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United States of Grace: A Memoir of Homelessness, Addiction, Incarceration, and Hope

United States of Grace: A Memoir of Homelessness, Addiction, Incarceration, and Hope

In 1991, when he was 13 years old, Lenny Duncan stepped out of his house in West Philadelphia, walked to the Greyhound station, and bought a ticket--the start of his great American adventure.

Today Duncan, who inspired and challenged audiences with his breakout first book, Dear Church, brings us a deeply personal story about growing up Black and queer in the U.S. In his characteristically powerful voice he recounts hitchhiking across the country, spending time in solitary confinement, battling for sobriety, and discovering a deep faith, examining pressing issues like poverty, mass incarceration, white supremacy, and LGBTQ inclusion through an intimate portrayal of his life's struggles and joys. United States of Grace is a love story about America, revealing the joy and resilience of those places in this country many call "the margins" but that Lenny Duncan has called home. This book makes the bold claim that God is present with us in the most difficult of circumstances, bringing life out of death.

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Available May 18, 2021

  • Publisher Broadleaf Books
  • Format Hardcover
  • ISBN 9781506464060
  • eBook ISBN 9781506464077
  • Age/Grade Range Adult
  • Dimensions 5.75 x 8.75
  • Pages 170
  • Publication Date May 18, 2021


United States of Grace traces a remarkable and completely relatable life. From the throes of addiction to the joy of a Grateful Dead show, in this honest, unflinching look at his own life Lenny Duncan tells his personal story of love, triumph, failure, and pain while ultimately leaving the reader with an immense sense of hope. As Lenny works his way along his own path to wholeness, we find our way to hope for ourselves on our most difficult days.

Leslie Mac, Community Organizer & Digital Strategist

Lenny Duncan weaves together history and memoir in a book rooted in journeys across the beautiful and bruising landscape of the United States, where the pointed stare of a Black mama at the Greyhound station and a voice whispering sobriety at a Grateful Dead show become ciphers of ordinary grace. In this astounding book that is both fierce and generous, jagged and hopeful, Duncan makes space for the thorny topography of addiction, freedom, sexuality, despair, and race, refusing to flatten the path for our comfort. Instead, he invites us to walk with him, to see what he sees, to inhabit the adventure and heartbreak of a Black life in a country built for Blackdestruction. A book written with tenderness and joy, United States of Grace points us toward prophetic signposts of what is possible for America, if we have the courage to imagine it together.

Melissa Florer-Bixler, author of Fire by Night

"Lenny Duncan's tale of escape from the miserable lot that life dealt him is reminiscent of Claude Brown's Manchild in the Promised Land--powerful and beautifully told--but with a twist: Duncan's triumph comes through an encounter with redemption. I can hardly imagine a more profound story of salvation. You will be inspired by Duncan's strength but also jolted by his anger that the odds are so heavily stacked against all who are trapped by oppression and injustice. This is the work of a truly gifted writer."

Tom Gjelten, Religion Correspondent, NPR News