shackles when I was 7 years old, seeing her stab a woman almost to death, and seeing people shot in front of me,” Price said. “You could be shooting a basketball and the next thing you know, someone is shooting at you. There is nothing exaggerated in the book. The hardships we dealt with of living in poverty were extremely difficult.”
The way that Price was able to deal with the numerous life stressors was to find the humor in any situation.
“For example, when we ate we always had Dixie cups and paper plates and plastic forks. My alcoholic mother would always be threatening to kill somebody. Well, you can’t kill anybody with a plastic fork,” Price said.
Price channeled his pain into humor in an obvious way: For four years he was a stand-up comedian and performed in clubs in the Bay Area and locally at Pepperbelly’s. Not only did his experience entertaining help his public speaking, now, as a youth advocate, he also uses humor as a hook to teach life stills to at-risk youth. “Raised in Hell” encapsulates his past experiences and presents alternatives to becoming embittered.
“I originally wrote about my experiences growing up and then planned to do a separate book about working with youth,” Price said. “But one of the publishers and my content editor said, ‘Who cares about your personal years unless you tie it to what you are doing now?’ So I did and I think it is a pretty powerful testimony.”
Price’s philosophy was to not be changed by his hellish environment, but to try to affect positive change in it instead.
“I use the illustration of boiling water. If you put an egg in boiling water, it will crack. If you put a vegetable in boiling water, it will get soft. However, if you put a coffee bean in boiling water it won’t crack or get soft, but it will affect the water. It will change the texture, taste and color,” Price said. “Just like the coffee bean, I try to affect my environment and not let my environment affect me. Not only can you survive a dysfunctional environment, you can excel because of it. It makes you stronger and better able to deal with adversity you will face in the future.”
Reaching people, and in particular young people, has been Price’s personal mission that he fulfills in numerous ways. He has been a youth service worker and also worked for a decade in juvenile probation. His current day job is a youth career transition instructor for the Department of Labor, but he also founded Price Edutainmnent and gives motivational speeches, always tinged with humor.
In his biweekly Daily Republic column “This Generation,” Price addresses issues ranging from how to afford college to peer pressure to the culture of violence that many young people have to endure today. He is hopeful that “Raised in Hell” can be another tool.
In the preface, Price said he distills what the primary motivation was for writing his book: “To inspire and empower readers to overcome family drama and perplexing conditions to improve the quality of their lives.”
Reach Fairfield writer Tony Wade at [email protected].