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Ordinary Resurrections: Children in the Years of Hope Paperback – July 24, 2012

4.7 out of 5 stars 24 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Stepping back from his 30-year attack on the inequalities of education, Jonathan Kozol allows the children to speak for themselves in Ordinary Resurrections. These are the schoolchildren of South Bronx's most dismal neighborhood, Mott Haven, where social struggles with poverty and imprisoned fathers rate just under AIDS and asthma as the greatest threats to young lives. Yet, Kozol marvels, despair and bitterness don't come to mind when you meet 10-year-olds like Ariel, who "skips through life" and displays a healing tenderness to others at the church afterschool program that has become a living laboratory of sorts for Kozol since he wrote Savage Inequalities in 1996. This is "not the land of bad statistics but the land of licorice sticks and long division, candy bars and pencil sets," he writes. In recording conversations between these kids and each other, their teachers, caretakers, parents, and even himself, Kozol manages to move the adults to the periphery in order to let the children teach. There is no government data, no research conclusions, only a sense of hope and wonder at the resiliency of the young.

Kozol readily admits that he's due for a reflective moment. In his 60s, living alone, his parents seriously ill, he seeks safety in surrounding himself with children. He confesses that he's not a religious man, yet he finds himself overcoming his awkwardness with prayer, even bowing his head with the children at times. His writing in this moving account is among his most eloquent, as when he describes the gentle way in which a teacher tugs for the attention of a dreamy first-grader as if carefully unwrapping a small package that may be breakable. He captures the rhythm of the exchanges between teacher and student in a way that practically whispers to the reader. Ultimately, this is a book about healing that reveals more about the lives of children in poor neighborhoods--and Kozol--than any of his prizewinning books to date. --Jodi Mailander Farrell --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Publishers Weekly

A persistent voice of conscience, Kozol poses the question: do we want our schools to remain segregated and unequal? The National Book Award-winning education activist revisits Mott Haven, a poverty-stricken section of the South Bronx that was the setting for his two previous books, Amazing Grace and Savage Inequalities. The tone here is more optimistic, partly because his extended conversations and interactions with children take place not only at public elementary schools, but also at a supportive after-school center run by St. Ann's Church, a neighborhood Episcopalian congregation that reaches out to the hungry and homeless. Ranging in age from six to 12, all of the children in Kozol's empathetic, leisurely portraits are black or Hispanic; some know hunger; many have lost at least one relative to AIDS; a large number of them see their fathers only when they visit them in prison. Many have asthma or other severe respiratory problems, which Kozol blames on the high density of garbage facilities in the area and on a waste incinerator that was not shut down until 1998 after protests by community activists, environmentalists and doctors. His sensitive profiles highlight these kids' resilience, quiet tenacity, eagerness to learn and high spirits, as well as the teachers' remarkable dedication despite sharp cutbacks in personnel and services; overcrowded, decaying buildings; and crime-riddled streets. Yet as Kozol makes piercingly clear, the students' "ordinary resurrections" can only go so far amid what he calls "apartheid education," a racially and economically segregated school system that in effect assigns disadvantaged children to constricted destinies. Major ad/promo; 11-city author tour. (May)
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 416 pages
  • Publisher: Broadway Books (July 24, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 077043567X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0770435677
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.9 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (24 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,052,377 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
Jonathan Kozol, author of Ordinary Resurrections, was a teacher in the 1960's until, legend has it, he was fired for reading a Langston Hughes poem to his students in inner-city Boston. Since his forced departure from the classroom, Kozol has been a student of public education, focusing on the inequities of quality of education between the haves and the have-nots. His books include: Death at an Early Age; The Night is Dark and I am far From Home; Rachel and her Children; Savage Inequalities; and Amazing Graces.
Kozol describes his current work:
"This is a book about a group of children whom I've come to know during their early years of life, not in the infant years but in the ones just after, when they start to go to school and poke around into the world and figure out what possibilities for hope and happiness it holds. Most of these children live within a section of the South Bronx called Mott Haven which, for much of the past decade, was the nation's epicenter for the plague of pediatric and maternal AIDS and remains one of the centers of an epidemic of adult and pediatric asthma that has swept across the inner-city populations of our nation in these years."
At the end of the book's introduction, Kozol says: "I'm grateful to the priest and congregation of St. Ann's (Church - of Morrisania - Episcopalian) for giving me the privilege to share the lives of children here...But most of all I'm grateful to the children, who have been so kind and generous to me, as they have been to many people who do nothing to deserve their loyalty and love, which aren't for sale and never can be earned, and who, with bashful voices, tiny fingers, sometimes unintended humor, and wise hearts, illuminate the lives of everyone who know them.
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Format: Hardcover
I think it's very telling that Jonathan Kovol is friends withFred Rogers (one of my heroes) and talks about that in this book, ashis writing reminds me of how Mister Rogers talks---his extremely strong feelings of love and caring and understanding of the children he is friends with (for that is what he is, friends, not an observer) comes through in every sentence. It's inspiring to read about the lives these children are living---how they manage to have a happy childhood and remain innocent and caring in such a tough environment, but you know the road ahead for them is not going to be an easy one. If you don't feel outraged after reading this book about the state of the public schools in big cities, you haven't read too carefully. And the fault is not where so many like to put it--with the teachers, with the students, with the parents, the fault is with a society where people are getting richer and richer but there is still not enough money to have reasonable class sizes in cities, to restore music and arts and doctors in the schools taken away 20 years ago, and to have a graduation rate not as shameful as the one where most of these kids will go to high school. This book really moved me and I am going to work harder to improve my childrens' urban schools.
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Format: Paperback
This powerful work is at once inspiring, frustrating and captivating. Kozol draws the reader into a world called Mott Haven that is filled with substance, love, service and hope. He poignantly describes the lives of children while blasting the manner in which we have chosen to deal with our most needy sectors of society. Kozol's gifted and powerful storytelling reminds us of several truths:
1. Segregation is potentially a bigger problem today than ever. White flight, private schools, school choice, home-schooling, virtual schools and lack of equitable access to technology are widening the gap.
2. Inequities in education must be addressed with the underlying belief that every child has the potential to achieve his/her dreams. Society must be responsible and held accountable for creating conditions ensuring that this occurs.
3. Teachers and students must all be able to work and learn in optimum conditions that safeguard and ensure dignity.
4. Although children appear to be resilient, we must protect their innocence, ensure they have the chance to dream and be inspired by their eternal optimism and hope. The real heroes of today are those who spend time with our children, listening to and nurturing their dreams.
5. We spend too much on our prison system and must figure out a way to divert that funding to education and healthcare so we can be proactive rather than reactive.

Kozol manages to convey the realities of inner city education by illuminating the complexities behind the daily challenges facing teachers and parents.
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Format: Hardcover
There are traps all to easy to fall into when writing a book recounting one's interactions with children. The children can be simplified into charicatures, they can be made more complex and no longer childlike, and they can be modified to fit the author's argument. Mr. Kozol draws upon 40 years of working with children to avoid these pitfalls in telling the inspiring and haunting stories of these wonderful children. Mr. Kozol writes with a beautiful simplicity that is both stirring and honest. This is a fabulous book.
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