Through extensive research, Alex Kotlowitz brings us this classic rendering of growing up in the ''jects,'' selected by the New York Public Library as one of the 150 most important books of the twentieth century.
This national best-seller chronicles the true story of two brothers coming of age in the Henry Horner public housing project in Chicago over a two-year period. Lafeyette and Pharoah Rivers are eleven and nine years old when the story begins in the summer of 1987. Living with their mother and six siblings, they struggle to survive gun battles, gang influences, overzealous police officers, and overburdened and mismanaged bureaucracies.
There Are No Children Here, the true story of brothers Lafeyette and Pharoah Rivers, ages 11 and 9 at the start, brings home the horror of trying to make it in a violence-ridden public housing project. The boys live in a gang-plagued war zone on Chicago's West Side, literally learning how to dodge bullets the way kids in the suburbs learn to chase baseballs. "If I grow up, I'd like to be a bus driver," says Lafeyette at one point. That's if, not when--spoken with the complete innocence of a child. The book's title comes from a comment made by the brothers' mother as she and author Alex Kotlowitz contemplate the challenges of living in such a hostile environment: "There are no children here," she says. "They've seen too much to be children." This book humanizes the problem of inner-city pathology, makes readers care about Lafeyette and Pharoah more than they may expect to, and offers a sliver of hope buried deep within a world of chaos.