There Are No Children Here. Alex Kotlowitz.
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The 1st thing you notice about this book is that it is very different from the others that we have read in class… it is actually an easy read. It is not written for academics. -There are no citations and no emphasis on specific details -Kotlowitz does not attempt to back up his findings with hard data and statistics
It is closest in resemblance to an observational study, however, the author never explicitly says how he collects his data (interviews, direct observation) all he says is that the book follows Lafeyette and Pharaoh, two brothers, over a 2 year period. -If it were written for academic consumption there would be a few problems…
1-The author employs many tactics to invoke emotions. He uses poetic language and imagery to make people feel for the kids in the story (pg.45)
2-The sources of his information would be called into question. If he is using LaJoe’s and the kids’ accounts of what was happening, self-report bias would come into question. Are they telling the actual truth or did they embellish for effect?
3- This book seems more like a crusade than a study. The author went into his observations knowing what he wanted to get across to readers, he says so in the preface. He decided what he wanted to write about after he wrote a small piece on the boys to accompany a friend’s photograph. He also became friends with the boys. Thus, he was not an impartial observer. (pg. x)
This book does a very good job of providing a human element to all of the facts that we have been hearing about in class so far. This book is an excellent compliment to the academic texts that we have been reading so far because it deals with many of the same issues in a new way.Examples:-social disorganization: pg.13-public housing quality: pg. 22
The book also deals with:-violence/gangs-the welfare issue-overcrowding -the lack of good examples for kids-teenage pregnancy/simple mothers-the quality of schools and drop out ratesIt is interesting to note that Kotlowitz discusses things that fall into the culture of poverty argument, without giving a structural argument to counter-balance. If it was not for previous readings, which took on “culture of poverty” arguments, I might have seen these to be cultural rather than structural problems. This was particularly true of the “family unit” descriptions.
This book was also made into a movie starring Oprah Winfrey and Maya Angelou. Rather than being a story about the boys, Hollywood turned it into, “the dramatic story of one woman's battle against the forces of crime. LaJoe Rivers attempts to protect her two sons from a life of crime on the streets of Chicago.
Tonight at 11pm, CBS will be airing “Living in Bay View”, which will explore the lives of children and their families in a very violent environment.