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When a Heart Turns Rock Solid: The Lives of Three Puerto Rican Brothers On and Off the Streets
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When a Heart Turns Rock Solid: The Lives of Three Puerto Rican Brothers On and Off the Streets

4.07  ·  Rating details ·  91 Ratings  ·  16 Reviews

This provocative and compelling book examines how jobs, schools, the streets, and prisons have shaped the lives and choices of a generation of Puerto Rican youth at the turn of the twenty-first century.

At the center of this riveting account–based on an unprecedented eighteen-year study–are three engaging, streetwise brothers from Spri
Hardcover, 464 pages
Published August 4th 2009 by Pantheon (first published January 1st 2009)
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Jan 29, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I read this book because it was written by one of my professor’s doctoral students able Springfield Mass, a city I live very close to. Tim Black collected information for this book over eighteen years, which is almost unheard of in social ethnographies. The focus is on the lives of three Puerto Rican brother’s growing up in Springfield, but Black does a great job of showing how their lives were shaped as much by history as by themselves. Very well written and extremely well researched, this is a ...more
Rebecca Thatcher-Murcia
Timothy Block's door stop of a tome was absolutely fascinating. Congratulations to him for sticking to this project over the years and turning in a manscript that is informative and very readable. I think at some time there needs to be a truth and reconciliation commission that really digs into the harm that colonialism has done to the people of Puerto Rico. I also highly recommend War Against All Puerto Ricans: Revolution and Terror in America’s Colony which alongside Tim's book does a lot to t ...more
Dec 13, 2009 rated it did not like it
I was really looking forward to this book, spent a long time on the hold list for it at the library, and therefore feel extra disappointed that I'm giving it up. I think you have to be as immersed and devoted to racial and classist social issues as the author (an academic) is if you want to make it through the book. The sections that actually profile the lives of the main characters are regularly interrupted by extended diatribes on the inequities embedded in American society. My eyes were rolli ...more
Apr 04, 2012 rated it really liked it
I really enjoyed this book. It's a window into the lives of three Puerto Rican brothers, opening during their teenage years. This author gives us a raw glimpse into their struggles with love, drugs, and violence in a sociological study that spans nearly two decades. One of the brothers, Sammy, does a line of coke in his 6th grade classroom, older brother Fausto watched another inmate eviscerate another with his bare hands, and the eldest Julio, is the glue that holds this dysfunctional family to ...more
Jul 13, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The Full Title of the Book is "When a Heart Turns Rock Solid: A Lives of Three Puerto Rican Brothers On and Off the Street."

As a person who has always been interesting in sociology and the analysis involved, I was fascinated by the way Timothy Black, a professional in the field analyzed the material. As person who has grown up in one the areas he discusses in-depth, it was exciting to relate to some much of the information and analysis that was provided and at the same time come a way with such
Robert Hironimus-Wendt
Jun 24, 2010 rated it really liked it
"When A Heart Turns Rock Solid" is a powerful and moving ethnography. Black's book belongs on the same shelf as MacLeod's "Ain't No Makin' It," Kozol's "Amazing Grace," and Kotlowitz's "There Are No Children Here." The only difference is that in this case, the children grow up, and are consumed by the streets in full view.

This is the "rest of the story" that is missing from most ethnographies of urban misery. Here, we watch as three brothers simply lose. The significance of this book is that Bl
Oct 06, 2009 rated it liked it
Shelves: biography, sociology
This book is a blend of non-fiction and sociology. Dr. Timothy Black, a professor, spent many years with three Puerto Rican brothers and their extended family and friends. He tells their stories and includes a sociological background and context that helps the reader understand the forces that shaped the lives of these men.

The stories and information are comprehensive, but overall the book seemed dry and lacked ease and flow. I have read similar books such as American Dream by Jason DeParle and
Jul 25, 2011 rated it liked it
I mainly read this because the men that the author chose to study come from my hometown and I wanted to see how that would be portrayed. The book turned out to be a decent social commentary regarding three Puerto Rican brothers growing up and strugling to get their lives on track. It definitely made me think about how having all these barriers in your life can keep you down sometimes no matter how hard you try. I would have rated this book a bit higher had the author not gone off on tangents dis ...more
May 05, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The first book in a while where I really feel like I learned something. Not only did I get a tour through the lives of these brothers as they struggle to find a place to fit in both in Puerto Rico and the US but I also learned about drug addiction, poverty, education, and prison. Timothy Black does an amazing job of not just taking you through the steps of these brother's lives but he expains historically and politically what was going on during this period of 20+ years.
Dec 14, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A dense, interesting read - this book follows three Puerto Rican brothers in Springfield in a unique ethnographic study. Black is a good writer and deftly weaves his anecdotl information with more harder-hitting economic data, to create a detailed, honest picture of life for Hispanic men
In Springfield from the 1990s on. I would consider this a must-read for anyone who is working in an urban area.
Annie Oosterwyk
Dec 29, 2009 rated it liked it
This book reveals the connection between colonialism, capitalism, racism, cultural beliefs and poverty in a Puerto Rican family. The three brothers grow up with the odds stacked against them in a poor neighborhood where selling drugs is an attractive option- sometimes the only option. Tim Black does a good job of showing how this is not a personal choice, but a societal failure.
Apr 02, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is such an amazing read. An in depth look into the inequities of our society and how people of color and different cultures manage (or not). This book will change the way you look at those who do not have the advantages of guaranteed shelter, food, education, language, status and respect in our society. I know this book will change the way I deal with people forever
I hope to come back to this book someday, but for now it just failed to hold my attention. The writing is good, but it's just too much right now.
Apr 13, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
How American political economy fuck people's life up.
Jul 10, 2012 rated it liked it
Very thought-provoking.
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