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There Are No Children Here: The Story of Two Boys Growing Up in the Other America Audio CD – Audiobook, Unabridged

4.6 out of 5 stars 220 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

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. --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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.
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Product Details

  • Audio CD
  • Publisher: Blackstone Audio, Inc.; Unabridged edition (May 1, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1441734848
  • ISBN-13: 978-1441734846
  • Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 1.1 x 5.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 6.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (220 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,304,368 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By W. M. Davidson on July 21, 2005
Format: Paperback
To hardcore conservatives who believe that the plight of the poor is no one's fault but their own, I say: Read this book. To hardcore liberals who believe the poor are oppressed by society and not responsible for their situation, I say: Read this book. "There are No Children Here" shows that life is more complicated than either extreme. The lives of the people in this book are governed by complex interactions of both personal choices and unavoidable bad luck. The author sympathetically examines the terrible hardships his subjects were born into, but never shies away from showing how their situation is perpetuated by the harmful behavior and relationships they choose to pursue. Whatever your ideology is going in, you will not look at poverty the same way after reading this book.
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Format: Paperback
This book describes a social atmosphere that few people actually experience or fully understand. It only provides a glimpse into the lives of two boys growing up in one of Chicago's public housing areas, but it will leave an everlasting impression in the minds of its readers. Alex Kotlowitz follows the lives of these two young boys as they attempt to navigate through the gang wars, police and government deficiencies, and the poverty stricken Chicago slums. The boys are under 15 years of age, yet they are forced to make decisions that people much older than them struggle with every day. They are forced to struggle through their childhood in poverty and without a father to guide them in those struggles. Kotlowitz looks at the two boys as they watch their friends and family members perish in gang and drug wars, police brutality, or hauled off to prison for other crimes. They also watch as their mother struggles to provide for her family and the governments inefficient handling of Chicago's public housing. The author is able to show the young boys struggle to get an education and succeed in an area filled with failures. They have few role models to guide their decisions and few opportunities for success. Alex Kotlowitz is able to point out the constant struggle these young boys have faced and the opportunities that they are deprived of. He shows how the environment both physically and mentally hampers the two boys opportunity for success and a normal childhood. The book provides an excellent look into the mental struggles they faced as their friends got caught up in gangs, were killed, and started committing petty crimes. Overall this book provides an excellent depiction of life in the Chicago public housing, and the struggle of those two boys as they attempt to survive and succeed in the ghettos.
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Format: Paperback
It's been a few years since I've read this book in its entirety. I first did so as a requirement for my college minor - Youth Agency Administration. This book, quite simply, changed everything for me. Growing up in a small farming community far away from the violence of the inner city, the only view I ever had of the life led by Lafayette & Pharoah came from snippets of the news from larger cities or from movies. It's easy to question the accuracy of both. However, with every page of "There Are No Children Here," I was drawn into the struggle these boys and their family & friends faced every day. I, as many others who have read their story, do wonder what has happened to all of these people since the ending of the book. Bottom line: Yes, the author's elaborations can seem a bit contrived at times, but the facts of the story alone speak for themselves. And, honestly, given the power of this account, what author would not be a bit emotional & contrived? That's the point. I recommend this book to people all the time...even to my boyfriend who grew up in a Chicago neighborhood similar to the one haunted by Lafayette & Pharoah. Regardless of your reason for reading it, your own background, or what you think your views are now, you will bring something away from the experience.
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Format: Paperback
Alex Kotlowitz's novel was written during the middle and late 1980s. It accurately and truthfully describes the living conditions that existed in a Chicago housing project. He details a three year period in the lives of ten year old Lafayette and seven year old Pharaoh which includes their special adventures on the railroad tracks and their constant fear of gang violence and death. The family is caught up in a "culture of poverty". Mr. Kotlowitz includes many, many true characters including the then mayor, housing execs, politicians, police, and gangbangers in the book. But the beauty of the book is the close bond between the brothers in the mist of surrounding chaos. Today Lafayette is still adjusting, but alive. Pharaoh has graduated high school with the help of Mr. Kotlowitz's, and his mother, LaJoe is well. They have since move from the housing projects, but still reside on the westside of Chicago. Mr. Kotkowitz lives in a suburb outside of Chicago. I was police officer in those projects when this book was written.
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Format: Audio Cassette
For those readers who have commented that this book is boring, I have one question....is the existence of this type of devasting poverty boring and insignificant to your partiticular life? This is not a ficitional story of the hardships and struggles of the River's family; rather, it is a harsh reality that exists in our country, one of which we turn our backs and close our eyes to daily. This book is touching only if you understand and acknowledge the facts that perpetuate poverty and welfare-denpendency in the United States. I believe that the readers who comment on LaJoe's laziness are truly portraying their ignorance and stupidity in their comments. In my opinion, this book paints a vivid picture, too vivid for some, of the America that most people do not want to see. My advice for others- read this book because you will be shocked a horrified at our "land of the free." Are those in poverty truly free or are they drowning in a world that smothered them to begin with?
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