Voices from the Streets: Young Former Gang Members Tell Their Stories

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9780316056342: Voices from the Streets: Young Former Gang Members Tell Their Stories
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First-person interviews, photographs, poetry, journal entries, and scrapbooks provide a firsthand look at the lives of former gang members, who describe life in violent, poverty-stricken neighborhoods, why they became involved with gangs, and what led them to seek a better way of life.

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From School Library Journal:

Grade 7 Up?In this revealing book, Atkin shares interviews with former gang members she met, photographed, and interviewed in a two-year odyssey to document why young people join gangs and how they terminate memberships and reenter society's mainstream. Brandy England, a white middle-class teen from Ohio, joined a gang to get her mother's attention. Saroeum Phoung joined the Boston Red Dragons with other Cambodian youths to gain a sense of cultural identity and to stave off racist physical attacks. Elena Rojas, a first-generation Cuban-American living in Miami, wanted to escape physical abuse from a former boyfriend. Patrick is an Irish-Puerto Rican who lives in a Massachusetts town where violence is simply accepted as a way of life. Following the first-person accounts of these four young people, Atkin additionally profiles former gang members and other concerned adults who spend their lives trying to save young people from the destructive effects of gangs. The book is liberally illustrated with the author's stark black-and-white photos. The young people's comments are largely unedited, which means there is plenty of street language in the narratives. Nothing in them offends as much, however, as the horrors of their lives. All have witnessed the violent deaths of friends and family, and many have been forced to cope with dysfunctional parents. An extremely powerful and revealing book that deserves to be read by a much, much wider audience than it is unfortunately likely to receive.?Jerry D. Flack, University of Colorado, Colorado Springs
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Booklist:

Gr. 8^-12. Like Maria Hinojosa (Crews [1995]), Atkin leaves the street language and equally harsh sentiments intact in these first-person testimonies. But Atkin's focus is different, and her overall tone is much more positive: the young people here are rebuilding their lives after leaving a gang. Even so, there's no false comfort in their words as they frankly reveal bits of their personal history, talk about their reasons for joining a gang, and recall what they experienced as a member--the good as well as the bad. They also explain why they quit and what it's like trying to stay out. The mix of young people is excellent--girls as well as boys are here, as old as 20, as young as 13--and as with Voices in the Fields (1993), Atkin does a fine job of keeping the words flowing smoothly. A few poems are included, in the writer's native language and in translation, and the final segment is an insightful interview with father and son mentors, both adults, who reach out to gangbangers. The excellent black-and-white photographs capture the individuals behind the words, making each success all the more real. A good glossary is appended, as is an extensive reading list. In many ways this is a frightening book, but it is also a compelling and inspiring one. Stephanie Zvirin

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