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Amazing Grace: The Lives of Children and the Conscience of a Nation

by Jonathan Kozol

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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1,2981115,101 (4.23)9
Amazing Grace is a book about the hearts of children who grow up in the South Bronx - the poorest congressional district of our nation. Without rhetoric, but drawing extensively upon the words of children, parents, and priests, this book does not romanticize or soften the effects of violence and sickness. One fourth of the child-bearing women in the neighborhoods where these children live test positive for HIV. Pediatric AIDS, life-consuming fires, and gang rivalries take a high toll. Several children die during the year in which this narrative takes place. Although it is a gently written work, Amazing Grace makes clear that the postmodern ghetto of America is not a social accident but is created and sustained by greed, neglect, racism, and expedience. It asks us questions that are, at once, political and theological. What is the value of a child's life? What exactly do we plan to do with those whom we appear to have defined as economically and humanly superfluous? How tough do we dare to be?… (more)
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    Cry, the Beloved Country by Alan Paton (kristenl)
    kristenl: Both books depict societies with gross inequities.
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» See also 9 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 11 (next | show all)
The children in this book defy the stereotypes of urban youth too frequently presented by the media. Tender, generous and often religiously devout, they speak with eloquence and honesty about the poverty and racial isolation that have wounded but not hardened them.
The book does not romanticize or soften the effects of violence and sickness. One fourth of the child-bearing women in the neighborhoods where these children live test positive for HIV. Pediatric AIDs, life-consuming fires and gang rivalries take a high toll. Several children die during the year in which this narrative takes place.

A gently written work, Amazing Grace asks questions that are at once political and theological. What is the value of a child's life? What exactly do we plan to do with those whom we appear to have defined as economically and humanly superfluous? How cold -- how cruel, how tough -- do we dare be?
  StFrancisofAssisi | Nov 10, 2023 |
It is hard to find words to express what I think about this novel. The content is not ground breaking. It is the experience of the ghetto through the eyes of a middle class white man. The experiences in this book may not seem special to those millions who experience it every day. However, for the people who live sheltered like me, this book is a powerful instrument for exposing the profound evil, the genocide perpetrated by this nation against its own people every single day. ( )
  robinmusubi | Jun 5, 2020 |
This book should be a must-read for everyone if things are to change. The author writes movingly and powerfully about the children and their mothers of one of the poorest places in the US, Mott Haven in the Bronx of New York. The events are disturbing and the children's voices and observations are unforgettable. How can this happen? The people with enough money to help change things don't. The people with enough courage try. This book was published in 1995, but I'd guess that nothing much has changed in those areas.

Now we have drugs everywhere, but it's nothing new to the Bronx. The mothers and children living there don't have the basics, and yet we as a nation allow this to continue. All of us need to educate our children differently so that these problems can be solved and the use of drugs and violence disappears. Is this possible? Of course it is, but it may take generations and we need to begin now. In the meantime, we somehow need to embrace the poorest in our nation and help them. It doesn't always involve money; sometimes an attitude is all important. ( )
  Rascalstar | Nov 30, 2017 |
The lives of children and the conscience of a nation
  jhawn | Jul 31, 2017 |
I think this book would have had much more of an impact if I'd read it back in 1995 when it was first published. The cold sad truth is that these stories are now all-too-familiar in many impoverished neighborhoods around our nation including in my own city of Birmingham, Alabama. Although I have not studied the statistics, my gut tells me that the income gap between the poorest poor and the richest rich in New York City has widened substantially since this book was written. The New York Times, however, reported just this year about the number of middle class professionals, many of them white, moving into the neighborhoods described in Jonathan Kozol's book. Apparently the attraction is affordable real estate, an increasingly safe neighborhood where major crime has plummeted over the past 20 years, and a reasonable commute to jobs in Manhatten. I'm pleased to hear that the reputation of the neighborhood is changing for what appears to be the better but I would be very interested in a follow up book on the children highlighted in "Amazing Grace." Where are they today and have those precious children benefited from the enhancements and improvements in their neighborhood? My prayers may have already been answered as Kozol's newest book, Fire in the Ashes, which was published in August 2012 does just that. ( )
  kellifrobinson | Nov 25, 2014 |
Showing 1-5 of 11 (next | show all)
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Jonathan Kozolprimary authorall editionscalculated
Hill, DickNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Epigraph
And I saw a new heaven and new
earth, for the first heaven
and the first earth were passed
away. . . . And I heard a great voice
out of heaven saying, Behold . . . ,
I make all things new.
--Revelation, 21
Dedication
This book is dedicated to the
children of Beekman Avenue and
St. Ann's Avenue in the South Bronx

and to Celeste, with every blessing
First words
The Number 6 train from Manhattan to the South Bronx makes nine stops in the 18-minute ride between East 59th Street and Brook Avenue.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Amazing Grace is a book about the hearts of children who grow up in the South Bronx - the poorest congressional district of our nation. Without rhetoric, but drawing extensively upon the words of children, parents, and priests, this book does not romanticize or soften the effects of violence and sickness. One fourth of the child-bearing women in the neighborhoods where these children live test positive for HIV. Pediatric AIDS, life-consuming fires, and gang rivalries take a high toll. Several children die during the year in which this narrative takes place. Although it is a gently written work, Amazing Grace makes clear that the postmodern ghetto of America is not a social accident but is created and sustained by greed, neglect, racism, and expedience. It asks us questions that are, at once, political and theological. What is the value of a child's life? What exactly do we plan to do with those whom we appear to have defined as economically and humanly superfluous? How tough do we dare to be?

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