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"A Totally Alien Life-Form": Teenagers Hardcover – September, 1996


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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

This set of high-energy, intimate interviews with 47 teenagers from around the nation, who differ widely in social, economic and racial backgrounds, explodes the media-sustained image of a complacent "Generation X." Lewis, author of a previous oral history, Hospital, wins her subjects' confidence, drawing them out on much more than sex, drugs and personal relationships, as they unguardedly discuss politics, religion and their anxieties, hopes for a meaningful future and concern for the planet's survival. Many of these teens are traumatized by their parents' divorces; one copes with a manic-depressive, schizophrenic mother, another with the loss of her father to cancer, yet all display resilience and an intelligent questioning of the adult world. Joe Zefran, 18, who tried to run for alderman in Chicago but couldn't get on the ballot, comments: "I like Clinton idealistically but he can't do what he wants to do?he has to compromise too much.... I'd like us to be like England. There's not a single reason that people should have guns." Rebekah Evenson of Manhattan says, "Somehow the conservative element in the Republican Party, and in the Democratic Party, have been able to convince poor, working-class Americans that it's in their best interest to subsidize this top 1 percent [of the wealthiest households] and to help them keep getting richer." A riveting slice-of-life generational portrait. $35,000 ad/promo.-- and to help them keep getting richer." A riveting slice-of-life generational portrait. $35,000 ad/promo.
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

Reading transcripts of teenagers telling their own stories is fascinating. These young men and women are insightful, vulnerable, hopeful, intelligent, caring, frightened, and responsible, as well as brave, irresponsible, swaggering, certain, and uncertain. Lewis, clearly a practiced and exceptional interviewer who has other oral histories to her credit (Hospitals, LJ 11/15/94), nevertheless fails to provide analysis. After a brief introduction, the book is simply a collection of narratives gathered into chapters with intriguing names ("Faith," "Secrets," "Brotherly Love") but no explanation tying the stories together. It will be a disappointment to anyone looking for the depth of Mary Pipher's Reviving Ophelia (LJ 5/15/96). Still, this work may be the best book available containing the perspectives of male and female teenagers, so it is recommended with reservations.?Constance Rinaldo, Dartmouth Coll. Biomedical Libs., Hanover, N.H.
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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