Monday, August 9, 2010

Recommended Reading: Random Family

A friend passed along Random Family: Love, Drugs, Trouble, and Coming of Age in the Bronx to me. I can't believe I hadn't read it until now. Adrian Nicole LeBlanc, along with the individuals and families she follows, share a shocking, real, gritty, eye-opening, and thorough story. I want to read more of LeBlanc's work.

USA Today: 'Random Family': Intentionally Shocking
Random Family, Leblanc's first book, is a seminal work of journalism, a brand of deep reporting rarely attempted anymore. It's written like a documentary, and LeBlanc makes no judgments about the lives she presents. Political spin, statistical analyses, blame and solutions are absent.
Instead, the author lets Coco, Jessica and assorted characters use their own voices to tell their stories. The reader is a witness. Nothing is glamorized or sanitized, not the rats, roaches, bad parenting or faulty reasoning.
NPR: Random Family

NY Times: In the Other Country
Most often when the lives of the urban poor are chronicled, it's within the confines of a few familiar genres: policy reports, sociological studies, newspaper stories about the impact of welfare reform or drug laws. It is rare to read about those lives as, for instance, family sagas, in which character and temperament and circumstance all jostle for our attention, and detail accretes into textured portraits of individuals. So it is partly, but only partly, the novelty of Adrian Nicole LeBlanc's approach to the subject -- she spent 10 years hanging out with one hard-pressed, loosely defined family in the Bronx while she tracked its fate -- that makes this such an extraordinary book.

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