“There Are No Children Here: The Story of Two Boys Growing Up in the Other America” by Alex Kotlowitz was sad because it took place almost 30 years ago but can be used to describe any number of American cities today.
Synopsis: Kotlowitz’s biography of the Rivers brothers, Lafeyette and Pharoah, and their family living in the Henry Horner Homes, a public housing project, in Chicago. Along with their six siblings of varying ages, the children deal with deplorable living conditions in a poorly managed city building, a community trying to survive gang violence, and drug selling on every street corner. The two boys also watch their father drift in and out of their apartment, struggling with drug addiction and alcoholism. Both boys are average children who want to play outside with friends, please their parents, and be good students, but their environment makes it difficult for them to maintain their innocence.
This book was a great example of long-form journalism. The author spent three years conducting interviews, visiting the family, speaking to–or at least reaching out to–politicians, and more. He even set up a foundation for the children in this family that used the book sale proceeds to assist with private school tuition.
I read “What Happened To You?” by Oprah Winfrey and Dr. Bruce Perry last month, and they mention “There Are No Children Here.” It’s saddening to read about children living in such dangerous environments that grow up with PTSD similar to war veterans.
The housing complex was demolished in the aughts, but the lingering psychological effects still remain. If you ever read the book “Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City” by Matthew Desmond, you’ll enjoy the story-telling of “There Are No Children Here.”
No rating. The importance of the story is too crucial, in my opinion.