True Vine: A Young Black Man's Journey Of Faith, Hope And Clarity

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9781586480844: True Vine: A Young Black Man's Journey Of Faith, Hope And Clarity

The true story of an African-American man who found, through faith and the self-assurance it provided, the strength to break free of the cycle of poverty and despair that had once characterized his life. . John W. Fountain grew up on some of the meanest streets in Chicago, where drugs, crime, decay, and broken homes consigned so many black children to a life of despair and self-destruction. A father at seventeen, a college dropout at nineteen, a welfare case soon after, Fountain was on the verge of giving up all hope. One thing saved him--his faith, his own true vine. True Vine is John Fountain's remarkable story--of his childhood in a neighborhood heading south; of his strong-willed grandparents, who founded a church (called True Vine) that sought to bring the word of God to their neighbors; of his mother, herself a teenage parent, whose truncated dreams help nurture bigger dreams in him; of his friends and cousins, whose youthful exuberance was extinguished by the burdens they faced; and of his religious awakening that gave him the determination to rebuild his life. Today John Fountain is an award-winning reporter for The New York Times , based in his hometown. His return to Chicago marks how his story has come full circle, this time in triumph. True Vine is an inspiring, moving, gripping story of one man's American dream--a dream that all of us can share.

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From the Back Cover:

"True Vine is a book about a certain black experience in the USA-John Fountain's life. But it's more. It's a handbook and a guide to what is possible in this country. It says, 'You can do it.' It says there are doors you can open but you have to put your own shoulder to them. This is the kind of book you'd like to place on every desk in every classroom in America. It is a hymn of a book, showing us the necessity of finding ourselves and being true to ourselves. Of all the books written in the last decade about struggle and triumph this is just about the best."-Frank McCourt, author of Angela's Ashes and 'Tis

"True Vine is ripe with astounding irony, full of hope, pain, promise and small miracles. John Fountain is a writer of depth and purpose, who writes as if God were at his desk each morning lifting the pen. The book is more than a story of a young father's climb from the welfare rolls to the top of the journalism heap; it is about a young man who learned to face the rugged streets of life armed only with God's peace and wisdom, formidable weapons indeed. A superb debut."-James McBride, author of The Color of Water and Miracle at St. Anna

"True Vine is an ode to those black men for whom few songs are sung, those who survive poverty, violence and hopelessness while remaining good fathers, good husbands and good sons. John Fountain was saved by his own determination and the balm of his grandmother's healing words, 'You can't stop dreaming or you start to die.' He made it out, 'not without scars and only by faith.' But we are all blessed that he made it and that he has written us this gift, to remind us of what is possible-and of the others we must go back to get."-Patrice Gaines, author of Laughing in the Dark and Moments of Grace

"Sometimes incredible insights on the challenges and harshness of inner-city poverty can be gained from reading about the experiences of remarkable individuals who defy overwhelming odds and escaped to a better life. No account more powerfully demonstrates the soundness of this view than John W. Fountain's moving memoir, True Vine."-William Julius Wilson, Lewis P. and Linda L. Geyser University Professor, Harvard University

"John Fountain's memoir is a tender, moving tribute to the power of family and faith. With an admirable straightforwardness and candor, he brings us into a part of America which, sadly, still remains all-too-distant from the rest of us."-Alex Kotlowitz, author of There Are No Children Here and The Other Side of the River

"In True Vine, John Fountain has given us his personal testimony about growing up as one of America's African American urban poor, and of how the foundations of family and faith intervened to pull him up to extraordinary achievement. Fountain is almost lost in the ubiquitous poverty swirl of adolescent childbearing, welfare dependence, marginal employment and a meager subsistence on society's edge. At a desperate point in Fountain's life, lacking even a vision for himself and his family, an unexpected defining moment kindles within him a gritty resolve, a strength so formidable it eventually brings him to the apex of American journalism. If only Fountain's determination could be bottled and distributed. Read this book!"-Leon Dash, author of Rosa Lee: A Mother and Her Family in Urban America

From the Inside Flap:

John W. Fountain grew up on some of the meanest streets in Chicago, where drugs, crime, decay, and broken homes consigned so many black children to a life of despair and self-destruction. A father at seventeen, a college dropout at nineteen, a welfare case soon after, Fountain was on the verge of giving up all hope. One thing saved him-his faith, his own true vine.

True Vine is John Fountain's remarkable story-of his childhood in a neighborhood heading south; of his strong-willed grandparents, who founded a church (called True Vine) that sought to bring the word of God to their neighbors; of his mother, herself a teenage parent, whose truncated dreams help nurture bigger dreams in him; of his friends and cousins, whose youthful exuberance was extinguished by the burdens they faced; and of his religious awakening that gave him the determination to rebuild his life.

Today John Fountain is an award-winning reporter for The New York Times, based in his hometown. His return to Chicago marks how his story has come full circle, this time in triumph. True Vine is an inspiring, moving, gripping story of one man's American dream-a dream that all of us can share.

John W. Fountain has been a national correspondent for The New York Times, based in Chicago for the last three years. He was previously a reporter for the Chicago Tribune and The Washington Post. He holds bachelor's and master's degrees from the University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana, and he has been a Michigan Journalism Fellow at the University of Michigan. He lives in the south suburbs of Chicago.

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