This New York Public Library selection, as one of the 150 most important books of the 20th century, is a true-life portrait of growing up in the Chicago projects.
This national best-seller chronicles the true story of two brothers coming of age in the Henry Horner public housing complex in Chicago. Lafeyette and Pharoah Rivers are 11 and nine years old when the story begins in the summer of 1987. Living with their mother and six siblings, they struggle against grinding poverty, gun violence, gang influences, overzealous police officers, and overburdened and neglectful bureaucracies. Immersed in their lives for two years, Kotlowitz brings us this classic rendering of growing up poor in America's cities.
©1991 Alex Kotlowitz (P)2010 Blackstone Audio, Inc.
"A triumph of empathy as well as a significant feat of reporting." (Los Angeles Times)
"Alex Kotlowitz's story informs the heart. His meticulous portrait of the two boys in a Chicago Housing project shows how much heroism is required to survive, let alone escape." (New York Times)
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"My life was changed by reading this book."
Shocking, angering, hopeful
Dion did an excellent job for the most part... a little slow at times. There were only a few times when his annunciation knocked me out of my listening dream.
Every moment! This was a roller coaster ride of a book.
This book is so powerful, so well researched, so intimate while paying attention to the broader picture... I told my husband that if I wrote something this meaningful and essential to understanding life in America and race relations today, I would die a happy woman. Bravo a million times over.
Don't know why I had not read this before. This book went on to become a nonfiction classic, often assigned in sociology classes. Written in the 1980s, it is -- sadly -- all still true. Not an easy reality. Told thru the eyes of children. Complicated. Unbiased. There is no better narrator than Dion Graham, who was especially able in bringing this story home.
Recommended for the same people who appreciate Michelle Alexander's The New Jim Crow. You might also like Gangleader for a Day.
Lately, I have been reading books along the lines of this one, complex and wonderful and painful books about living black and/or poor (usually both) in America. This book stands above many, as it is written and read extraordinarly well.
The boys and their large family, their friends, their hopes and fears, describe what it was like 25 years ago living in the Chicago projects. It is not so different now, as evidenced by more recent works.
I wish that there were an update on the boys and their lives, what has changed and what has remained the same. but this book on its own provides a complex look at life - the decisions that are made whether by necessity or by poor judgment - that would and should be required reading.
Warning: Conservatives might say that it is too liberal and lenient, excusing poor choices; hard-line liberals may say that there is no personal responsibility required by these economically depressed people.
If both hardliners are unhappy - and the complexity of this book would indicate that this might be the case - then the author has done his job well.
"Tough but necessary read"
I read this book based on its reviews and accolades. I'm glad that I did and would encourage everyone to do the same.....especially those like me who live in white suburbia. Move always heard about the projects but feel I have a much clearer, better understanding of the daily life and death battles that so many live with each day. It's horrific and heartbreaking and I'm grateful to have been enlightened.
"Reality in the Projects"
This book is high on the list of non-fiction. It is a though provoking piece on public programs in this country and the bureaucracy that is one of the main reasons for its failure.
Dion's reading of this book appeals to me because you are getting the story without the emotion that could cloud the facts.
The book elicited feelings of hopelessness.
"An astounding and revealing real life story"
I seldom come across a tale this affecting and powerful. Again I listened to this via Audible.com and I was not at any moment disappointed. Dion Graham is a seasoned and expressive narrator. The story is one that cuts straight to the heart of Chicago's innercity housing problems through the eyes of two young boys Lafayette and Pharoah. Kotlowitz somehow manages to strip away the distance one might feel in a typical journo-based human interest piece and replaces that with something incredibly experiential. I am certainly going to look for more of his writing after this.
Pharoah was my favourite character. I think that his undying sense of love over senseless violence and injustice at first comes across as naiive but really when you look at it, he asks some very obvious and potent questions. I know that his life has been hard upto now... mi only hope he has maintained that spirit as a young man.
Graham's voice is superb. I cannot fault his insights as a narrator. he cerhtainly brought the book to life for me and Icould not, could not stop listening to him!
I dont think the subtitle needs changing
Read this book!!!!
"Must-read for Chicagoans!"
I experienced so many feelings listening to this book, and I learned so much about the failings of public housing and law enforcement. Do you like The Wire? Read this now.
I loved it and loved them. I wish we new were Lafayette and Farrow are now. This was a reminder that there is still in 2015 a lot of work to do.
"Incredible story magnificently performed!"
Well crafted and performed. Makes me feel very thankful for the life I have. Gives me a heightened awareness of what it feels like to live on the other side of the tracks.
"Sad disturbing tale of life in the projects."
It 's hard to say. I would imagine they would be much the same.
No. Pretty desperate and sad. Like watching a train wreck. disturbing.
The language is embarrassingly flowery. So many clichés and trite descriptions. Yet despite this the story is fantastic. So glad I perservered despite the terrible writing style. This true story of a family growing up in the projects: It's like watching a train wreck in slow motion. How can the brothers survive? and if they do survive will they ever get out of that place? Or are they doomed to be like everyone else?
How could this happen in America and who's responsible?
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