Erin's Reviews > Random Family: Love, Drugs, Trouble, and Coming of Age in the Bronx

Random Family by Adrian Nicole LeBlanc
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Jul 23, 09

it was amazing
bookshelves: all-time-faves
Read in July, 2009

I have been surprised by some of the other reviews I've read about this book commenting that they cannot believe these people make the same mistakes over and over again. While what, to you, may seem like a mistake, is in fact the only way known to the people in this book, and they face circumstances that facilitate the lifestyles they have and don't offer many paths out. The best way it was addressed, I feel, in the book was by Cesar:

"Mercedes’s predicament extended beyond personal history or family or attitude or teenage parenting. ‘Poverty is a subculture that exists within the ghetto,’ he said. ‘It goes beyond black or Hispanic, at least in my mind. Overworked teachers. Run-down schools. It looks like they designed this system to make our children fail. Socio-economic conditions. Why are we so passive? We accept conditions that don’t benefit us – economic oppression we’ve been suffering for years. That’s the primary condition."

I finished it in 2 days, because I honestly could not stop reading it. It is one of the most realistic, unbiased views of generational poverty that I have ever read. I loved it. The way the author chooses to weave the stories of Boy George, Jessica, Coco and Cesar together was completely engrossing and unbelievably eye-opening. It shocked me, depressed me, and overall reminded me that people do not necessarily choose the lives they have, and even when they want to, there are so many forces working against them and stopping their agency that their ability to overcome is one of the biggest challenges.

More than anything, this book made me question what would need to happen in this country to solve the problems raised within these peoples lives. I don't even know where to begin - institutionally, socially, economically, even down to the value placed on jewelry and material goods as status. I don't know how you create a shift in the public consciousness to create an understanding, nor how you confront so many interwoven issues. I do think, however, that reading this book with the sensitivity to understand its characters and not dismiss them is a start.

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Reading Progress

07/21 page 49
11.34%
07/21 page 188
43.52% "basically just wanna stay up all night and finish this."
04/11 marked as: read

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