I'm glad I perused the Best Non-Fiction Books on Goodreads to find this hidden treasure.
A few weeks ago, I read a really compelling book - Gang Leader for a Day
. In that review, I mentioned that although I didn't learn a whole lot about the children in the projects, I thought the book would be useful for me if I teach low-income children. And then I found this book! It was about a different set of projects in Chicago (this was about the Henry Horner Homes, Gang Leader was about the Robert Taylor Homes) and it focused almost solely on the children who lived there. I learned about their daily struggles as well as more of their big-picture issues. Also, the author wrote in a ton of information about the projects, the Chicago Housing Authority, and the gangs who were around Henry Horner.
The story was very moving. It's obvious that the children have an unimaginably difficult life - they're dealing with their friends getting shot, their father is in and out constantly because of his drug addiction, and there are ten or more people living in their small apartment at one time. The building is in disrepair and they never feel safe even inside their home. It was very, very sad. The author, who is actually a journalist, spoke with one of the teachers at their school who described basically how she runs her class - which I took note of and will do if I get a job in the city.
The only thing that could make this better is if the author released an updated version of it. The book was published in 1991 and I would liketo know what happened to the two boys and the family after the book was published. Obviously the Henry Horner Homes are gone now - I want to know where the family all went. At the time of publication, the author had no idea that the projects were all going away. When I think about it, it breaks my heart.
What a fantastic book. Good work, Alex Kotlowitz. It was worth the drive to Cicero to get this!!!