Coles, Robert & Testa, Randy, with Michael Coles, eds. Growing up poor; a literary anthology.

Author:Chrismer, Nancy
Position:Book Review - Young Adult Review - Brief Article

Norton, The New Press. 279p. c2001. 1-56584-744-X. $16.95. SA *

For anyone interested in reading about real America, this book offers glimpses of what life is like at the low end of the economic spectrum. Though most of the excerpts are fictional, they are fiction based strongly in the reality of life for America's poorest citizens, and they ring as true as the biographical writings. From young to old, these voices illuminate the shadowy lives of our most marginal citizens, and show to readers pictures that are disturbing to anyone with a heart.

Through prose and poetry, we see through the eyes of poor Hispanic children living in rough places and rural Appalachian children whose lives are just as tough, and hear black voices who show us not only poverty but ignorance, prejudice, and injustice. We hear from adults who have triumphed over many obstacles to become successful adults; we also hear from and about those who have been overcome by the obstacles, and defeated by the injustices that society heaps on the poor. We are saddened by the young voices who express much despair and little hope and by the older voices who look back on troubled lives filled with unsuccessful attempts to overcome the stigma of being poor. We read about the unheard...

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