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True Vine: A Young Black Man's Journey of Faith, Hope, and Clarity Hardcover – June 3, 2003


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 352 pages
  • Publisher: PublicAffairs; 1st edition (June 3, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1586480847
  • ISBN-13: 978-1586480844
  • Product Dimensions: 9.6 x 6.5 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,479,137 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

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.

From Booklist

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 Ford
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

More About the Author

JOHN W. FOUNTAIN is an award-winning journalist, professor and author of the memoir, True Vine: A Young Black Man's Journey of Faith Hope and Clarity (Public Affairs, 2003). He has been a national correspondent for the New York Times. He was previously a staff writer at the Washington Post and the Chicago Tribune. He holds bachelor's and master's degrees from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and was a Michigan Journalism Fellow at the University of Michigan. He is a professor of journalism at Roosevelt University in Chicago and a weekly columnist for the Chicago Sun-Times.

Fountain grew up on some of the meanest streets in Chicago, where drugs, crime, decay, and broken homes consigned so many black children to a life of despair and self-destruction. A father at seventeen, a college dropout at nineteen, a welfare case soon after, Fountain was on the verge of giving up all hope. One thing saved him--his faith, his own true vine.

True Vine is his remarkable story--of his childhood in a neighborhood heading south; of his strong-willed grandparents, who founded a church (called True Vine) that sought to bring the word of God to their neighbors; of his mother, herself a teenage parent, whose truncated dreams help nurture bigger dreams in him; of his friends and cousins, whose youthful exuberance was extinguished by the burdens they faced; and of his religious awakening that gave him the determination to rebuild his life.

Dear Dad captures a compelling story--of Fountain's journey and his reflections on fatherlessness as well as his own insights as a father today. But as an anthology, Dear Dad also provides a wider look at the impact of fatherlessness, and fatherhood, through the tales of fifteen other writers. Collectively, theirs is a story of paternal loss, and love; the story of men who sought to be good fathers and to nurture big dreams in their children, but also the story of men who by their absence, abuse, or neglect might have all but extinguished their children's dreams, were it not for mothers, male mentors, the spirit of community, and hope. Dear Dad is a story of remarkable human spirit; of forgiveness, fortitude, faith, and fatherhood.

For more information, visit www.wspbooks.com or www.johnwfountain.com

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By "noeljerke" on July 5, 2003
Format: Hardcover
This book provides a vivid acount of the difficulties of a black inter-city kid trying to make it in a world that as a youth he little understands. I am very thankful that John shared his story and his open faith with the rest of the world. ... This has been a blessing. Thank you!
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Vella C. Draughon on February 20, 2004
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I found myself unable to put this book down even for sleep. It's one of those books you read from cover to cover, then promptly begin to put together the names of friends and family who simply MUST read this book.
I was deeply touched by his unwavering faith and integrity as he wrote about his life in the Chicago ghetto--up through poverty, his setbacks in life, and again recouping to claim a better life for himself and his family. I was most impressed by his early and continued determination to lead an exemplary male life, not wavering in his responsibilities to provide security and leadership no matter the adversity. His strong message of faith is a personal one, clearly and directly told. It is a touching, sincere, very warm book and so worth your time and money. You'll love it, I'm sure of it.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Terri Ballard on February 2, 2004
Format: Hardcover
I was feeling pretty down when I picked up True Vine, I knew that I needed to know that I wasn't alone in what life was throwing at me at the time, I had no idea that this book would Re-new my Faith, and give me the Courage to keep going on. My sad, went to glad, my downs went to ups, my bad, went to good, and My Spirit Soared!!!!!!!God put John W. Fountain on this earth to give us our Faith Back, and to know that through God, all things are Possible, God Bless and Keep John, can't wait for book number two........
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Ismail Turay Jr. on November 4, 2003
Format: Hardcover
John Fountain has created a masterpiece. I was hooked midway through the first chapter. The book is filled with humor and sorrow and great life lessons. Fountain proved that no matter how dire our situation, we can overcome it with hard work, determination and faith. Every young male, regardless of race, should read True Vine.
Aspiring writers will also pick up a few tips from the book. It's rich with wonderful descriptions and color that brings the stories alive.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful By tom williams on April 13, 2004
Format: Hardcover
With True Vine, John W. Fountain has created an inspirational beacon. Not only has he trail blazed a path for all of the inner-city youth struggling in the jungle of poverty, he has written a travelogue of hope for all the souls who may have lost sight of their dreams.
This is one of the best books I have read, and will most likely be among my top 10 for the year. I wrote something down from this book that I know I will take away with me and remember for a long time: "You can't stop dreaming or you start to die."
When I first picked up this book, I was worried it would be a non-stop preach-fest; it turned out to be an inspiring tale of despair, hope, and faith.
Even though I grew up in a ranch house on a cul-de-sac in a well-to-do white Chicago suburb with grassy lawns and two-car garages, this book made me feel like I grew up in the poverty stricken neighborhoods of the west side of Chicago. It made me feel like a part of John W. Fountain's circle of friends and family.
This is the kind of book that comes along only once in a while. True Vine is a true treasure.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful By A. Dutton on January 7, 2004
Format: Hardcover
John Fountain's story doesn't end the way one might expect - it didn't begin the way I might expect after reading his credentials. This touching and real story of a young black man struggling to rise above the circumstances into which he was born proves that the choice exists for each human to make changes (large and small) to create the life they want. The same challenges and frustrations (death of dreams, loss of hope and life choices) apply to people in all areas of our country and Mr. Fountain's story is a wake-up call to each of us to see the story behind the stereotype and to encourage the pursuit and cultivation of dreams for all Americans.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on September 12, 2003
Format: Hardcover
John Fountain's True Vine answers the question of what happens to those teenagers who became statistics and get caught up in the streets, or as in Fountain's case, teen pregnancy. Fountain is a testatment of the inner strength we all possess to take stock and reinvent ourselves to better ourselves. True Vine is this century's new version of what it is to be an all-American teen. With all the choices and pressures young people face today, so much is at stake when we don't make the right choices. Fountain shows how a strong foundation, spirituality, the ability to admit one's flaws and innate common sense can put the American Dream within the grasp of anyone who has the passion and discipline to reach for it. Being American is about evolving into the best you can be. We all can hope to experience the growth and knowledge Fountain has.
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