In this amazing piece of journalism, Adrian LeBlanc not only gives us a glimpse into the lives of the struggling underclass; she literally puts us inIn this amazing piece of journalism, Adrian LeBlanc not only gives us a glimpse into the lives of the struggling underclass; she literally puts us in their shoes and makes us feel like we're living their lives with them. "Random Family" reads like a novel; the prose is tight, detailed and sucks you in right away. But you never forget that these are REAL people, not just characters living in LeBlanc's mind. Coco, Jessica, Cesar, Mercedes, Serena -- they are all painfully human at times. By the middle of the book, I felt like I knew the characters personally, and I was desperate to know how their lives turned out.
What I really loved about this book was how LeBlanc managed to tell the story of these people's lives without judgment or criticism. At times I wondered why the mothers didn't put their daughters on birth control, or why Coco didn't try harder to get off of welfare.....but LeBlanc manages to show how the ball & chain of circumstance, and the vicious cycle of poverty limited their choices.
What is really true about this book is that you only understand poverty if you yourself live in poverty, or if you're able to understand why poverty persists. "Random Family" manages to open our eyes to why poverty is so prevalent in the south Bronx among this group of Puerto Ricans. One of the things I noticed was how the majority of the people in the book lacked good role models and how that sadly shaped their fate.
At times, I became frustrated with the main characters' inability and seeming unwillingness to better their own situation and that of their children. But it was at those times that LeBlanc would write another enthralling chapter and I would once again see things from Coco or Jessica's perspective.
"Random Family" is tuly a remarkable book, and an amazing example of successful journalism; LeBlanc actually immersed herself in this culture and lived Coco's life with her for 11 years. Yet, LeBlanc manages to write an entire book without mentioing herself once and without ever letting the reader know that she's personally involved in their lives. It's quite an amazing accomplishment. I highly recommend "Random Family" and I think it's the first book I've read that realistically pulls those people at the margins of society back into clear, central focus....more
Amazing, amazing, amazing. I can't say enough about how wonderful and provocative Boyle's short stories are. I just recently found my copy of this booAmazing, amazing, amazing. I can't say enough about how wonderful and provocative Boyle's short stories are. I just recently found my copy of this book at the bottom of a box and I was reminded of how much I LOVED his work....more
John Hart won the Edgar Award for this novel and for good reason, I suppose. It's a fast paced, roller coaster ride of mystery and suspense. Mystery lJohn Hart won the Edgar Award for this novel and for good reason, I suppose. It's a fast paced, roller coaster ride of mystery and suspense. Mystery lovers will enjoy the story of a young southern man, Adam Chase, who returns to his hometown in North Carolina after five years away. Adam is a truly prodigal son; he beat a murder charge five years agon when the left the south. He returns at the bequest of his best friend, only to walk into two new murders, and a deep well of family secrets. Only 3 stars because I am not usually into mystery novels, and I thought the characters were very formula. However, it was a good beach/vacation read because it was a quick read and I liked the southern setting....more
This is the female version of 'Roots.' I wanted to like it more than I did. However, it was still very, very good. Aminata Diallo lived a peaceful andThis is the female version of 'Roots.' I wanted to like it more than I did. However, it was still very, very good. Aminata Diallo lived a peaceful and quiet life in her African village of Bayo. Her world is shattered however, at the age of 11, when she is kidnapped and sold into slavery on the African coast. Her parents are killed before her very eyes and she is subjected to the worst forms of physical abuse and neglect. She somehow manages to survive the harrowing journey aboard a slave ship bound for Sullivan's island and is sold to an indigo plantation in South Carolina. From there her life takes many harrowing twists and turns. Aminata holds firm to her one true dream of someday returning "home" to Africa. However she must ultimately choose between her dream and her freedom. I thought the plot was a bit unrealistic at times, hence the 4 stars instead of 5....more
This book was a quick read, but I didn't enjoy it all that much. I've decided that Ursula Hegi is not the author for me. I could never finish 'StonesThis book was a quick read, but I didn't enjoy it all that much. I've decided that Ursula Hegi is not the author for me. I could never finish 'Stones from the River' and this one was so uninspiring. I am also in a weird place mentally and finding it hard to concentrate on reading. That could explain my dislike of this book as well....more
I found this book difficult to review. It was emotionally intense and even disturbing at times. The story reminded me a lot of "We Need to Talk AboutI found this book difficult to review. It was emotionally intense and even disturbing at times. The story reminded me a lot of "We Need to Talk About Kevin," but it revolved more around a criminal case and an actual trial. There were some legal inaccuracies in the book (Objection!! Hearsay!!!!!!), and some rude statements about defense attorneys, which annoyed me. Overall however, the book was very very good and kept me thinking long after I finished the last page. I'm still pondering things that the story brought up in my mind (I need to discuss the book with someone who has read it), but it is hard to say more here without giving things away. Ultimately I give "Defending Jacob" 4 stars for it's thought-provoking themes of the sins of the father and nurture vs. nature....more