Books by S. Beth Atkin

GUNSTORIES by S. Beth Atkin
Released: Jan. 3, 2006

With an eye to the reality that "[g]uns are a fact of life for young people growing up in the United States today," Atkin offers up the stories of 18 young people whose lives have intersected with guns in some way. Inner-city youths whose lives have been shattered by firearms share the pages with rural kids, for whom shooting is a positive part of their lives. The stories alternate, from the college woman who found confidence through shooting, to a boy who accidentally shot himself in the head, and so on. Although the author's intent is to present as balanced a look as possible, the very nature of the stories works against her: The tale of a former gang member who lost six loved ones by the age of 13 cannot help but be more compelling than the story of a girl who was a member of her college's shooting team. Also, the "pro-gun" voices have almost all been drawn from one shooting club and present a regrettable sameness of attitude and experience. Still, it's a thoughtful and worthy effort that takes both issue and readership seriously. (bibliography, related organizations) (Nonfiction. 12+)Read full book review >
Released: Sept. 1, 1996

In a work subtitled ``Young Former Gang Members Tell Their Stories,'' Atkin offers readers what for most of them will be a rare and realistic glimpse of life in a street gang, through a series of searingly honest interviews. The reasons the participants join a gang vary: substitutes for splintered families, mutual protection, shared ethnicity. The casual discussion of street violence chills; one young woman shrugs off drive-by shootings as a way for dealing with anger, and the numerous mentions of gang-related suicides, murders, and rapes become nearly unbearable. In common are the speakers' confessions of feeling dead themselves, numb from all the chaos surrounding them. The good news is that these same young people now feel alive, healthy, and in control of their lives. The second half of the book presents interviews with ex-gang members and social workers who have established programs to educate, nurture, and train young people who want to change their lives. Black-and-white photographs bring another level of authenticity to their plight; a glossary of slang and technical terms proves handy as well. Alex Kotlowitz provides a foreword (not seen). (index, not seen, b&w photos, glossary) (Nonfiction. 10+) Read full book review >