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There Are No Children Here: The Story of Two Boys Growing Up in The Other America Paperback – January 5, 1992
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There Are No Children Here, the true story of brothers Lafeyette and Pharoah Rivers, ages 11 and 9 at the start, brings home the horror of trying to make it in a violence-ridden public housing project. The boys live in a gang-plagued war zone on Chicago's West Side, literally learning how to dodge bullets the way kids in the suburbs learn to chase baseballs. "If I grow up, I'd like to be a bus driver," says Lafeyette at one point. That's if, not when--spoken with the complete innocence of a child. The book's title comes from a comment made by the brothers' mother as she and author Alex Kotlowitz contemplate the challenges of living in such a hostile environment: "There are no children here," she says. "They've seen too much to be children." This book humanizes the problem of inner-city pathology, makes readers care about Lafeyette and Pharoah more than they may expect to, and offers a sliver of hope buried deep within a world of chaos.
From Publishers Weekly
The devastating story of brothers Lafayette and Pharoah Rivers, children of the Chicago ghetto, is powerfully told here by Kotlowitz, a Wall Street Journal reporter who first met the boys in 1985 when they were 10 and seven, respectively. Their family includes a mother, a frequently absent father, an older brother and younger triplets. We witness the horrors of growing up in an ill-maintained housing project tyrannized by drug gangs and where murders and shootings frequently occur. Lafayette tries to cope by stifling his emotions and turning himself into an automaton, while Pharoah first attempts to regress into early childhood and then finds a way out by excelling at school. Kotlowitz's affecting report does not have a "neat and tidy ending. . . . It is, instead, about a beginning, the dawning of two lives." These are lives at a crossroads, not totally without hope of triumphing over their origin. ( Apr .
Copyright 1991 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Top customer reviews
It's a rough neighborhood and they have to contend with drug dealers, over crowded schools, random gunfire, poor housing, hostility from the police, amongst other problems. The kids are used to ducking for cover when they hear a gunfight break out outside their apartment. They have a bathtub that never stops running and an oven that doesn't always work. They have friends who are murdered.
It's a tough place to grow up but the author gives us their positive moments. Pharoah is an aspiring spelling bee competitor and has a personal refuge in a grassy neighborhood a few blocks away. Lafayette befriends an amateur local dj and helps his mother take care of the household.
This is an amazing book. It reminded me of great 19th century authors like Dickens. It's that good. Recommended with no qualifications whatsoever.
Unfortunately, Ronald Reagan's image of welfare mothers driving Cadillacs persist today, perhaps even more so than when he spoke of it in the 80's. But this book explains the realities of good people in horrible circumstances, doing the best they can for their kids and the kids struggling to survive, never mind thrive, in incredibly bad circumstances.
I only hope that conditions have improved since this book was written...but I strongly suspect they haven't. Until we help people in these circumstances, America in its own right, will be a third world country, regrettably.
Overall, if you really want to know what we are up against as community developers and administrators in impoverished urban American, READ THIS BOOK! I am glad I added it to my library.
Most recent customer reviews
This book is well written which makes it such a good read.
Mr. Kotlowitz did his research the old fashion way.Read more