Karen's Reviews > There are No Children Here: The Story of Two Boys Growing Up in the Other America

There are No Children Here by Alex Kotlowitz
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's review
Apr 18, 2012

really liked it
bookshelves: books-for-esl-teachers

This book read like a Jonathan Kozol book, an extreme compliment given my respect for Kozol himself. I think Kotlowitz's book could definitely change people's perceptions of African American families living in projects. LaJoe has lots of children but all with the same father. While many of her older children have ended up in prison or otherwise unsuccessful, she comes off as a caring, loving mother doing the best that she can. The descriptions of what she does with her government assistance checks are more than reasonable, and her use of layaway to purchase things her children need make her seem financially astute rather than the spendthrifts some people believe welfare recipients to be.

The reason for the 4 star rating rather than 5 is that I really wanted to know more about the author's relationship with the family. How did they meet? How often did they speak? How did Lafayette and Pharoah refer to him and how did they understand his presence in their life? While I know these facts were briefly mentioned in the Reporting Methods section, I found myself wanting a lot more information, especially after reading that one of Kotlowitz's original articles may have actually gotten the family in trouble. As someone "familiar" with the story of the projects, I really wanted to learn more about the relationship between the outsider journalist and his subjects.

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