Reading Lori L. Tharps’ Kinky Gazpacho was like reading a letter from a friend. I have heard the best advice for writers is to “write what you know”. This was advice that Tharps took to heart. There are many elements from Tharps’ life that show up in her novel, Substitute Me. Reading her memoir helped me to understand her novel better and how it could have been shaped in her mind. After reading I got the sense that race can mean everything and nothing to our sense of identity. Tharps’ memoir reads like a novel so it kept me from beginning to end. Lately, I’ve been interested in reading memoirs and coming of age tales, I think because my daughter has just entered “teendom.” I have been thinking about her growing mind and personality. This memoir swept me up in the excitement of visiting a new country, falling in love, and growing up. The last part about the hidden legacy of slavery in Spain was fascinating.