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Rachel and Her Children: Homeless Families in America

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The story that jolted the conscience of the nation when it first appeared in The New Yorker Jonathan Kozol is one of America’s most forceful and eloquent observers of the intersection of race, poverty, and education. His books, from the National Book Award–winning Death at an Early Age to his most recent, the critically acclaimed Shame of the Nation, are touchstones of the The story that jolted the conscience of the nation when it first appeared in The New Yorker Jonathan Kozol is one of America’s most forceful and eloquent observers of the intersection of race, poverty, and education. His books, from the National Book Award–winning Death at an Early Age to his most recent, the critically acclaimed Shame of the Nation, are touchstones of the national conscience. First published in 1988 and based on the months the author spent among America’s homeless, Rachel and Her Children is an unforgettable record of the desperate voices of men, women, and especially children caught up in a nightmarish situation that tears at the hearts of readers. With record numbers of homeless children and adults flooding the nation’s shelters, Rachel and Her Children offers a look at homelessness that resonates even louder today.


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The story that jolted the conscience of the nation when it first appeared in The New Yorker Jonathan Kozol is one of America’s most forceful and eloquent observers of the intersection of race, poverty, and education. His books, from the National Book Award–winning Death at an Early Age to his most recent, the critically acclaimed Shame of the Nation, are touchstones of the The story that jolted the conscience of the nation when it first appeared in The New Yorker Jonathan Kozol is one of America’s most forceful and eloquent observers of the intersection of race, poverty, and education. His books, from the National Book Award–winning Death at an Early Age to his most recent, the critically acclaimed Shame of the Nation, are touchstones of the national conscience. First published in 1988 and based on the months the author spent among America’s homeless, Rachel and Her Children is an unforgettable record of the desperate voices of men, women, and especially children caught up in a nightmarish situation that tears at the hearts of readers. With record numbers of homeless children and adults flooding the nation’s shelters, Rachel and Her Children offers a look at homelessness that resonates even louder today.

30 review for Rachel and Her Children: Homeless Families in America

  1. 5 out of 5

    Angel

    I was reading this when I was attending the National Writing Project. Here is what I wrote in my journal back then: >>It was one of the most infuriating and outrageous books I have read. Kozol is very able to illuminate how humanity can allow humanity to suffer through indifference and lack of compassion. The stories of homeless children simply wrench your heart as the reader is angered by the way in which the government bureaucracy simply allows people to live in subhuman conditions. Kozol shatte I was reading this when I was attending the National Writing Project. Here is what I wrote in my journal back then: >>It was one of the most infuriating and outrageous books I have read. Kozol is very able to illuminate how humanity can allow humanity to suffer through indifference and lack of compassion. The stories of homeless children simply wrench your heart as the reader is angered by the way in which the government bureaucracy simply allows people to live in subhuman conditions. Kozol shatters the stereotype of the homeless as bums, people uneducated who have nothing to offer. As it turns out, many of these homeless were well-employed people who were hit by tragedy; loss of job, divorce, illness can all combine to bring any of us to an EAU (Emergency Assistance Unit) in search of a shelter. This is the most scary aspect of Kozol's book, the ease with which any of us can fall into homelessness. However, it does not end there. Kozol provides specific stories of homeless families, of children who are basically allowed to die while the wheels of bureaucracy slowly grind. He also writes of those who profit from human misery and of the overburdened heroes struggling to restore some humanity to those whom the system views mostly as a number-a social security number, a Medicare number, a welfare case number, a bed in a shelter number, a body bound for Potter's Field number. While the book was written in the 80s, all the reader needs to do is watch or read the news to see the situation has not changed. Thus the book is just as relevant today as it was a decade ago. The fact that the situation remains the same serves to validate his assessment that this country does not view homelessness as a crisis but as something to be swept under the rug. Overall, I found the book to be an eye-opener, a necessary piece of reading not just for activists but for each of us.<< I wrote that in my journal a little over ten years ago, and it is scary to see now that the book is still relevant, maybe more so now. Sad however is the fact that no politician in the upcoming 2008 election even seems to have any idea about the issue or even be concerned about it. I have gone on to read and enjoy Kozol's other books. Infuriating at times, yes, but worth reading.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Eric

