Inner-City Truths: A Book Review


While attempting to read “Our America” for the fourth time, it was getting to be a bother. I had taken the wrong approach. I took the writings personally. So this time I focused on exactly what the authors were talking about.

In general, “Our America” refers to the people who got caught up in the system. In general, the book brought about truths that are not unknown but not talked about beyond the places it describes.

Written by teenagers LeAlan Jones, who lives around the corner from the Ida B. Wells development, and Lloyd Newman, who lives in Wells, with the help of journalist David Isay, give a vivid description of how lives get damaged by institutionalized living.

The photographs depict a grim and dismal yet real life truth about living conditions. To see children playing in grocery carts and other abstract items is not uncommon. They play in mud, on dirty mattresses or where ever, and they play hard. That’s just not public housing children, that’s all children.

The most touching and sad part about the whole book is when Lloyd Newman’s mother’s death is described by his sister, Sophia. I attended Doolittle East School with Lynn. I didn’t know she had died. I cried when I read how tragic the circumstances were surrounding her death.

The death of Eric Morse, the five-year-old boy that was dropped 14 stories by two other little boys. LeAlan never knowing his father. Chilli, Llyod’s father, and other accounts of a dysfunctional society make this book interestingly readable. For teen-agers, Lloyd and LeAlan did a fantastic job in showing just how much America needs to embrace all of its children.

“Our America” reads, “Regardless of how you ignore the problems, they won’t go away and if you let them fester, sooner than you think they will be in your backyard.”

This book is a must read for all young America. It’s for readers who have never ventured into public housing but wonder what life is like.

It’s for readers who live in the developments but refuse to address the internal problems that have become a way of life. This book is a wake up call to do something because it’s all of our problem, it’s all of “Our America.”

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