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What Else But Home: Seven Boys and an American Journey Between the Projects and the Penthouse Hardcover – July 28, 2009

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Editorial Reviews


Ron Suskind, Pulitzer-Prize winning journalist and author of A Hope in the Unseen
“Many people talk about what they can do to reach across divides, to create a better world. The Rosens didn't just talk -- they plunged, headlong, into an extraordinary adventure of shared purpose and unflinching commitment. Michael Rosen takes readers on a death-defying journey -- gritty, surprising, funny and fiercely honest. What was defied? The death of hope. What we're now graced with? An inspring book about what one family can accomplish.”

Diane McWhorter, Pulitzer Prizewinning author of Carry Me Home
“For Michael Rosen to have lived this story would've been sufficient. For him to be able to write about it with such beauty and grit, such delicacy and bluntness, seems like a gift of destiny. What Else But Home renders our country's defining forces of race and class--and immigration--down to the society's molecular unit, the family, and shows us what we have become and might become, in all our heroic messiness. This is a valentine to America's diversity--and indeed to every enterprise of courage, chaos and love that results in magic.”

Jewish Week
“Affecting…Rosen writes with deep honesty and humility, and an attunement to language. His story is about generosity and love, stretching boundaries, going beyond what’s comfortable, and about trying to make change possible.”

About the Author

Michael Rosen, a community organizer, is the author of Turning Words, Spinning Worlds. He is a former real estate developer and investor, former CEO of a Wall Street firm, former CEO of a publicly traded company destroyed in the events of September 11, 2001, and a former assistant professor at New York University. He lives in New York, and with his wife, Leslie Gruss, helps raise “the Rosen family extended.”

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 384 pages
  • Publisher: PublicAffairs; First Edition edition (July 28, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1586485628
  • ISBN-13: 978-1586485627
  • Product Dimensions: 9.3 x 6.4 x 1.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,473,682 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Terrific book, terrific story.
P. Anderson
To have lived the story would be extraordinary, to write about it with grace, nuance and moments of the sublime is a gift to America¹s best promise.
Davon Russell
Yes, the book is long, as some have complained.
Geneva M. Swing

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
What Else But Home: An Inspiring, Disturbing Book that Pulls The Covers Off Race and Class Barriers in Gentrifying New York

What Else But Home: Seven Boys and an American Journey From the Projects to the Penthouse by Michael Rosen, is a tough minded, unsparingly honest, brilliantly written book about one family's efforts to bridge race and class barriers that have grown to unprecedented proportions in Michael Bloomberg's New York, especially in gentrifying neighborhoods like the Lower East Side. The story line is deceptively simple. The author and his wife, wealthy professionals living in a penthouse apartment overlooking Tompkins Square Park, decide to take in, and informally adopt five black and latino boys, all of whom live in neighborhood housing projects, who their son Ripton meets in pick up baseball games in the Park. Given the results, that all five boys end up staying of jail , getting GED's and high school diplomas, and attending college or community college, you might think this is a feel good story. But what the Rosens, their two children ( both adopted) and the five boys have to do to get there is so painful, so difficult, and so beyond the range of what most people would be willing to do that it makes the barriers they crossed seem almost unbridgeable. Although the challenge this family took on inspired love and trust and generosity, it also produced levels of conflict and misunderstanding that almost broke every person who participated.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By H. W. Haller on July 18, 2009
Format: Hardcover
I've read about the author, Michael Rosen, and his family a while ago in NY Times -- an article about a white couple with two sons took in five Black, Latino boys (the bigger boys) from nearby projects to their penthouse. It could be one of those ordinary philanthropic stories of what a rich man has done with his money. But this one, told by author himself, is different. If you expect a story of Daddy Long-legs or Cinderella you will be disappointed.

First of all, Rosen is not a saint -- he gets angry, makes mistakes, struggles, and gets emotional.But he cares deeply about the bigger boys, who are on the verge of falling into the vicious cycle of poverty, apathy, violence and crime. Some are abused, some are fatherless, some are heavily-impoverished and their emotional traumas are significant. Although their lives are described matter-of-factly in this book, they feel so raw that hurt.
Rosen and his wife try to get the bigger boys through school system to college, which makes all the difference in young men's lives, and of course it is not the easiest task. They yell, argue, nag, curse a lot at each other along the way (vividly written with lots of ghetto words). This book is really gripping, partly because of its brilliant conversational form, but mainly because the characters are living "now" -- since the first time Rosen's own son brought his "friends" from neighbourhood park, nothing is planned, nothing is taken for granted, nothing is predictable -- they struggle together, get over obstacles one by one toward an unlikely goal (colleges) which readers hope to see at the end of this book.

As a single parent of a young boy, I've read many parenting books seeking an answer to my all-time question: "How can I be a good parent?".
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Susan & David Schwartz on July 15, 2009
Format: Hardcover
This family memoir traces the challenges and joys experienced when a white prosperous New York City family with two young adopted sons of their own find themselves parenting a group of five disadvantaged black and Hispanic kids who befriend their seven-year old son during a summer game of sandlot baseball in Tompkins Square Park in 1998. What starts as a casual relationship -- the kids come over to the apartment after the game for snacks and Nintendo -- turns gradually into a full-blown parental relationship. Michael Rosen, the father, explores the challenges of relating and caring for boys from the most disadvantaged backgrounds -- kids whose own fathers have left (or in one case, was murdered), mothers who are chronically unemployed, brothers who run drug rings in their projects. The five disadvantaged kids eventually integrate -- with fits and starts -- into the Rosen family. Michael and his wife Leslie Gruss make sure that their wards get through high school, and into college -- though the process is anything but straightforward. And the nuclear family changes as well -- the decision to help raise these kids influences the relationship between Michael and Leslie, and between them and their adopted children.

Rosen is an enchanting writer, with a keen eye, ferocious honesty, and a wonderfully idiosyncratic style. In the process, he forces the reader to think deeply about family, parenting, class divisions, and the commitment required to achieve results in the face of extraordinary obstacles. A fine memoir, one with something for everyone who has ever been a parent, or for that matter a child.
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