    My wife suggested I read this book to balance some of my reading of Ayn Rand and Ron Paul and other free market proponents and constitutionalists. I am a strong believer in individualism and generally speaking, philosphy or policy based in collectivist reasoning does not resonate with me. Having said that, on to my review... first, I thought the title was a little misleading. I thought this book was all about the story of Rachel and Her Children. While Kozol documents his dialogues with her, the My wife suggested I read this book to balance some of my reading of Ayn Rand and Ron Paul and other free market proponents and constitutionalists. I am a strong believer in individualism and generally speaking, philosphy or policy based in collectivist reasoning does not resonate with me. Having said that, on to my review... first, I thought the title was a little misleading. I thought this book was all about the story of Rachel and Her Children. While Kozol documents his dialogues with her, the book is not centered on this family. The book gives many different homeless people and families a voice to be heard. Kozol used the book to document their words and their feelings on their situation and place in society. Whether the opinions of the homeless are right or not is up to the reader to judge although the author strongly supports them. Kozol states, "the purpose of this book is to attest to their existence [sad realities of homeless life:], to give witness to the toll they take upon the children of the dispossessed, and to pay tribute to the dignity, the courage, and the strength with which so many parents manage to hold up beneath the truly terrifying problems they confront." The author succeeds in doing this very well. However, he inevitably oversteps his own stated purpose of the book by 1) vilifying all levels of govt and society in general throughout the book (actually calling them "terrorists" at one point) and 2) recommending numerous collectivist solutions to solve the problem of homelessness mostly in the form of bigger government. Kozol undermines his own case though because he has a blatant double standard. He makes considerable effort passing judgement and shaming the collective govt and public for their behavior but he NEVER considered addressing the individual behavior (within their control) that led many of the homeless to their current state of affairs. His double standard weakens the subjective parts of the book, i.e. his own opinions. I think this book, in part, did for me what my wife was hoping it would do; evoke sympathy and elicit compassion for those homeless individuals that are worthy of it (not all are in my opinion). In the end however, I feel like this book is a monument to the failure of collectivism and actually bolsters the philosphy of individualism. He actually says on p 183, "we have failed." Well of course "we" have failed. Human history has proven in extraordinary detail that collectivist philosphy always fails in the end. The answer lies in individuals.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Liz

    Excellent excellent excellent. Compelling. Eye opening. Disheartening. Even though it was written in the 80s, the facts remain true (if not worse) today. When will it end? I would HIGHLY recommend this book to anyone struggling to understand homelessness or wanting to understand the struggles of homeless families!!

  4. 5 out of 5

    Geoffrey Bateman

    Re-reading this book for a class I'm teaching this fall, and I just have to say how relevant and important this book remains, despite it being written in the mid-1980s and published in 1988. It's sad to think that as a country we have yet to really address homelessness on a systemic and structural level, and it's tragic that we seem to have to continue to learn the lessons of this book anew. But as long as we continue to need to educate people on the realities of homelessness and cultivate a muc Re-reading this book for a class I'm teaching this fall, and I just have to say how relevant and important this book remains, despite it being written in the mid-1980s and published in 1988. It's sad to think that as a country we have yet to really address homelessness on a systemic and structural level, and it's tragic that we seem to have to continue to learn the lessons of this book anew. But as long as we continue to need to educate people on the realities of homelessness and cultivate a much deeper understanding of it and the people who experience it, I fear this book will continue to be relevant. As a teaching tool, it works especially well to help students see the invisible realities that parents and children face when experiencing homelessness or living in poverty.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Peacegal

