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Zebratown: The True Story of a Black Ex-Con and a White Single Mother in Small-Town America

3.33  ·  Rating Details ·  42 Ratings  ·  11 Reviews
Eight years in the making, this edgy, in-depth account follows a black felon’s attempt to find a new life for himself with a white woman in a small-town neighborhood where—as the book’s title implies—such relationships are common. A remarkably intense read, Zebratown reveals a rhythm of life spiked with violence, betrayal, sex, and the emotional dangers created by passiona ...more
ebook, 288 pages
Published August 24th 2010 by Scribner (first published July 30th 2010)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
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Oct 15, 2011 Danya rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Random Families is one of my favorite books... this one is even better. Well written, well observed, fully relatable...
I'm really not sure how to describe my feelings on this book.

I read it really honestly wanting to learn about this phenomenon occurring in Elmira. I live in this area and it's definitely very prevalent (although I know it's also happening in Binghamton, and probably other cities too). I have personal experience seeing the (abusive, violent) results of this type of situation involving a family member, and I wanted to know if there were aspects I wasn't taking into account.

Sadly, this book just co
Jun 29, 2010 Toni rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sociology
The subtitle sums it all up, doesn't it? Charles is an ex-con from Brooklyn who spent quite a bit of time in the prison system. While in the Elmira facility he would look out the window at the town of Elmira and imagine it as a perfect place to settle upon his release. He hopes that it will be easier to stay out of trouble there than back home in Brooklyn.

Kathy, his soon to be girlfriend, is like a lot of young, white women in Elmira and the surrounding areas. They struggle to build good lives
Feb 25, 2015 Lynsie rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfictionilove
This book is the story of two people, and the story of a phenomenon in much of rural America. I do not believe that the author is trying to excuse the sins of the people he is writing about, but that this is just a factual look at the lives of these people, and a telling of their story. Interesting, voyeuristic, and captivating.
Paige Kinnaird
Jul 27, 2011 Paige Kinnaird rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Paige by: Book club
A non-fiction work that tells the story of a former prison inmate who relocates from New York City to Elmira. It is the story of his years out of the prison system and the life he tries to build in this town.

I found parts of the book interesting, particularly the historical pieces of the area. Other parts were more disturbing.
Ruth Charchian
Elmira, NY is upstate from NYC in beautiful, rolling, quiet, countryside. Having lived near there, I never expected it was densely populated with interracial married couples/families. It is a difficult place to make a living and raise a family. The author does a remarkable job of telling one story about this town and the struggles of the people who choose to live there.
Chris Sherwood
Oct 25, 2012 Chris Sherwood rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I give one star only because no stars make it look like I forgot to rate it.

Poorly written, rife with inaccuracies and glorifies a small percentage of the population of Elmira as somehow smarter and better than the locals, especially law enforcement. Multiple chapters dragged. Overall it was poorly written.
Austin Jayne
Feb 10, 2011 Austin Jayne rated it it was amazing
i liked the book alot not only because it was based on elmira but based on a prisoner and his girlfriend. Some of the events that took place i remembered or actually felt like i was there. If i could read it again i probably would and i would perfer for you or someone to read it if they like good books.
Dec 13, 2012 Corina rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I'm a fan of Greg Donaldson, so I gave the book a try! It's an okay book but I'm not a fan of grown men who like to make excuses and refuse to grow up so I only gave it 2 stars. Some parts dragged and other parts had me glued to the pages...I'll only recommend it with a warning attached to it.
Gina Beirne
Nov 10, 2010 Gina Beirne rated it it was ok
Shelves: non-fiction, read2011
I didn't think it was particularly well-written, but Zebratown is an interesting look at the culture of my hometown.
I put together some pieces overnight and realized Zebratown is all the more interesting to me in that I know the family of "Joy."
Amy rated it really liked it
Mar 25, 2011
Michelle rated it liked it
Jan 22, 2011
Christi Olson
Christi Olson rated it it was ok
Jul 25, 2011
Daniel Mathews
Daniel Mathews rated it it was ok
Jan 12, 2012
Patricia Samuel
Patricia Samuel rated it it was amazing
Sep 22, 2015
Mar 25, 2011 Christy rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A glimpse into the life of one of my current students....couldn"t put it down.
Al Edmond
Al Edmond rated it it was amazing
Jan 17, 2014
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Feb 21, 2016
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don presnell rated it it was ok
Nov 18, 2012
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Oct 05, 2015
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Michaelle Shaw rated it liked it
Sep 27, 2011
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Sep 27, 2010
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Dec 31, 2010
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Keith Wilson rated it it was ok
May 02, 2012
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Oct 20, 2010
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Mary Sindlinger rated it liked it
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