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Teenage Wasteland: Suburbia's Dead End Kids Paperback – April 28, 1998

ISBN-13: 978-0226278728 ISBN-10: 0226278727 Edition: 1st

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 282 pages
  • Publisher: University of Chicago Press; 1 edition (April 28, 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0226278727
  • ISBN-13: 978-0226278728
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.6 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 2.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (21 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #848,721 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

The author, a freelance journalist working on a story about four teenagers in northern New Jersey who, in 1987, killed themselves in a suicide pact, gained entry into the world of the so-called "burnouts" of Bergenfield. Gaines, a former social worker and a devotee of rock music, began hanging out with local kids whose lives were much like those of the teenage suicides. Her reflections on the primacy of death in the culture of these nomads in a middle-class society are expressed in an earthy, colloquial style that marks the author's empathy with alienated youth. This is a hard-hitting, disturbing report urging adults to "renew our social contract with young people."
Copyright 1991 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Review

"Teenage Wasteland has become...a cult classic...the kind people refer to in hushed, reverent tones." -- Newsday, May 20, 2001

"The best of these [ethnographic] studies...for example... *Tally's Corner* and more recently, *Teenage Wasteland*...are regarded classics in socology." -- Pacific Sociologist, 1998

Customer Reviews

2.5 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

24 of 30 people found the following review helpful By Matthew T. Hickey on November 15, 2005
Format: Paperback
I recently reread this book and was pleased, yet unsurprised to, see how well it's held up. The books easily stands on it's own merits, however I have been compelled to write a review after reading some of the bilge that others have written. Mostly along the lines of "I knew these kids or I'm from Jersey and she shouldn't have written that book", and other unintelligent nonsense and blindfolded provincial tripe. Comparing Dr. Gaines to the Taliban is about as clever as someone comparing homosexuals with the devil. If someone is that stupid as to make that comparison, they're in over their empty head just reading the word sociology, much less a book on the subject.

I read this book not long after it's release. I considered myself a graduate of a similar 'teenage wasteland' on long island, and approached the subject matter with the critical eye of someone with years of experience of suburban malaise, suicidal cohorts and punk and metal soundtracks. After completing the book I was genuinely moved not only by her obvious empathetic treatment of the subject matter, but for her logical conclusions pertaining the conditions that made the events in the book not only understandable, but also unavoidable. She never judged the subjects of the book, and thus gained their confidence. Her personal connection to the events she was writing allowed her a keen insight into the situation she describes without sacrificing clinical, reasoned objectivity.

Not long after reading this book for the first time, I wrote to the author, thanking her for her efforts regarding a subject that I knew well. Instead of receiving a corporate form letter reply or a brush off, I received a personal response from the author and an invitation to discuss the book in person.
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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on April 21, 2002
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I read this book for a class I was taking and I didn't expect much from it. But I was wrong. This is a very good book and the information is both surprising and relevant. I probably would not have read this book except for my class and I would have missed out on a lot.
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17 of 24 people found the following review helpful By "thesweep" on October 1, 2000
Format: Paperback
As a baby-bust kid raised in Bergenfield, I found Ms. Gaines conclusions pretty much on the mark. However, her constant references to herself were not relevent to the topic. Growing up in the sixties in Long Island and having beach parties was nowhere near growing up in Bergenfield in the eighties even if you knew the names of heavy metal bands. Several points she failed to make well were: Reagan's trickle-down economics and not raising the minimum wage failed us completely. (I am still paying off college loans from 1988.) Also, she completely missed the connection that my generation's parents were fifties kids who idealized Ronald Reagan, bought the whole Father Knows Best thing and still truly believed in Camelot and the American Dream. How could we but disappoint? Many of our parents had cars when they were teens, got good jobs without college degrees, got married and had kids, and also bought a house all before they were 25. Hippies frightened the bejeesus out of them. And, they were in no mood to believe that hope was dead for those of stuck at $3.35 an hour. Ms. Gaines religifying music was a little much as well. Being a musician, I know that kids as well as adults need to have a good time, blow off steam, to escape. The energy of rock, heavy metal, thrash, etc. appeals to them often on a visceral, not always intellectual level. Kids out there often enjoy music when they don't even have clue what the lyrics are. Also, her slang to sound cool was a little much. On the topic of the kids feeling worthless, she was dead on. There was another name they were given, not even mentioned in the book which breaks my heart when I think of it. Dregs.
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9 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Sarah Korhonen on February 1, 2000
Format: Paperback
While to a seasoned scholar in the discipline of the sociology of youth this book may seem "simplistic," it drew me into the discipline. Not only did Donna Gaines become part of the suburban kids world, but she gave them a voice...The most fascinating aspect I found was the symoblism of rebellion and the profound meaning it carries. For this alone, this book is valuable.
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6 of 10 people found the following review helpful By jon roppolo on June 13, 2001
Format: Paperback
Ms Gaines has characterized the culture of the generation that was supposed to inherit the American dream. The explosion of suburbia over the past 50 years has produced a generation struggling with the norms of it's own culture.
Ms. Gaines' "undercover" work in producing this book is superb. She socialized with a group of teenagers to learn about the culture that seems so odd to outsiders, and seems so destructive. She however does not have a "cold, scientific" style -- rather she becomes part of the group honestly. She does not pretend to be one of them. She treats the subject with respect, love, and an open mind.
The result is truly a rich picture of a culture most people never see or frequently don't understand.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Stacey M. Asby on February 27, 2014
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I am still working on this book, not be/c it is tough to get "into" but it is tough to read the text for me. The font is unusually small and fine which doesn't work well for me be advised if you need clear font to read well.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Juan G. Quiroga on February 14, 2014
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
i love it and i hope to buy once again from this seller keep the good work and you will get more good report
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More About the Author

Donna Gaines has written for Rolling Stone, MS, the Village Voice, Spin, Newsday and Salon. Her work has been published in fanzines, trade and scholarly collections, journals and textbooks. A sociologist, journalist and New York State Licensed Master Social Worker, Dr. Gaines taught sociology at Barnard College of Columbia University and the Graduate Faculty of New School University. She also works as an Usui Reiki Master Healer/Teacher with a special interest in recovery.

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Teenage Wasteland: Suburbia's Dead End Kids
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