    3.5 stars -- RACHEL AND HER CHILDREN is a look at the bleak prospects for families living in “long-term residence” hotels, particularly in the New York City of the 1980s. The irresponsibility and outright cruelty of state and federal-level politicians is examined, as well as ways in which the bizarre behavior of various agencies and charities help keep these individuals in dire straits. There is a lot of talk of the future in this book, a lot of questioning whether future generations will be pri 3.5 stars -- RACHEL AND HER CHILDREN is a look at the bleak prospects for families living in “long-term residence” hotels, particularly in the New York City of the 1980s. The irresponsibility and outright cruelty of state and federal-level politicians is examined, as well as ways in which the bizarre behavior of various agencies and charities help keep these individuals in dire straits. There is a lot of talk of the future in this book, a lot of questioning whether future generations will be prideful of the 1980s’cold and cruel way of dealing with others and focus only upon personal wealth and success. A section is even titled, “Looking ahead to the year 2000.” Well, writing from “the future,” I doubt the authors would be very pleased. While I imagine many of the individual “fleabag hotels” profiled in this book long ago fell to the wrecking ball, tent cities of the homeless along riverbanks and under overpasses are a common sight even in small towns like mine. And with the election of one of NYC’s most infamous symbols of wealth and excess to the Oval Office, America has reaffirmed that coldness and heartlessness is the way we want to define ourselves. In a common yet uninformed analogy, the book offers this quote: ”We have a more efficient system in the US to deal with stray pets,” says New York Congressman Ted Weiss, “than we have for homeless human beings.” Well, of course we do, as domestic animals are completely reliant upon direct human care for their entire lives, and are moreover considered property in the eyes of the law. Adult human beings are autonomous persons. Moreover, in the 1970s and 80s the animal control system primarily functioned to capture and destroy stray animals; adoption rates were low and spay/neuter was still something most pet owners didn’t do. The number of animals both entering shelters and being destroyed was significantly higher than it is today. If homeless shelters took in people, held them for a short period, and then either euthanized or sold them to research, Mr. Weiss, then indeed they would have functioned as efficiently as the animal systems you’re cluelessly comparing them to. The author’s interviews indicate that not all of the residents of the homeless hotels are the addicted and mentally ill, as many would assume. There are families headed by college graduates; people who until recently held full-time jobs. Then a catastrophic event, such as a health emergency, a natural disaster, or job loss completely wiped out everything they owned. It could happen to anyone. I noted that most of the couples in this situation had multiple young children. For me personally, that’s yet another reason to choose childfree: In the event of a catastrophic loss, the constant financial demands of dependent children, as well as the need for childcare, will keep pulling your head underwater and make it extremely difficult to save even a little money or find steady employment. Some interviewees even had babies born after losing their homes and finances. This isn’t terribly surprising, as those who cannot even secure reliable meals aren’t going to have access to reliable birth control. Children born to the homeless are at far greater risk of early death, stunted mental and physical development and even show symptoms of PTSD.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Stacey Warner

    I needed to read this book as part of my Human Service practicum and found myself feeling completely defeated by the end. It is shameful and unimaginable to me that hardly anything has changed in the over 30 years since this book was written. I still hear people talking about the issue of homelessness as the fault of the individual and how it was their choices that led them there. Until we can all admit to and look at the impacts of systemic racism and the unfairness of the socioeconomic classis I needed to read this book as part of my Human Service practicum and found myself feeling completely defeated by the end. It is shameful and unimaginable to me that hardly anything has changed in the over 30 years since this book was written. I still hear people talking about the issue of homelessness as the fault of the individual and how it was their choices that led them there. Until we can all admit to and look at the impacts of systemic racism and the unfairness of the socioeconomic classist system, we will continue to fail as a humanistic society, and children will continue to pay the price.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Rita

