Brendan O'connell's Reviews > Common Ground: A Turbulent Decade in the Lives of Three American Families

Common Ground by J. Anthony Lukas
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M 50x66
's review
Nov 29, 2010

it was amazing
Recommended for: Teachers, Students with a high intereset in the subject matter, residents of Boston
Read in September, 2010

As a resident of Boston who has lived or worked in two of the neighborhoods featured in this book, I appreciated the stories of how those neighborhoods have changed - and the forces that changed them. The fascinating stories of the neighborhoods and families, along with Lukas's storytelling choices provided me with a fulfilling experience. Lukas chose a family in each neighborhood and then told the story of that neighborhood through the family's experiences. As the title suggests, Boston's recent history has been turbulent. Lukas seems to tell it all - so it's a long book. But the storytelling is fast-paced and interesting to people who care about the city and its past. I rarely stopped reading until a chapter ended.

I particularly appreciated the sections on the South End and Codman Square in Dorchester. As a former resident of the South End and currently a teacher in Codman Square, it was fascinating for me to read about the two neighborhoods and the struggles their people have experienced in recent decades. It is also fascinating to look at the neighborhoods today and see the results of the history that was made during the years Lukas chronicled.

The cover of the book features a school bus, but the busing controversy is only one part of the turbulence of Boston life. As a teacher, I loved learning the history of that particular controversy, but I was equally interested in the stories about housing, race relations, and the city's politics.

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