Children of the State: Stories of Survival and Hope in the Juvenile Justice System

S. & S. Audio. Jan. 2023. 12:42 hrs. ISBN 9781797149196. $24.99. SOC SCI
Hobbs (The Short and Tragic Life of Robert Peace) examines the overwhelming scale of the modern juvenile justice system and the stories of individuals impacted by it. The audio effectively employs an ensemble of narrators, reinforcing the perception of each section as a unique piece of a vast puzzle. Landon Woodson narrates the first section, the story of Josiah Wright, a resident of a youth detention center in Wilmington, DE. Woodson precisely captures the tones of a group of boys posturing as tough, while yearning for understanding. Aven Shore brings gentleness mixed with exhaustion to the second section, featuring the teachers and principal of the Woodside Learning Center in San Francisco. Though the research was conducted amid the 2020 COVID lockdowns, the strain of teaching incarcerated youth is especially evident here. Andre Bellido picks up the baton with measured dispassion in the final section, which describes the struggles of Ian Alvaro to adapt to the crisis intervention program in New York City that’s keeping him out of youth detention. George Newbern’s steady timbre provides bookends in the author’s note and epilogue.
VERDICT An affecting listen, recommended for readers of Bryan Stevenson’s Just Mercy.
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