    2006 (original 1988), paperback, Three Rivers Press P.8: " 'yes, there are new jobs,' a minister said. 'There's a new McDonald's and a burger king. You can take home $450 in a month from jobs like that. That might barely pay the rent. What do you do if somebody gets sick? What do you do for food and clothes? These may be good jobs for a teenager. Can you ask a 30-year-old man who's worked for G.M. Since he was 18 to keep his wife and kids alive on jobs like that? There are jobs cleaning rooms in t 2006 (original 1988), paperback, Three Rivers Press P.8: " 'yes, there are new jobs,' a minister said. 'There's a new McDonald's and a burger king. You can take home $450 in a month from jobs like that. That might barely pay the rent. What do you do if somebody gets sick? What do you do for food and clothes? These may be good jobs for a teenager. Can you ask a 30-year-old man who's worked for G.M. Since he was 18 to keep his wife and kids alive on jobs like that? There are jobs cleaning rooms in the hotel you're staying at. Can you expect a single mother with three kids to hold her life together with that kind of work? All you hear about these days are so-called service jobs -- it makes me wonder where America is going. If we aren't producing anything of value, will we keep our nation going on hamburger stands? Who is all this "service" for, if no one's got a real job making something of real worth?' " P.15-16: "What distinguishes housing from other basic needs of life? Why, of many essentials, is it the first to go? Housing has some unique characteristics, as urban planning specialist Chester Hartman has observed. One pays for housing well in advance. The entire month's rent must be paid on the first day of any rental period. One pays for food only a few days before it is consumed, and one always has the option of delaying food expenditures until just prior to eating. Housing is a non-divisible and not easily adjustable expenditure. 'one cannot pay less rent for the next month by not using the living room,' Hartman observes. By contrast, one can rapidly and drastically adjust one's food consumption: for example, by buying less expensive food, eating less, or skipping meals...." P.45: "Some, but not all, welfare hotel owners make large contributions to political campaigns in New York City. Mister Horn and his partners, who received the largest business, make the largest contributions. One of their hotels, the Jamaica Arms, was selected by the city to house 90 families with sick children. This building belonged to the city in 1982; it had been seized from former owners in default of taxes. Instead of keeping the site to operate a humane shelter, the city sold it to a private corporation for $75,000. It was then resold to its present owners for $200,000. 'the city,' writes Thehe Voice, 'now pays about $1.2 million a year to house families in a building it owned 4 years ago.' since 1980, the owners of this building have contributed over $100,000 to the electoral campaigns of City officials, several of whom determine housing policy." P.46-7: " 'City policy toward the homeless,' according to a task force of the American Psychiatric Association, 'is best described as one that lurches from court order to court order... Harvests of waste rather than economies of scale are reaped when crisis management becomes the modus operandi...' This, in the opinion of most homeless advocates in New York city, is the first important explanation [why NYC keeps on wasting public funds to shelter homeless people in such dangerous hotels]. Reverend Tom Nees, director of the Community of Hope, a nonprofit shelter in Washington, D.C., speaks to the same point in describing the response of government officials in that city. 'They're just putting out fires,' he observes, 'and picking up the bodies.' This is an inevitable result when crisis management replaces wise, farsighted planning. A second explanation is provided by Kim Hopper and Jill Hamberg in a paper written for the Community Service Society of New York. Their words, although directed to the crisis in New York, apply to the entire nation. 'the pace, form, and vagaries of contemporary relief efforts,' they write, '-- their reputed "failures" in short -- may be read as signaling the re-emergence of an older disciplinary agenda. Specifically, they portend the return to a style of assistance that, while alleviating some distress, accepts humiliation as the price of relief and upholds the examples of its labors as a deterrent to potential applicants for help.' " On fostering children taken away from un-housed families: P.104-5: "The dollar cost of juvenile placement are the least important; even these are quite astonishing. The cost of placement for a child is who is too severely damaged to be suited for an ordinary foster home -- one who requires placement, for example, in a low security institution -- ranges from $25,000 up to $50,000 yearly. In cases where children are believed to need more careful supervision, costs may be as high as $80,000. Shortages of space in juvenile homes, moreover, frequently compel the court to place the child in an institution which is also home to serious offenders. The status offender and the genuine offender (one who, were he older, would have been condemned to prison) live together in such institutions. The status offender learns survival strategies from those with whom he dwells and must contend. Soon enough, the categories that divide them become academic. The child whose sole offense had been a status that compelled compassionate attention from the state now becomes apprenticed to those who are competent in real offenses. he learns to struggle, to connive, to lie, and to fight back. With few exemptions, children placed in institutions of this sort mature in time into adult offenders. The cost of their adult incarceration may be less than that of juvenile detention ($40,000 yearly in an average cost for prison maintenance of adults at the present time in New York City), but there are additional expenses that cannot be measured: damage to victims and to properties; cost required to provide police protection for the law abiding citizen; costs of litigation, prosecution, and defense; and all the other billions squandered as the seemingly inevitable price of our initial willingness to countenance the institutional assault upon these children in their early years." One thing I resent the most about the country that I was born in, is the teaching to me as a child that my country is not chueco. You would hear about mexico, and how corrupt the officials are. Others would tell me, when I would mention this, "your country is just as corrupt; it's just hidden." As I grew older and more disillusioned with my country, how true I have found that out to be. This book was published originally in 1988. It's now 2021, so how many times worse has this problem gotten? the gradual but purposeful pushing of the working class into unhoused status, into sickness and death, of their children being pushed into becoming criminals?

