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Informative,
Difficult,
Insightful

3 reviews

Random Family: Love, Drugs, Trouble, and Coming of Age in the Bronx
by Adrian Nicole LeBlanc

Published: 2004-02-10
Paperback : 432 pages
4 members reading this now
7 clubs reading this now
3 members have read this book
Recommended to book clubs by 3 of 3 members
In her extraordinary bestseller, Adrian Nicole LeBlanc immerses readers in the intricacies of the ghetto, revealing the true sagas lurking behind the headlines of gangsta glamour, gold-drenched drug dealers, and street-corner society. Focusing on two romances—Jessica’s dizzying ...
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Introduction

The result of over ten years of immersion reporting, "Random Family" charts atumultuous decade in which girls become mothers, mothers become grandmothers, boys become criminals, and hope struggles against deprivation. In her extraordinary bestseller, Adrian Nicole LeBlanc immerses readers in the intricacies of the ghetto, revealing the true sagas lurking behind the headlines of gangsta glamour, gold-drenched drug dealers, and street-corner society. Focusing on two romances -- Jessica's dizzying infatuation with a hugely successful young heroin dealer, Boy George, and Coco's first love with Jessica's little brother, Cesar -- Random Family is the story of young people trying to outrun their destinies. Jessica and Boy George ride the wild adventure between riches and ruin, while Coco and Cesar stick closer to the street, all four caught in a precarious dance between survival and death. Friends get murdered; the DEA and FBI investigate Boy George; Cesar becomes a fugitive; Jessica and Coco endure homelessness, betrayal, the heartbreaking separation of prison, and, throughout it all, the insidious damage of poverty. Charting the tumultuous cycle of the generations -- as girls become mothers, boys become criminals, and hope struggles against deprivation -- LeBlanc slips behind the cold statistics and sensationalism and comes back with a riveting, haunting, and true story.

Editorial Review

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Excerpt

Chapter One

Jessica lived on Tremont Avenue, on one of the poorer blocks in a very poor section of the Bronx. She dressed even to go to the store. Chance was opportunity in the ghetto, and you had to be prepared for anything. She didn't have much of a wardrobe, but she was resourceful with what she had -- her sister's Lee jeans, her best friend's earrings, her mother's T-shirts and perfume. Her appearance on the streets in her neighborhood usually caused a stir. A sixteen-year-old Puerto Rican girl with bright hazel eyes, a huge, inviting smile, and a voluptuous shape, she radiated intimacy wherever she went. You could be talking to her in the middle of the bustle of Tremont and feel as if lovers' confidences were being exchanged beneath a tent of sheets. Guys in cars offered rides. Grown men got stupid. Women pursed their lips. Boys made promises they could not keep. ... view entire excerpt...

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Member Reviews

Overall rating:
 
 
  "Powerful and Informative"by emconnie (see profile) 07/13/12

 
  "No Easy Answers"by salfor (see profile) 01/29/11

LeBlanc spent ten years in close contact with two extended families in the Bronx and has written a stark documentary about the struggle to overcome poverty and the influences of drugs, gangs, prison and... (read more)

 
  "Really depressing to read, but great to discuss"by jwright (see profile) 01/29/11

This was a slow read and was really depressing. However, it led to a great discussion. The discussion is very likely to get political, so don't pick it if your club can't handle discussing social issues... (read more)

 
  "One of the best books I ever read!"by mondman (see profile) 04/24/08

Reads like fiction- Really eye opening- gives such a vivid picture of the viscous cycle of poverty and welfare- but told through the riveting story of two girls/women who are each incredibly strong in... (read more)

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