Fantastically written and crucially important, this look at the demographic straddling the poverty-line in the US personalizes the political by introdFantastically written and crucially important, this look at the demographic straddling the poverty-line in the US personalizes the political by introducing the reader to the issues and factors contributing to the struggles of those trying to make ends meet in a minimum wage world.
The book was fair and thorough, and at times, incredibly touching. It was realistic, and aside from the brief moment in the final chapter where the author lapsed briefly into a tirade that used his book as a platform to promote his liberal political inclinations, (a bend that the rest of the book intentionally shies away from, and a stance that the author ultimately, at least in words, rejects,) it was absolutely great.
Highly recommended. And I'd love to read a book of this sort that focuses on other first world countries....more
This was my second ethnography on a homeless population, (the first being Sidewalk, which I thought was fantastic, and that certainly colored my opiniThis was my second ethnography on a homeless population, (the first being Sidewalk, which I thought was fantastic, and that certainly colored my opinion of this book, demoting it by a star. It was interesting, moving, and important. It was potentially outdated (I'm not sure what the policies are in the US in 2016)...but it was also one-sided. The author calls for increased and improved government services for the poor and homeless, and while in theory it all sounds fine and dandy, having moved from the US to a socialist country, and being friends with many people who are eligible for supplemental income from the government, I can say resolutely that it's not all it's cracked up to be. Even without the stigma (which doesn't exist here, at least among the people I know) it still brings with it a demoralizing effect, and isn't particularly accessible, even to those who qualify. There must be a better solution out there.
Regardless of my opinion that differs from the author's, this book earned itself only 3 stars primarily because I felt it dragging. I usually love this sort of thing. In this case, I didn't. It was definitely good, but also definitely not great....more
This was a semi-charming, somewhat simplistic look at the life of Israeli teens in the 80's. Reading this account almost 30 years later, this is a snaThis was a semi-charming, somewhat simplistic look at the life of Israeli teens in the 80's. Reading this account almost 30 years later, this is a snapshot of a time in Israel's history when life was simpler and more uniquely Israeli, a time when there was no TV broadcast in the early afternoon and everyone had a siesta, a time when most teens still felt the responsibility to defend the nation and help their families based on ideals, and had a strong dose of respect for the older generations based on what they'd been through and what they did for the younger members of society.
Although I'm not an expert on Israeli society, or of teens today, and certainly not of teens in Israel, it seems those days are gone, making this book a sort of unintentional memorial to that which has been lost.
The shift since that time in educational choices and values is also salient, and likely all these changes have roots in a common, or at least in related, causes.
I have vague secondhand memories of the Israel the author describes, but I don't think it exists any longer, making the book more historical than contemporary, as books like this tend to become quite quickly.
The one thing the author touches on that seems to have remained a constant is the level of happiness and satisfaction found in Israeli society. After all, Israel continues to rate as one of the world's happiest countries. Still, (Spoiler alert, if there can be such a thing as a spoiler in non-fiction when dealing with a society's past that has already unfolded,) despite his realization that the Israeli focus on simplicity and family, rather than on status, wealth, and material comforts leads to a happier life, the closest Clayton-Felt can conceive of to adopting that lifestyle is "to someday have a small summer house near the sea in Herzliyya so that I can have the best of both worlds and continue the life I started there as well as the one I have here." (p93.) His youthful naivete prevents him from realizing that it's very hard to have your cake and eat it, too.
As an aside, on p70-71, the author refers to the social group as "the chaver" when in fact he means "the chevre" or "chevra." "Chaver" means 'friend', not "group." His fact-checking leaves something to be desired, therefore.
This book likely made it to publication because his father is an author. Still, taking the length into consideration, the investment is small, so it's worth a look.
After reading Nafisi's other book (Things I've been silent about) I had lowered my expectations for this book. I think that's why I found it satisfyinAfter reading Nafisi's other book (Things I've been silent about) I had lowered my expectations for this book. I think that's why I found it satisfying. It also provided more personal context to her stories. The political/feminist aspect was certainly interesting, though there was a certain amount of self-congratulation that I found to be irritating. It would also have been a richer reading experience had I actually read most of the works that the author discussed in her book, but my background on these literary works was limited.
As an aside: The description of the book places emphasis on the author's covert meetings with students in her home, but a good portion of the book took place in the classes she gave in a university setting, which provides far less drama. A small but valid bone to pick....more
THIS is the epitome of the type of book I like to read. It's informative, entertaining (though I didn't find it hysterical as many of the reviewers diTHIS is the epitome of the type of book I like to read. It's informative, entertaining (though I didn't find it hysterical as many of the reviewers did, I tend not to like books that are trying to be ALL funny as they usually aren't. But I did laugh aloud once or twice while reading, which is VERY rare for me.) and so easy to read that it's the literary equivalent of butter (goes down so smooth) or...whatever is super easy to digest. I didn't want to put it down for a moment, and Roach provided great food for thought. Religious views aside, I'd probably have selected one of the alternatives to standard burial that are provided in this book, making it practical as well. I give this book three thumbs up (which you can do, if you have a cadaver's thumb just lying around.) ...more