Live To See the Day: Coming of Age in American Poverty

Metropolitan: Holt. Aug. 2023. 352p. ISBN 9781250850065. $29.99. SOC SCI
Policymaker and sociologist Goyal’s (Schools on Trial) book is a grim but empathetic account of what deep poverty does to children and adults. The author digs deep into the coming-of age stories of three Puerto Rican boys: Ryan, Giancarlos, and Emmanuel, each navigating their way around Kensington, one of the poorest neighborhoods in Philadelphia, the country’s poorest big city. Young people in Kensington have low odds of making it to their 18th birthdays. Faced with the wide availability of drugs, violence on the streets and at home, unstable living arrangements, and the near total absence of role models, the three boys eventually drop out of school and search for a stable and crime-free existence. Augmenting their stories are those of the boys’ mothers, friends, teachers, and Ryan’s and Giancarlos’s pregnant girlfriends. Emmanuel, who is queer, is rejected and kicked out by his mother, forcing him to sleep at shelters. Eventually, all three boys enroll in an alternative school, which leads to improved chances of survival and opportunities. This book will likely make readers better understand the depths of poverty.
VERDICT For non-academic audiences curious about and empathetic toward the deeply personal consequences of entrenched poverty.
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