Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Fire in the Ashes by Jonathan Kozol

Jonathan tells the stories of young men and women who have come of age in one of the most destitute communities of the United States. Some of them never do recover from the battering they undergo in their early years, but many more battle back with fierce and, often, jubilant determination to overcome the formidable obstacles they face. As we watch these glorious children grow into the fullness of a healthy and contributive maturity, they ignite a flame of hope, not only for themselves, but for our society.

The urgent issues that confront our urban schools – a devastating race-gap, a pathological regime of obsessive testing and drilling students for exams instead of giving them the rich curriculum that excites a love of learning – are interwoven through these stories. Why certain children rise above it all, graduate from high school and do well in college, while others are defeated by the time they enter adolescence, lies at the essence of this work.

This was a fascinating account of disfranchised kids living in one of the poorest neighborhoods in the United States. It is a heartbreaking and eye-opening view of the lives that are affected by the lack of care the government provides them.

The author first met most of these children twenty-five years ago, and he begins his accounts at the moment of the first meeting, continuing on until adulthood. He focuses first on the children who weren’t able to succeed, to get past the deficiencies they had to put up with as they grew: horrific government housing, being placed in neighborhoods which are full of violence and drugs, and deplorable schools who sometimes didn’t even have textbooks for all their classes. This book throws a light on all these things that we might otherwise not know about, because it is not necessarily public knowledge. His writing is clear, straight to the point, but full of heart. We can tell how much he cares for these children who he’s followed for twenty-five years.

This is definitely a book to read. Many parts are tough to get through because of the topic. It can be harsh sometimes, thinking of children living in these conditions, but it has to be read. If we don’t know the truth, then there’s no hope of it every changing.  

1 comment:

Uomo di Speranza said...

The sad part is how much people have trouble accepting the truth. And if we can't do that, how do we know anything about the struggles of our fellow humans?