Butterflies Hitting Home Runs

A few weeks ago through a chance post from one of my Instagram followers named @bich_go_fleet, a freshly published new author by the name of Andre L. Simmons grabbed my attention with his debut book Butterflies Hitting Home Runs. The exceptionally, creative title alone intrigued me enough to do further research on the book, which lead me to where the book was exclusively sold at that point in time. After reading a snippet of the preview, my interest in the book (and Simmons) grew exponentially. I purchased the book the first chance I got and lucked up receiving it during this past July 4th weekend, where I planned to celebrate my own personal independence of coming out the closet back on February 15, 2014.

Basically, I could not put the damn book down.

Reading Butterflies Hitting Home Runs only enhanced my reflective mind state during that weekend, serving as a jagged mirror to my own issues of growing up as a closeted gay black male. I say “jagged,” because unlike Simmons, I never married, had two beautiful children, or experienced what it was like not having my father in my life. However, not only were our experiences in dealing with the “dark secret” we hid within ourselves similar, we also shared the same sound revelations and affirmations after breaking free from the bleak, soul crushing prison we created in our minds as well. It was this sort of “kinship” that elevated Butterflies to another level for me, becoming one of the best, if not the best, autobiographies I’ve read in a while.

Making such a bold claim might cause the eye of even the most casual reader to go into “The Fuck?!” mode, but one of the key factors which makes Butterflies Hitting Home Runs a stand out for me is Simmons’s ability to connect with the reader without giving off a “plastic” aura. He doesn’t have a movie career to relaunch, he doesn’t have a TV show to promote, nor does he have a music catalogue dating back to the late 1970s or was a recent headline news cycle mainstay/survivor. Without all the fanfare of most tabloid fodder celebs, Simmons is able relay his story without worrying about upholding an image while the reader digests the information he’s feeding them. This display of ‘accidental’ authenticity is a part of the book’s charm.

The journey of coming out of the closet, as well as coming to terms with your sexuality, is not a simple walk around Disney World on a clear day. Every coming out experience is just as unique and complex as the individual at the center of the storm, and Simmons’s tale is no different. From his early childhood incidents with “team players,” to his adult life as a married man yearning for the sensual touch of male companion, Simmons weaves a bittersweet narrative that discloses his struggle to keep his family together despite knowing deep down inside that he was fighting a losing battle. This particular battle also was killing his true identity, like a mental Vietnam War: unnecessary and unwinnable. As stated above,  Simmons’s quarter-life agony and angst hit very close to home, clawing at my heart like a hungry, feral cat tearing into a field mouse’s fragile frame. Feeling trapped in your 20s can take a serious toll on your psyche, especially when certain expected milestones during that period are nowhere near accomplished on your personal timeframe. Simmons executed these fears, his fears, well enough without venturing into the realm of not knowing when to stop when he’s ahead.

Simmons’s recollection of personal events is lightning sharp, included with concrete dates and times that sometimes left me wondering just what the hell was I doing while Simmons was dealing with his latest life changing episode. In other words, don’t try having a sudden bout of amnesia with him, because he will make you remember not only your role in the incident, but will redirect you back to the “You Tried It!” area known as, “Your place.”

With all that said, I do have to touch on the grammatical errors that will surely send the most strict of Grammar Nazis into a shock induced coma, because someone out there reading this probably tossed the book aside for this reason and this reason alone. There are some errors. They are there. But it did not deter my experience with the book. I repeat: It DID NOT DETER my experience with this book. Butterflies is one of those reading expeditions where the story itself is all that matters, not how many times a misplaced comma appeared in your eye’s view . The reader must keep in mind that Simmons doesn’t have the backing of a  major publisher like Simon & Schuster or Penguin, who would probably supply him with an editor to help with grammatical mistakes, structuring, and the like. The reader must also refrain from subscribing to the logic that if one doesn’t have sharp grammar skills, then their story is automatically considered null and void. However, if the story doesn’t make sense and is a train wreck to read grammar wise, then that’s another issue altogether.

Butterflies Hitting Home Runs came into my life unexpectedly, yet at a time when I really needed it. Simmons is a talent who is only beginning to scratch the surface of his potential. After exposing himself to the masses, flaws and all, Simmons has stepped out of the gate ready to tackle whatever obstacle that blocks his path like the butterfly he eloquently compares himself to. His journey into manhood was the first leg of a marathon that he’s chosen to embark on. The prologue itself shows just how much this man has to offer and this reader, a proud new fan,  is eagerly awaiting what else he has in store for us in the future.

Butterflies Hitting Home Runs by Andre L. Simmons is available on Amazon (Print and E-book), Barnes & Noble (Print – Online Only), and Books-A-Million (Print – Online Only). Check out his YouTube page: