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All God's Children?

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message 1: by Corinne (last edited Jan 18, 2008 10:18PM) (new)

Corinne (kuhrin) All God's Children: Inside the Dark and Violent World of Street Families (Hardcover)

I picked this up recently. Has anyone read it? I'm somewhat embarrassed that I remember so little of the events in the book.

I have some issues with the tone and intent of the book, but I'll hold those thoughts to see if other folks read it.

(Btw, I did post to damnportlanders about it, but it didn't get much traction.)

message 2: by Karen (new)

Karen | 14 comments Hi Corinne,

Yes, I read it and I thought it was incredible. The author has received death threats because of the book and I was at a reading that became out of control and I was actually worried for her. A young man who told me he was on the streets for a long time, said that she did an accurate job of telling it like it is.

What issues did you have with the book? I think it's a great book to discuss.

message 3: by Corinne (new)

Corinne (kuhrin) Some main points: she spends a lot of time talking about how the kids who tend to be the most violent (as opposed to just talking about it) are the "housies" - the kids who aren't really homeless by necessity but by choice. She doesn't really go into why that is, so the tone of her exposition is like, "why would anyone choose this? how could this happen?" (One of the girls involved in the murder was on the streets for less than a month, had been an honors student and active member of the debate team, and was generally an upper-middle-class brat from a 'good' family.)

It seems to be fairly logical that the kids who jeopardize the street families safety (by actually being violent) are the ones who don't need the structure. Right? Like, why not mug some random dude coming out of Magic Gardens if it doesn't matter if the cops start paying attention to the squats? If you can just go home there isn't a need to stay in the shadows. If you can afford to call your folks and get a lawyer, getting arrested isn't that scary.

So, that was one thing. The other is how much she talks about the pagan/wicca/anarchism themes of street culture. She makes it seem like these kids don't know a thing about it and are just playacting. I don't doubt that's true, but I don't think it's limited to those arenas. I think *most* young teens read about something new and think they're experts. It's part of what being an annoying teenager is about. Do you get what I'm saying?

And then she kind of draws this line about how there are too many service centers for street kids. She never explicitly says it, but you definitely get the feeling the shelter workers are helping these kids feel invincible and somewhat cared for. Denfeld doesn't suggest an alternative, she just kind of slams the shelter folks for being so available.

She's also really hard on the media, which is strange because she was a reporter covering these kids for a decade. I think it would have been interesting, in the introduction, if she had taken some responsibility for her own perpetuation of street culture. Most of her book is about personal responsibility, so it struck me as a glaring omission. But, of course, I tend to get riled up about journalists who point out the flaws of everyone around them and blame their editors for the assignment.

Did any of those things bug you? Overall, it was a fascinating book, and I don't doubt she's put her safety on the line to publish it.

Also, in the main family of the book, dude was making his kids pay $10/day to sleep in his SQUAT! that's such an outlandish amount of money, it really caught me off guard. Why would anyone pay $70/week (or almost $300/month!) to sleep on the ground? Is that number real?

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