Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Our America” as Want to Read:
Our America
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Our America

4.24  ·  Rating Details  ·  1,371 Ratings  ·  267 Reviews
Through two award-winning National Public Radio documentaries, and now this powerful book, LeAlan Jones and Lloyd Newman have made it their mission to be loud voices from one of this country's darkest places, Chicago's Ida B. Wells housing project. Set against the stunning photographs of a talented young photographer from the projects, Our America evokes the unforgiving wo ...more
Paperback, 208 pages
Published May 1st 1998 by Scribner (first published 1997)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Our America, please sign up.

Recent Questions

This question contains spoilers… (view spoiler)
My First Travel Angelic Airline Adventures by Anna OthitisTeach Like a Champion by Doug LemovEducating Esmé by Esmé Raji CodellThe First Days Of School by Harry K. WongSavage Inequalities by Jonathan Kozol
Books every teacher should read
31st out of 149 books — 173 voters
The Devil in the White City by Erik LarsonThe Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey NiffeneggerBinding Arbitration by Elizabeth MarxThe Jungle by Upton SinclairDivergent by Veronica Roth
Books Set in Chicago
138th out of 354 books — 269 voters

More lists with this book...

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 2,803)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  Rating Details
May 28, 2012 Vivienne rated it really liked it
Shelves: teaching
A very powerful book. At times, it can get too heavy-handed and narrowly focused for my own tastes, but I give it four stars for how excellent it is for teaching. One of the greatest challenges of working with ninth graders is teaching empathy, but the direct quotes and narration from the denizens of the Ida B. Wells has somewhat helped my students put themselves into another person's shoes. It is a very powerful book, and it lead me to do a lot of fascinating other research to augment my lesson ...more
Griselda Iniguez
Apr 21, 2014 Griselda Iniguez rated it it was amazing
Read this in the seventh grade, just reread for an English class. I think it's one of the must-reads. It is brilliant, honest, and heart-breaking. Always gets me on a personal level because I am a Chicagoan that lives on the Southside. Nobody ever likes talking about "that" part of the city, just like everything else that makes us uncomfortable.
Lizbeth Martinez
Nov 26, 2008 Lizbeth Martinez rated it it was amazing
I think this book is great so far. What i would like to say to say about this book to someone who hasn't read this is that if they are interested in learning about how different the world is, this is the book for them. this book is about adventure, friendship, vlife, and death. LeAlan and Lloyd's purpose for writing this book is to show people how different other people are. They also wrote it to show people not to judge eachother just by the way they look, live, or where they come from. This bo ...more
Nov 09, 2010 Marcus rated it it was amazing
This book is an incredibly written piece from the perspective of two young men whom live in a world that is routinely spoken about but rarely revealed. The power of the book transcends what had to be the authors original purpose as nearly 15 years later the themes resonate true not only in Chicago but in cities around the world.

As an educator dealing with children in this situation and sharing this book with students it is an incredible link and eye opener for them to see that others have lived
Airton Depina
Mar 13, 2015 Airton Depina rated it really liked it
I like this book a lot because it contain an different story than what Im use to. It tells a story of a "Different America" and many people relate to this story. The author gives us the idea to look at THEIR AMERICA different from AMERICAN you might everyone knows. I learned from this book that not everyone has the same realities in this country and other dont have the same opportunity to live in Country that we believe to be the first in the nation.
Will Harrison
Jan 11, 2016 Will Harrison rated it it was amazing
This is a great, thoughtful & thought-provoking portrayal of hard living in the ghettos of Chicago which I had to read for my African American Experience in the U.S. class a few years back & I'm happy that I did, the question & answer format of the book combined with focused narration is so powerful, these boys asking questions that make you just yearn from your bones for them to be free of such madness especially considering they're so young while yet creating awe & respect for ...more
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Nasiar Landers
Feb 25, 2015 Nasiar Landers rated it it was amazing
Our american by LeAlan Jones and Lloyd Newman is about two best friends who live in the hood. Their names are Lloyd Newman and LeAlan Jones. They do mostly everything together. What they do mostly in the book is talk to their family's about living in the hood. They try their best to get a good education and try their best to get out of the hood. and survive and try to be as successful as they can in their life.

There are a lot of things i like about this book,This book is real about real life stu
Nasiar Landers
Feb 18, 2015 Nasiar Landers rated it it was amazing
Shelves: our-america
Our America by LeAlan Jones and LLoyd Newman is an action novel about two children who lives in the getto. LeAlan and Lloyd are best friend they do everything together. They interview their family's and friends to see thier view of the "hood" they each try their best to get out of the hood.

There are many thing that i like about this book. I like how this book is real with nothing fake. I like how they are well imformative to the reader on what they deal with everyday in reality. This book has al
Dec 30, 2015 Beth rated it it was amazing
Read it! I read this for a class and feel more educated about the dynamic of our "two Americas." As someone from the suburbs, I simply can't imagine or understand the nature of an upbringing anywhere else, say south Chicago, on my own. This book starts with a pretty detailed account of the things a child is exposed to in the city, then delves into a case study of a very tragic crime involving only children. And it's narrated by children! I really enjoyed LeAlan's voice and his very on-point anal ...more
Joselyn Badillo
Apr 21, 2016 Joselyn Badillo rated it really liked it
The book is an accurate representation of the lives of many low-income minority children living not only on the south side of Chicago, as set in the book, but also in various low-income, gang, poverty, and violence stricken neighborhoods across the country. I appreciated the book's authenticity as the story is being told by two boys as they witness and become oblivious to the everyday violence in their Chicago neighborhood. By allowing these two boys to tell their stories, they are given a sense ...more
Apr 15, 2015 Carrie rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: ALL educators
Heartbreaking. There's no other word that comes to mind... just "heartbreaking."

At the school I teach at, we have students from the inner city of Chicago. I know that some of my former students have come from Cabrini Greens and other "projects" in Chicago. I don't know half of the things they have seen, but I know it's bad. This book just confirms it. HOW can we expect students to come to school and care about learning, believe that they can make something of themselves, when this is the reality
Shawnnita Gittens
Jan 01, 2014 Shawnnita Gittens rated it really liked it
In the book Our America two boys LeAlan Jones and Lloyd Newman interviewed people in their community of the ghetto part of Chicago ,the Ida B. Wells projects. While interviewing people in the projects you see that living in the projects is like living in a maze you can't get out. Kids mimic everything they see and kids in the projects fight because that's all that they're exposed to. LeAlan said that living in the projects is like fighting in the Vietnam war ' he makes this refrence because when ...more
Alicia Perozo
Dec 30, 2013 Alicia Perozo rated it it was amazing
Our America

The book that i was sight to was an incredible book to read. This book our america was an awesome book to read because is about two young boys that became best friends. Their name are LeAlan and Lloyd they are best friend since the second they of school. LeAlan and Lloyd always went to each others home and always hang out. LeAlan had two sister and a brother also he has his grandmother name June Marie Jones. His mother was ill and his father was an alcoholic. Now his sister take car
Sep 25, 2013 Jami rated it really liked it
Fantastic! Such an intimate portrait of life in the ghetto and how people survive the war zone. Amazing and inspiring stories!
Kevin Lee
Our America is the story of LeAlan Jones and Lloyd Newman two inner-city Chicago teenagers who eloquently distilled their lives on the Mean Streets. When a local NPR broadcaster conducts a search for "two young, intelligent African Americans to be on the radio" LeAlan Jones and Lloyd Newman talk their way into the offices of radio producer David Isay and as a result both young men are hired as reporters.Our America evokes the unforgiving world of these two amazing young men, and their struggle t ...more
Leonardo Perez
Jun 18, 2015 Leonardo Perez rated it it was amazing
This book is about two African American kids who live in the ghetto of Chicago , they see things they are not suppose to see as kid and do things there are in gangs doing drugs ect And later on in life become successful.think any age 14 + should read this book because it does have racism, murders , drug references and more I think any gender should read this book and people who are interested in books that take place in the projects ,and mythical should read this the callenge on reading this boo ...more
Christopher Brennan
Sep 23, 2014 Christopher Brennan rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2014
A powerful book. So many of the thoughts LeAlan and Lloyd expressed I've witnessed or thought about working in a ghetto community. I chose to eschew the euphemistic here of describing it as "economically depressed" because in so many ways the neighborhood I work in is no different than the neighborhood the authors describe. Crime. Murder. Rape. Gangs. Drugs. No jobs. Collapsing buildings. How can anyone expect a kid to care about math when they walk out their front door to see carnage? I have no ...more
May 03, 2016 Brittany rated it it was amazing
In our society today people still struggle with racism and this book just opens your eyes into a whole new world. It makes you realize what some people deal with on a daily basis. The two authors are the boys that actually grew up in the "projects" and the interview people about how they feel about their daily life and they also tell personal stories of their own. The messages are so powerful and they out a clear picture in your mind. This book is a must read because just like the title it still ...more
Jul 16, 2012 Sarah rated it it was amazing
Shelves: literacy-course
Genre: Nonfiction/Autobiography
Lexile: 750, grade level 8
Age Level: Middle School
Unique feature: Transcribed interviews
Characters: LeAlan, Lloyd, their families, people who live in the Ida B's
Setting: Chicago, Ida B Wells projects
POV: From LeAlan and Lloyd

Our America will give students a glimpse into the lives of LeAlan Jones and Lloyd Newman, two boys growing up in the Ida B. Wells housing projects. Our America started out as two radio documentaries, Ghetto Life 101 and Remorse: The 14 Stories
Nov 26, 2008 Joel rated it it was amazing
Right now since I am reading the book in the class it has been a good book. I like the story so far because it is funny and the kids like to mess around. I liked this book after i had finished reading it.It taught us about how be you know or love will ever help you out whenever you are in trouble. One more thing we met LeAlan in curie highschool which was intresting and fun about what he had told us about. To the people who haven't read this book yet i hope you like it. It teaches you about how ...more
Jan 09, 2011 Carla rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Teens
Recommended to Carla by: Teacher
This book is amazing to read for you are put into two perspectives of young African American boys by the names of LeAlan Jones and Lloyd Newman. This is a new journey that not many individuals have seen or gone through in their life's. These two young boys are given tape recorders so that they can record every day life for them in their town in Chicago. At the time they lived in the Chicago Ida. B Wells housing projects which were notorious for being dangerous. The life style around them is most ...more
Nov 26, 2008 Carmen rated it liked it
This book is about how 1993 change alot. THis book is mostly about gangest and gang. LeAlan and Lloyd interview alot of people,and some of them are their family.Eric death,everything had changed alot. Both of them interview and try to find out alot of evidence that coudl help people remember eric death. Lealan interview everyone,they said that in the city more war,gang fight,gun,and the most importance part is tht people have no job. They are getting disapointed to them. If you like gang and if ...more
Nov 26, 2008 Sergio rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: kids
Recommended to Sergio by: teacher
This book about our america is a cool book to read. it has about three or two parts to the story. it is about a boy named lyod and a boy named lealan who interview everyone they know. and one day therir is a death of eric morse and they are interviweing people who were there at the seen of the crime. and then as the stor ygoes by they are realizing things they dint realize before. it will show you a bunch of htings that you didnt know before. but at first you will be like this book is boring lik ...more
Oct 21, 2011 Albanykid rated it really liked it
This book is about to boys who lived in the ida b. wells and they talked about how living in the projects how has effected them in their lives everyday they describe everything the projects can do to you and what it has been doing to them everyday since living in the projects and what can the projects do to people who live there for a while like drugs get involved,mureders and all types of bad things.

