As seen on Humans of New York, Jonathan Conyers introduces us to the teachers, his debate coach, a homeless man, and a boy named Diego who changed his life. Booklist calls it “a moving story about finding your supporters and building your future.”
Everybody was rooting for Jonathan Conyers after seeing his profile on Humans of New York went viral and sparked millions in donations to the Brooklyn Debate League. The kid who went from struggling to read to being a breakout star on his high school debate team, thanks to a life-changing friendship with his transgender debate coach, captured the heart of America. Jonathan’s story highlights the important role teachers play in opening up worlds of opportunity for the most vulnerable students.
In I Wasn’t Supposed to Be Here, Jonathan shares the full story of his incredible journey escaping the precarious circumstances he was born into, and the teachers, mentors, and guides who helped him along the way.
Born into a family crippled by addiction and homelessness, Jonathan “failed” kindergarten and was told he would never succeed academically. But instead, Jonathan found ways to defy the limited expectations placed upon him by building a village to save his own life, and realize his dream to get into medical school.
Throughout this heartwarming memoir, we meet the unique and diverse cast of characters who made up Jonathan’s village and helped him change the trajectory of his life.
About the Author
Jonathan Conyers is the cofounder of the Brooklyn Debate League, a nonprofit whose mission is to bring speech and debate to at-risk communities. He has been featured in the New York Times, Washington Post, The Kelly Clarkson Show, and more. A graduate of Stony Brook University, he is the founder of Conyers Media and the host of The Professional Winner Podcast. In addition, he is a respiratory therapist at NYU Langone Medical Center, specializing in neonates and pediatrics. He lives in New York City with his wife and three young children.
“Conyers can't help but inspire and uplift.”—Good Morning America
“A moving story about finding your supporters and building your future.” —Booklist
“A heartfelt memoir about overcoming long odds to rise from poverty, dysfunction, and the tyranny of low expectations. Inspirational but never sentimental, with many lessons on “adding value to the world.”—Kirkus
“You’ll see the grace inside this story, so much grace that it almost makes you weep. Starting before he was born, Conyers writes, it seemed as though the universe was conspiring against him: he was almost aborted, he was sometimes hungry, and sometimes homeless. His education was often in question, as was his life, but there’s no real complaining in the telling of any of this. Readers just get the facts, in a voice that uplifts as it conveys awe at the presence of angels in a ‘village.’”—Bookworm Sez
"Jonathan's story is a shining example of true, honest resilience: not borne just of his grit, but of luck and community. His battle against racism and poverty is courageous and inspiring. An engrossing read."—Stephanie Foo, author of What My Bones Know
“I Wasn't Supposed to Be Here left me floored—I will be forever transformed, and I highly recommend that you not only read this book, but use it as a tool to strive for more.”——D Watkins, New York Times bestselling author of The Beastside and Black Boy Smile
“His mere living is an act of rebellion, Conyers invites us into a life hard-lived in a family and world that sought to extinguish his light. With compassion and frustration alike, Conyers navigates New York City, Virginia, and the systems meant to help—but utterly fail—families like his. Most precious is the vulnerability shown by his admitted imperfection, allowing us to cheer even in those moments for his success. Conyers builds his own ‘village’ of helpers because his light cannot be extinguished.” —David Ambroz, author of A Place Called Home
“Jonathan Conyers is an inspiration. There are very few people as committed or determined to giving back to their community, and his energy and dedication to his village are admirable. I Wasn't Supposed to Be Here is a brave, honest, and powerful telling of his story. It's a roadmap for overcoming adversity and giving back.”—Brandon Stanton, author of Tanqueray and Humans of New York