  8. 4 out of 5

    Lynn

    Rachel and Her Children was published in 1988 and based on events around Christmas 1985 when Jonathan Kozol decided to take a look at the Martinique Hotel where 3 floors were reserved for families who were homeless. In 1980, the federal government followed by state governments, began heavily cutting the social safety nets for the poor. Before that, the financial sports had remained stagnant since 1975 due to a recession. Parents who had often worked long term jobs found themselves out of work as Rachel and Her Children was published in 1988 and based on events around Christmas 1985 when Jonathan Kozol decided to take a look at the Martinique Hotel where 3 floors were reserved for families who were homeless. In 1980, the federal government followed by state governments, began heavily cutting the social safety nets for the poor. Before that, the financial sports had remained stagnant since 1975 due to a recession. Parents who had often worked long term jobs found themselves out of work as businesses closed or they got sick, etc. NYC had really no plans regarding the homeless and were thrust into action from court order to court order. Kozol was great at giving a face to the homeless suffering and spurred a bit of a movement to help them. The crisis eased a bit in the 1990s as the economy improved but in the last few years cities are backtracking at any commitments to the homeless and the poor. A great book!

  9. 4 out of 5

    Karolína

    I know absolutely nothing about the situation of poor families in America so this book was very interesting to me. I understand the author was trying to show, that not all poor people, that ended up on welfare, are these lazy drug addicts that never worked and never will, however I feel like he almost "romanticized" the characters, whose stories he described. The book was written almost 2 decades ago, so I really hope the situation of homeless families in USA is better. No child deserves to live I know absolutely nothing about the situation of poor families in America so this book was very interesting to me. I understand the author was trying to show, that not all poor people, that ended up on welfare, are these lazy drug addicts that never worked and never will, however I feel like he almost "romanticized" the characters, whose stories he described. The book was written almost 2 decades ago, so I really hope the situation of homeless families in USA is better. No child deserves to live in the conditions described in this book and my hart broke for the children dying from lead poisoning, unsufficient health-care and those so hungry, they cant focus at school. It does open your eyes a little bit, especially before the holiday season now, when i think most of us are bit more sensitive to those less fortunate. Good book!

  10. 4 out of 5

    Vanessa

    I read this book for a college political ideology class years ago. I still remember how it was on of those precious few books that shifted my outlook on life in some fundamental way (another one is Sister Helen Prejean's Dead Man Walking.) As the title says, it's the story of homeless children in this country, a subject the author felt was ignored or under-reported. I read this 20 years ago and this book has quite obviously lost none of its relevance. If there is a problem with Kozol, it's that I read this book for a college political ideology class years ago. I still remember how it was on of those precious few books that shifted my outlook on life in some fundamental way (another one is Sister Helen Prejean's Dead Man Walking.) As the title says, it's the story of homeless children in this country, a subject the author felt was ignored or under-reported. I read this 20 years ago and this book has quite obviously lost none of its relevance. If there is a problem with Kozol, it's that he writes great, life-changing books with distinctly non flashy titles.

  11. 4 out of 5

    briz

    A raw, enraged scream of a book. This is an "activist journalist" account of a bunch of homeless families living in a hellhole called the Hotel Martinique, in 1980s New York City. By the Kafka-esque nightmares of modern American capitalism and bureaucracy, the government (a) pays $3000/month to house a family in a couple of cockroach-infested rooms, (b) allows homeless families a voucher of $270/month for rent in Section 8 housing, while (c) the absolute lowest 1980s NYC rents start at about $40 A raw, enraged scream of a book. This is an "activist journalist" account of a bunch of homeless families living in a hellhole called the Hotel Martinique, in 1980s New York City. By the Kafka-esque nightmares of modern American capitalism and bureaucracy, the government (a) pays $3000/month to house a family in a couple of cockroach-infested rooms, (b) allows homeless families a voucher of $270/month for rent in Section 8 housing, while (c) the absolute lowest 1980s NYC rents start at about $400. It is INFURIATING. It's also tragic, and perverse. I've been lately thinking about how anti-social and anti-human our "corporate-first" American mentality is: women musn't have choices over how and when they have children, women and men musn't take more than a few weeks off to raise their newborns, the individual (and only the individual) is to blame for their poverty, and charity (Christian charity!) to the poor is "rebranded" as an "entitlement" that is blowing up our budget (while military spending, of course, is never questioned). Government's job is only to "keep us safe" (whatever that means), anything else is too much. Anyway, so this book was written in the 1980s, during the Reagan years; another time when this anti-human corporo-theocracy was ascendant and Jonathan Kozol, the author, makes no bones about pointing an angry finger straight at the then-President. Chapters detailing the living conditions of these poor families, their hopes and dreams and fears, are interspersed with descriptions of Federal and state policies. If anything, the policy landscape around homelessness is irrational and, often, worse than nothing: it's a hodge-podge mix of efforts to address specific outrages uncovered by the media, and efforts to hide the problem and hope it just goes away. That's the most heartbreaking parts of the book: when Kozol, and the poor families, understand a core truth about their situation - that the government policies aren't actually meant to help them, they're meant to HIDE them, and that there's an honest hope that they just go away/disappear/die off. Absolutely infuriating. Highly recommended, though this also needs to be updated! I spent a lot of the book wondering what was the same and what had changed in the last 30 years.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Jane Brewer

    I love Jonathan Kozol's works. This book did not disappoint either. The problem of homeless children/families in American has only gotten worse since this book was published in the late 80s. Kozol follows several families for a couple of years. He talks to them about why and how they ended up homeless and depicts the impossibility of them finding their way out of the system. He accurately shows how once a family ends up in the welfare system, it is unlikely that they will ever get out. The welfa I love Jonathan Kozol's works. This book did not disappoint either. The problem of homeless children/families in American has only gotten worse since this book was published in the late 80s. Kozol follows several families for a couple of years. He talks to them about why and how they ended up homeless and depicts the impossibility of them finding their way out of the system. He accurately shows how once a family ends up in the welfare system, it is unlikely that they will ever get out. The welfare system is constructed to keep lower class families in its grasp. I don't know how to solve the problem, but Kozol certainly makes the reader think.

  13. 4 out of 5

    DW

    Disturbing. Not only that people have to live like that, but also the perversity of the system. The city seriously pays high prices to people running the homeless shelters, which are not fit for human habitation? And then forces them to waste their time "looking for apartments" that cost less than it costs the city to keep them in the homeless shelter? And why would they waste people's time sending them, in the middle of the night, to shelters that are full or won't take them? I hope that the sys Disturbing. Not only that people have to live like that, but also the perversity of the system. The city seriously pays high prices to people running the homeless shelters, which are not fit for human habitation? And then forces them to waste their time "looking for apartments" that cost less than it costs the city to keep them in the homeless shelter? And why would they waste people's time sending them, in the middle of the night, to shelters that are full or won't take them? I hope that the system has improved in the last thirty years.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Victor Uriz

    A good read for anyone interested in the social work field A well written, heart breaking story of families who are trapped and misunderstood by society and the political system in the 1980's. This book have me a new outlook on homelessness today. I am interested on educating myself more on the modern homelessness issue. However, this read was a great place to start and covers deeply embedded issues like prejudice and discrimination. A good read for anyone interested in the social work field A well written, heart breaking story of families who are trapped and misunderstood by society and the political system in the 1980's. This book have me a new outlook on homelessness today. I am interested on educating myself more on the modern homelessness issue. However, this read was a great place to start and covers deeply embedded issues like prejudice and discrimination.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Ellen

    3.5 stars Excellent reporting and still relevant today. Important subject. I would have liked to have seen some of the individuals' stories more fully developed, but that won't stop me from reading more of his work. 3.5 stars Excellent reporting and still relevant today. Important subject. I would have liked to have seen some of the individuals' stories more fully developed, but that won't stop me from reading more of his work.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Rach Novotny

    A tough but powerful read. While the information in the book is dated (it was written over 30 years ago) and many of the institutions no longer exist, the stories told in the book are gripping and heart wrenching. Well worth the read.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Kathy Trimbell

    This book was written 30 years ago, however it would appear that as a country we still have a long way to go to successfully address the homeless population in the US. The statistics may have changed, but not the individual stories.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Caitlin Vaille

    This was my first nonfiction book, and I wasn't disappointed. My eyes were opened to so many things, and the amount of sympathy I felt for these people is unparalleled This was my first nonfiction book, and I wasn't disappointed. My eyes were opened to so many things, and the amount of sympathy I felt for these people is unparalleled

  19. 4 out of 5

    Kay

    An important work on family homelessness, though I've always found Kozol's work to show a residual disdain for the poor--too many lurid details shared in a casual manner. An important work on family homelessness, though I've always found Kozol's work to show a residual disdain for the poor--too many lurid details shared in a casual manner.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Ernie

    I would like to see this book updated for our current era. I am curious to know if we as a society have made any real progress in the battle against poverty and homelessness.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Mariella

    The only issue is this circumstances from 1986. I thought the info was a little more recent but that's on me. The only issue is this circumstances from 1986. I thought the info was a little more recent but that's on me.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Ellen

    I wonder how things have changed since the late 80s when this was written. Not much I'd guess. (Not the best choice for corona-quarantine) I wonder how things have changed since the late 80s when this was written. Not much I'd guess. (Not the best choice for corona-quarantine)

  23. 4 out of 5

    Joomi Lee

    This book made me cry. I learned from the author that "Rachel" died years ago but that her children are still alive. This book made me cry. I learned from the author that "Rachel" died years ago but that her children are still alive.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Sidik Fofana

    SIX WORD REVIEW: Makes you feel guilty of complicity.

  25. 4 out of 5

    D

    upsetting (and You have to reference the 1988 publication date to forgive some of the language used)

  26. 4 out of 5

    Cathy Crowell

    I read this book as part of the Just Faith program a number of years ago. Very good!

  27. 5 out of 5

    Mollie Feltman

    I appreciated the political perspective and the setting.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Eric

    Written in 1987, this book that made people aware of housing the homeless is a tough read. The subject matter and the interview style aside, it seems to present only one facet of why the people are homeless, which he claims late in the book, "is not the issue" for his writing. Through his interviewees, he his bring light to plight of people who have no voice. People who are left without water, food, and basic rights. Kazol is illustrating how homelessness effects on people (children especially), Written in 1987, this book that made people aware of housing the homeless is a tough read. The subject matter and the interview style aside, it seems to present only one facet of why the people are homeless, which he claims late in the book, "is not the issue" for his writing. Through his interviewees, he his bring light to plight of people who have no voice. People who are left without water, food, and basic rights. Kazol is illustrating how homelessness effects on people (children especially), the political discourse during the Reagan years, and how the label of "homelessness" shapes my (our) prejudice toward people who still need to be seen as human. I was hope to hear beyond the tales of heartache and health, all of which are terrible to happen to anyone. The tales are made more difficult to digest when Kozol talks about NY budgets, payments to landlords, and the bureaucracy that hinders any real solution in an efficient way. This may prove his point, but I grew tired of the interviews, which followed the same look and feel. I did find myself asking "why?" Why are they in the situation? Why is NY paying so much for such acts? Maybe that is where the rest of us are to take up arms? Ask this questions for ourselves. Be involved. He does not strike me as being too sympathetic, if indeed one can be with any population that suffers, but he does not seem to ask those question for each group. I have thought how people end up in a shelter, homeless - I figured it was love. Love has saved me from being on a street. Finishing this book, I wonder if instead of handing people money it might change something if we actually take them to eat, sit with them, and listen.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Grace frasco

    The purpose of the book, Rachel and Her Children written by Jonathon Kozol is to make people aware of homelessness in the United States and its effect on families, but mostly children and the community. The author interviews all kinds of people living at The Hotel Martinique in New York City. The theme of the book is that homelessness happens to all kinds of people. Sometimes when you see a homeless person, you can think that the person is bad and they deserve to be homeless. This book makes you The purpose of the book, Rachel and Her Children written by Jonathon Kozol is to make people aware of homelessness in the United States and its effect on families, but mostly children and the community. The author interviews all kinds of people living at The Hotel Martinique in New York City. The theme of the book is that homelessness happens to all kinds of people. Sometimes when you see a homeless person, you can think that the person is bad and they deserve to be homeless. This book makes you understand that good people are also homeless. There are so many homeless people living in the United States and we should try and help them better than we are doing right now. I think the author used several styles when writing this book. It was a description of the homelessness population in New York around 1985. The author used narration by telling stories of the homeless people and how they became homeless. He also used argument by giving facts about a topic to help the reader understand how bad homeless is. The book was very sad. It made me think how lucky I am to have a house and be healthy. It was sad because sometimes people have to wait a long time to get into a shelter. Then sometimes even when they can get into the shelter they don’t want to live there because other people steal their stuff and there is a lot of sicknesses in the shelter and they don’t want to catch the sickness. Homeless people always scared me before but after reading this book I know that some of them are really nice people and it’s not their fault they lost their homes.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Monique

    What drew me to Jonathan Kozol's book was his attempt to understanding the plight of those who find themselves homeless. The author highlights the roles the governement, institutions, everyday people, homeless organizations, and society play into the issue. Most important I grateful that he look beyond the numbers and his own disillusions with the homeless to know actual homeless people. This book is not full of fake optimism or preachy advocacy. I found this interesting because I consider myself What drew me to Jonathan Kozol's book was his attempt to understanding the plight of those who find themselves homeless. The author highlights the roles the governement, institutions, everyday people, homeless organizations, and society play into the issue. Most important I grateful that he look beyond the numbers and his own disillusions with the homeless to know actual homeless people. This book is not full of fake optimism or preachy advocacy. I found this interesting because I consider myself very interested and involved with several activist issues. Yes, I like advocacy and optimism. However, this book confronts the raw, ugly, and fearful part of homeless - not just for those who are in it but for others who observe it as well. I think everyone should read this book. I believe we will find that we hold unrealistic, uncompassionate, and misconceptions of all those who are homeless. We could try to deny these feelings or thoughts. We could become fustrated. We could become hateful to those who are homeless and take it out on them. We could, we have, and we have the control to stop this. I beleive that we need to wake up to the issue and raise the consciousness of our society. Do not treat the sypmtons only but the cause of homeless. The work is both urgent and slow. If we try small steps we can create the momentum needed to address this very important issue.

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