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Random Family: Love, Drugs, Trouble, and…
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Random Family: Love, Drugs, Trouble, and Coming of Age in the Bronx

by Adrian Nicole LeBlanc

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1,1693510,718 (4.28)28
This New York Times bestseller intimately depicts urban life in a gripping book that slips behind cold statistics and sensationalism to reveal the true sagas lurking behind the headlines of gangsta glamour. 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.… (more)
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» See also 28 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 35 (next | show all)
well written, but I'm just not interested in the story and the characters (people). This doesn't fit my criteria for one of the 100 New Classics. ( )
  deldevries | Oct 27, 2017 |
A surprisingly-thrilling and superbly-researched real-life story about a family, struggling to grow, struggling to get by in the roughest parts of New York during the 80s and 90s. ( )
  jasonli | Dec 22, 2016 |
From Publishers Weekly
Politicians rail about welfare queens, crack babies and deadbeat dads, but what do they know about the real struggle it takes to survive being poor? Journalist LeBlanc spent some 10 years researching and interviewing one extended family-mother Lourdes, daughter Jessica, daughter-in-law Coco and all their boyfriends, children and in-laws-from the Bronx to Troy, N.Y., in and out of public housing, emergency rooms, prisons and courtrooms. LeBlanc's close listening produced this extraordinary book, a rare look at the world from the subjects' point of view. Readers learn that prison is just an extension of the neighborhood, a place most men enter and a rare few leave. They learn the realities of welfare: the myriad of misdemeanors that trigger reduction or termination of benefits, only compounding a desperate situation. They see teenaged drug dealers with incredible organizational and financial skills, 13-year-old girls having babies to keep their boyfriends interested, older women reminiscing about the "heavenly time" they spent in a public hospital's psychiatric ward and incarcerated men who find life's first peace and quiet in solitary confinement. More than anything, LeBlanc shows how demanding poverty is. Her prose is plain and unsentimental, blessedly jargon-free, and incluidng street talk only when one of her subjects wants to "conversate." This fine work deserves attention from policy makers and general readers alike. Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc. ( )
  WayCriminalJustice | Apr 8, 2016 |
An incredible portrait of the joint impacts of poverty and the drug war in the US. The author walks a fine line between journalism and voyeurism at times, but the simple act of telling the in-depth stories of these families making ends meet is tremendously confronting and powerful. And, to be honest, a bit dispiriting. ( )
  mjlivi | Feb 2, 2016 |
Heartbreaking and fascinating. How much drug culture pervades some inner cities and affects every aspect of life. I can't believe that these girls have so many kids and so young and so little education to be prepared for anything. It's just sad. But a great read. ( )
  bookwormteri | Mar 23, 2015 |
Showing 1-5 of 35 (next | show all)
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Epigraph
...Some say that Happiness is not Good for mortals & they ought to be answerd that Sorrow is not fit for Immortals & is utterly useless to any one a blight never does good to a tree & if a blight kill not a tree but it still bear fruit let none say that the fruit was in consequence of the blight.
William Blake, letter to William Hayley
London, October 7, 1803
Dedication
For my parents,
Eve Mary Margaret Mazzaferro
and Adrian Leon LeBlanc
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Jessica lived on Tremont Avenue, on one of the poorer blocks in a very poor section of the Bronx.
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