From Publishers Weekly
After growing up poor in Chicago, Fountain found himself, at 22, a college dropout, married with three children and living on welfare. He is now a college graduate and a national correspondent for the New York Times. This is Fountain's story of life in the ghetto, his eventual escape from poverty and the discovery of an ardent faith that has fueled him through his most troubling times. Yet it's the tales of his large extended family that are the most touching, as well as the resilience and pride shown by his mother, about whom Fountain writes with tenderness and the clarity of hindsight: "I once heard it said that life is what happens when you make other plans. Life happened to Mama: marriage, motherhood, and divorce, all within the span of a few years." Less compelling are the passages that deal with Fountain's growing faith. As a child, he attended church, a raucous place where he enjoyed the loud sounds and colorful behavior, yet as an adult, the draw became deeper, yet also more banal. Fountain shows readers the effects of his faith, but other than a few scenes detailing his growing belief, this aspect of the book is murky and ill-defined. However, the book's opening pages, detailing his scrappy childhood, more than make up for this fault. The memoir succeeds when it becomes the story of most people's lives: trying to fit in, reconciling family life with personal life, understanding what it feels like to leave home and what it also feels like to return after a number of years.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.
Fountain, a national correspondent for the New York Times
, explores and exposes his rough upbringing on the west side of Chicago. His southern forebears had come to Chicago expecting to find a promised land but had found a hopeless trap instead, in a neighborhood overrun with drugs and crime. Despite a mother who struggled with obstacles but had unlimited faith in her son's potential, and a grandmother who was a prayer warrior providing faith where his was lacking, Fountain succumbed early to the destructive lures of urban life. He became a father at 17 and a college dropout at 19. But his family's religious roots and his grandparent's church provided a foundation for his eventual turnaround. In this powerful and inspiring memoir, Fountain evokes the gritty urban existence that destroys so many black youth and the abiding faith that helped him change his own life. Fountain brings journalistic insight into the problems of urban ghettos and searing personal experience to this unabashed look at how faith can provide the strength and determination to overcome obstacles. Vernon FordCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved