When a Heart Turns Rock Solid: The Lives of Three Puerto Rican Brothers On and Off the Streets
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When a Heart Turns Rock Solid: The Lives of Three Puerto Rican Brothers On and Off the Streets

3.68 of 5 stars 3.68  ·  rating details  ·  19 ratings  ·  8 reviews

This provocative and compelling book examines how jobs, schools, the streets, and prisons have shaped the lives and choices of a generation of Puerto Rican youth at the turn of the twenty-first century.

At the center of this riveting account–based on an unprecedented eighteen-year study–are three engaging, streetwise brothers from Spri...more
Hardcover, 464 pages
Published August 4th 2009 by Pantheon (first published July 28th 2009)
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I really enjoyed this book. It's a window into the lives of three Puerto Rican brothers, opening during their teenage years. This author gives us a raw glimpse into their struggles with love, drugs, and violence in a sociological study that spans nearly two decades. One of the brothers, Sammy, does a line of coke in his 6th grade classroom, older brother Fausto watched another inmate eviscerate another with his bare hands, and the eldest Julio, is the glue that holds this dysfunctional family to...more
I was really looking forward to this book, spent a long time on the hold list for it at the library, and therefore feel extra disappointed that I'm giving it up. I think you have to be as immersed and devoted to racial and classist social issues as the author (an academic) is if you want to make it through the book. The sections that actually profile the lives of the main characters are regularly interrupted by extended diatribes on the inequities embedded in American society. My eyes were rolli...more
Robert Hironimus-Wendt
"When A Heart Turns Rock Solid" is a powerful and moving ethnography. Black's book belongs on the same shelf as MacLeod's "Ain't No Makin' It," Kozol's "Amazing Grace," and Kotlowitz's "There Are No Children Here." The only difference is that in this case, the children grow up, and are consumed by the streets in full view.

This is the "rest of the story" that is missing from most ethnographies of urban misery. Here, we watch as three brothers simply lose. The significance of this book is that Bl...more
This book is a blend of non-fiction and sociology. Dr. Timothy Black, a professor, spent many years with three Puerto Rican brothers and their extended family and friends. He tells their stories and includes a sociological background and context that helps the reader understand the forces that shaped the lives of these men.

The stories and information are comprehensive, but overall the book seemed dry and lacked ease and flow. I have read similar books such as American Dream by Jason DeParle and...more
I mainly read this because the men that the author chose to study come from my hometown and I wanted to see how that would be portrayed. The book turned out to be a decent social commentary regarding three Puerto Rican brothers growing up and strugling to get their lives on track. It definitely made me think about how having all these barriers in your life can keep you down sometimes no matter how hard you try. I would have rated this book a bit higher had the author not gone off on tangents dis...more
Annie Oosterwyk
This book reveals the connection between colonialism, capitalism, racism, cultural beliefs and poverty in a Puerto Rican family. The three brothers grow up with the odds stacked against them in a poor neighborhood where selling drugs is an attractive option- sometimes the only option. Tim Black does a good job of showing how this is not a personal choice, but a societal failure.
I hope to come back to this book someday, but for now it just failed to hold my attention. The writing is good, but it's just too much right now.
Very thought-provoking.
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