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There Are No Children Here: The Story of Two Boys Growing Up in the Other America (1991)

af Alex Kotlowitz

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1,4762012,159 (4.14)41
This is the moving and powerful account of twonbsp;nbsp;remarkable boys struggling to survive in Chicago'snbsp;nbsp;Henry Horner Homes, a public housing complexnbsp;nbsp;disfigured by crime and neglect.
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On a snowy Thursday, March 2, Craig Davis was on his way to a friend’s house to pick up two turntables and speakers for a dance the following evening at which he was going to DJ.

On the way he was spotted with some friends and pursued by a policeman and an agent of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms. The Treasury Dept. official, Richard Marianos, caught up to Davis and held his revolver close to Davis skull when Davis struggled to escape.

The revolver fired into the back of Davis’s skull. The bullet fragmented through both hemispheres of the brain. Davis died shortly after receiving emergency care at Mount Sinai Hospital, where Davis had been born.

Now so far in this story I have left out four key facts as recounted in Alex Kotlowitz’ remarkable story “There Are No Children Here: The Story of Two Boys growing Up in the Other America.”

Davis was black. This took place in the mean streets of Chicago. It happened in 1989. And to this day, I believe, nobody has taken responsibility for Davis’ death, an event we would barely have heard about. It merited one paragraph in the back pages of a Chicago newspaper.

The reason Kotlowitz chose to highlight the death in his story was for the psychological impact it had on one of the two boys in his story, Lefeyette Rivers.

The conditions under which these children lived in a Chicago public housing project were quite plainly, horrifying. It was as evil and gross as any description of poverty including the New York classic, “How the other Half Lives,” by journalist Jacob Riis back in the 19th century.

It was also before the notorious Rodney King riots in Los Angeles in 1991, and long before the riots in Ferguson, Missouri, and the demonstrations we experience today in the wake of the police killing of George Floyd.

There is no better time to memorialize the fallen, and no better time than the present to excoriate society for so heinously forgetting that Black Lives Matter. ( )
  MylesKesten | Jan 23, 2024 |
Would be unfair for me to evaluate this book... It was written well and probably is good but I just don't get in to human interest stories like this. I of course felt bad for the family's situation but it was written in a way that seemed to want to force the reader to feel bad. Not just a story of poverty but gritty harsh poverty.. Read it and make sure you weep, the author seems to be saying. ( )
  marshapetry | Oct 16, 2020 |
The author spends 1987 - 1989 interviewing two brothers, Layfayette and Pharoah Rivers, who grow up in Henry Horner, a housing project on the west side of Chicago. They are two of eight children, the father has mostly checked out and the mother has done her best to hold down some jobs, but mainly supports her family (and interlopers) via government assistance. Henry Horner is decrepit, gunfire is a regular occurrence, and the lure of joining a gang or selling drugs is hard for many impoverished kids to pass up. ( )
  KatherineGregg | May 29, 2020 |
First, this is a beautifully written book. There is a compassion that flows through the narrative while never once being afraid to tell the bad along with the good of its characters. Fiction writers would kill to be so compelling, but this is nonfiction. Secondly, it struck me that this could easily have been the story of a family trying to make ends meet in some American frontier town but caught amidst the crime and lawlessness of the old west. But this is not about old time Deadwood or Tombstone. This is about modern day Chicago. The book ends with some small degree of optimism, but it appears the degradation of life that this story covers has lived long afterwards. Some good news was that Oprah Winfrey made a TV movie from this book, and that the author helped significantly in the lives of the family members after finishing the book. The bad and very sad news is that the actor, who played Lafeyette in the movie, was later fatally shot at a West Side Chicago gas station, much like could have happened to the real Lafeyette. Even more sad is that Pharoah, perhaps the most sympathetic character in the book, even after making it out of the Chicago jungle into college, was sentenced in June of this year to 45 months in prison for his part in a heroin-delivery case. But then, anyone who has read this book would already realize how very very hard it would be for someone in that environment to break free. Highly recommended reading. ( )
  larryerick | Apr 26, 2018 |
Powerful story - reminding us that America is not really interested in caring for our children. ( )
  KyCharlie | Apr 3, 2017 |
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This is the moving and powerful account of twonbsp;nbsp;remarkable boys struggling to survive in Chicago'snbsp;nbsp;Henry Horner Homes, a public housing complexnbsp;nbsp;disfigured by crime and neglect.

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