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There Are No Children Here: The Story of Two Boys Growing Up in The Other America
There Are No Children Here: The Story of Two Boys Growing Up in The Other America
by Alex Kotlowitz
Edition: Paperback
Price: $13.84
682 used & new from $0.01

10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Portrayal Of Inner City Projects, December 24, 2001
"It wasn't just her home that was crumbling; the neighborhood was too. It was all the perfect metaphor, LaJoe thought, for what was happening to her spirit" (p. 241). There Are No Children Here is a story about a family who grows up in a housing project in inner Chicago that battles greed, violence, racism and poverty day by day. This book portrays the struggles and the great efforts that exist, not only in the housing projects in Chicago, but in all of the United States. Neighborhoods crumble and so do so many families. In a society of violence and hate, there is less and less hope that the people living in these communities will achieve a life of success and triumph.

There Are No Children Here was a remarkable and outstanding book that captured the emotions and feelings of children and adults alike who was battling the brutality and hostility of the neighborhood surrounding them. Although, Kotlowitz was able to capture the many moments of despair in this family's life, as they were living in the Henry Horner Home, he was also able to capture the rare but triumphant moments in their lives as well.

Growing up in a community of hatred and poverty, many of the residents in the Henry Horner projects became untrusting and apprehensive of the people around them. "His face masked his troubles. It was a face without affect, without emotion. Sometimes he appeared stoic or unamused. In an adult, the hollowness of his face might have been construed as a look of judgment. But in Lafayette it conveyed weariness. Even in its emptiness, it was an unforgiving face. He was an unforgiving child" (p. 55). Even though Lafayette's age would assert that he was a child, he has seen too much to be considered a child. He has seen too much and due to all that he has seen, he was unforgiving of many others. "It was a period during which Lafayette didn't seem in touch with himself; his anger and sorrow were tangled inside him, his moods shifting wildly" (p. 215). The sorrow and pain that Lafayette has been through is so much more than a large amount of society can grasp. The characters in this book come across many obstacles in their life, yet they all have different ways of dealing with them. "Shutting out the past was perhaps the only way he could go forward or at least manage the present" (p. 209). I believe that society sometimes forgets that these kids who live in these "projects" are still just kids. "There were moments - like the time a fifteen-year old boy who was on trial for mugging people with a fake gun burst into tears in his mother's arms - when Anne was reminded that whatever their misdeeds, they were still just children" (p. 291). Gangs, hatred, and violence are going to influence children and will cause these children to commit bad deeds but we must always remind ourselves that no matter what was done or committed they are still just children.

Racism was seen a great deal of times throughout the book. "For the first time, Pharaoh, now ten, began to wonder aloud about being black. `Do all black people live in projects?' he asked his mother. `Do all black people be poor?' ....`Why don't people elect black people?' The incident at the stadium had unnerved him. He felt that `the police probably don't like black children or something. The white police don't like black children. That's what I believe.'" (p. 161). Many people living in the Henry Horner Projects did not receive the same respect and did not get the same privileges that other people got because many people were prejudiced. Majorities of the people living in the Henry Horner Projects were black and poor. These two groups of people were looked down upon by society because they lacked money and were black, two things they had very little control over.

Not only did the residents of the Henry Horner Project feel this racism and hatred from the majority of the society but they felt this from the police as well. The police were suppose to be there to protect them and uphold their rights, yet, it seemed as though not even the police could stay unbiased toward the children and people at the Henry Horner Projects. "Lafayette later recalled that one of the policemen had warned him he could get hurt out there at night. `I've been living around here all my life and I ain't got hurt so far,' he told the officer. `Only the police have hurt me'" (p. 161). At Horner, the residents could not depend on the police for justice, "They chose to render justice for themselves" (p. 225).

There Are No Children Here portrayed and depicted the many issues and problems concerning inner city projects in our nation. There are many times that society looks down and frowns upon the people and the crime committed in these projects but I think that we need to realize that a majority of the people living in these projects are still children. Children that in a sense, grows up too fast. Kotlowitz wrote an amazing and breathtaking book about the problems that arise in these projects, as well as the voices of the children in the projects that we rarely hear, and often forget exist. These children often have dreams and hopes, which of many, we, as a middle class society, already have and take for granted. "I was gonna make a wish,' he said. `Hope for our family, like get Terence out of jail, get a new house, get out of the projects.' When he disclosed his appeal, he had to stop talking momentarily to keep himself from crying. It hurt to think of all that could have been" (p. 285).


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