One prediction I made about the book was that lealan and lloyd waz gone find a way to get out o
Javontae Elem
This book is about Lealman Jones and Lloyd Newman and how they have made it their mission to be loud voices from one of this country's darkest places, Chicago's Ida B. Wells housing project. They tell u about there life's and show u around there neighborhood. They also tell u about the thing's they have say with there own eye's in the Ida B. Wells housing project. They tell their own stories and others, including that of the death of Eric Morse, a five-year-old who was dropped to his death from ...more
Oct 21, 2011 Bianca added it
This book was about two boys name LeAlan and Lloyd and how their lives were in the projects on the southside of chicago. The projects they lived in were "Ida B. Wells". Ida B. Wells was no joke. You had to be tough or at least acted tough because in these projects if you didnt. You would be picked on or even killed. LeAlan and Lloyd interviewed their families and others about how they felt about living in the projects. But, they also asked personal things about their lives and how could they ch ...more
Matt W
Nov 02, 2012 Matt W rated it really liked it
This book is based on two young African American boys who live in the Ida B.Wells housing project in Chicago. They are asked by a reporter to go undercover to show people how the life really is with so much poverity and disease. It's even harder to believe because when they did this they had recorders and notepads, so this is exactly what was said and went on.

I like the book because I feel it does a excellent job of having a inside veiw on something the majority of us will never see. It makes
Stephanie Hawkins
Jan 14, 2008 Stephanie Hawkins rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Everyone; educators especially
Recommended to Stephanie by: college professor
Shelves: nonfiction
This was such an insightful view of life in the "ghetto" through the eyes of two teenagers (with the help of an NPR journalist). David Isay has these two thirteen-year-old boys, LeAlan and Lloyd, document their lives in the South Side of Chicago tenements. A few years later, two boys (ten and eleven years old) push a five-year-old out of a fourteen-story building and kill him. David Isay goes back to LeAlan and Lloyd and asks them for some more help. The goal is to try and understand how somethi ...more
Apr 02, 2009 Timmy rated it it was amazing
The book that I read was Our America by LeAlam Jones and Lloyd Newman with David Isay. The genre of this book is non-fiction. The book is told through the view of LeAlan Jones and Lloyd Newman, and is about the life and death on the south side of Chicago around the 1970’s. LeAlan and Lloyd tell all their stories about when growing up in the south side. There are two parts of this book: Ghetto Life 101 and Remorse. Ghetto Life 101 talks about how they lived and how they survived in the ghetto. Re ...more
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 93 94 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • American Project: The Rise and Fall of a Modern Ghetto
  • Never a City So Real: A Walk in Chicago
  • Blueprint for Disaster: The Unraveling of Chicago Public Housing
  • Black on the Block: The Politics of Race and Class in the City
  • Division Street: America
  • Making the Second Ghetto: Race and Housing in Chicago 1940-1960
  • High Rise Stories: Voices from Chicago Public Housing
  • The Plan of Chicago: Daniel Burnham and the Remaking of the American City
  • The Promised Land: The Great Black Migration and How It Changed America
  • Neo-Bohemia: Art and Commerce in the Postindustrial City
  • Heat Wave: A Social Autopsy of Disaster in Chicago
  • Chicago: City on the Make
  • Black Metropolis: A Study of Negro Life in a Northern City
  • American Pharaoh: Mayor Richard J. Daley - His Battle for Chicago and the Nation
  • A Question of Freedom: A Memoir of Learning, Survival, and Coming of Age in Prison
  • Twenty Years at Hull House
  • Making a New Deal: Industrial Workers in Chicago, 1919-1939
  • Boss: Richard J. Daley of Chicago

Share This Book

No trivia or quizzes yet. Add some now »

“When you live in filth, your mind takes in filth and you feel nothing.” 0 likes
More quotes…