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Show Them You're Good: A Portrait of Boys in the City of Angels the Year Before College Hardcover – August 18, 2020
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“[The] young men [in Hobbs's book are] smart and curious, alert to the absurdity of adult life, keenly aware of grownups’ hypocrisy, and determined not to be seen as clichés. They faced all the messy realities of life — illness, poverty, unreliable parents — and 'pushed ahead anyway, in the very best way.'” —Boston Globe
“A well-written and utterly compelling read.” —Nicholas Sparks in Parade Magazine
“[An] exceptional work of investigative journalism. . . . A stirring examination of life in LA, the country’s political landscape, the flaws of the American higher education system, and the rites of passage from boyhood into manhood. Laced with compassion, insight, and humor, this appealing study deserves a wide readership.” —Publishers Weekly, starred review
“With [Hobbs’s] fly-on-the-wall reporting style, life happens and the boys emerge fully themselves: driven, funny, sweet, wise, terrified, excited. A uniquely illuminating window onto the lives of young people in the midst of a hugely consequential year.” —Booklist
“Hobbs gained [the boys'] trust, so he was able to examine their motivations and private fears in a manner that reveals them as both unique and, in many ways, typical of their age, culture and place...Hobbs wisely does not draw conclusions, since life is for living and there is much on the horizon for his young protagonists.” —Bookreporter
“This book is a magical portrait of young men who share one city but vastly different circumstances as they cross into adulthood. Each character shimmers with life as they struggle to find their place in contemporary society. The paths of these close friends converge in high school and diverge most poignantly four years later, as some achieve their dreams and others fall heartbreakingly short, while measuring themselves against one another. A beautiful story about the heartache and the joy of boys becoming men in a society that does not know how to recognize or welcome them equally.” —Helen Thorpe, author of The Newcomers and Just Like Us
“With extraordinary heart, grace, and empathy, Jeff Hobbs shines a bright light on the hopes and aspirations of four young men whose lives will profoundly move you. Enthralling and unforgettable, Show Them You’re Good is a deeply satisfying masterwork of nonfiction.”
—Gilbert King, Pulitzer Prize–winning author of Devil in the Grove
“Kudos to Jeff Hobbs for immersing himself in an experience that few of us would care to revisit. His sensitive, beautifully rendered portraits of nine boys at two LA high schools are full of humor and insight.”
—Mark Bowden, author of The Last Stone and Hue 1968
“This is a fascinating and engrossing look at America today that focuses on the pressures and inequalities of opportunity affecting high school students as they work to gain access to the best college they can afford. It’s also a book filled with joy, heartbreak, and love as we meet the parents, siblings, teachers, and friends who accompany these four on their journey from boys to men.”
—Will Schwalbe, New York Times bestselling author of The End of Your Life Book Club and Books for Living
“Show Them You’re Good is fair, painstakingly reported, suspenseful, ethical, and, above all, empathetic. Hobbs is obviously a remarkably good listener; these boys opened up to him because he earned their trust. The result was that he made me care—really care—about them.”
—Anne Fadiman, author of The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down
“This book is such a deeply intimate and deeply moving coming-of-age story, one that wouldn’t let me go—and one that left me rooting for these boys, hoping that each of them finds their footing in the world. Once again, Jeff Hobbs has pulled off a remarkable triumph of empathy.”
—Alex Kotlowitz, author of An American Summer
About the Author
- Item Weight : 1.1 pounds
- Hardcover : 336 pages
- ISBN-10 : 1982116331
- ISBN-13 : 978-1982116330
- Product Dimensions : 6 x 1 x 9 inches
- Publisher : Scribner (August 18, 2020)
- Language: : English
- Best Sellers Rank: #223,475 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
Top reviews from the United States
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"Show Them You're Good" is timely in its subject matter - focusing on those high pressure months before college (public school...not the private school "Desperate Parents" edition), college admissions in our culture being the worth definer on the horizon from birth...and sometimes pre-birth. It is also an inside look at coming-of-age boys separated by "22 miles of pavement" and socioeconomic realities. But this book is absent any predictable heavy-handed agenda. Hobbs is too insightful a writer to draw 2-dimensional characters - "Compton Kid", "Beverly Hills Kid."
This book is far more poignant and lyrical than the title suggests. Hobbs is an empathetic writer who draws nuanced portraits of 17-year-old boys on the verge of becoming men. Their stories are set against the environments in which they live, but each voice is unique - their family challenges, their histories and their dreams. Hobbs captures the moments in their day to day lives...in the pressure cooker of college applications but also the silliness of childhood friends about to go their separate ways. Sad at times. Also, laugh out loud funny.
What he ends up capturing is the "magic hour" in these lives....that most colorful, precious, fleeting moment before it all will change.