Cottle is a sociologist and psychotherapist who has written several books, some in the vein of Robert Coles. He listens to...

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BLACK CHILDREN, WHITE DREAMS

Cottle is a sociologist and psychotherapist who has written several books, some in the vein of Robert Coles. He listens to people ever so humbly and sensitively, and records their words in a stylized but moving fashion, along with his own feelings about the presumption and the beauty of the whole experience. This is doubtless one of his best books. It centers around a couple of black children of grade-school age, William D. and Adrien, who live in the Roxbury slum of Boston. Cottle talked to them -- even ventured to ask them -- about their views on politics. They responded with absorption, constraint, and something akin to, but not exactly, cynicism. ""So if they really wanted to do a good thing as President, then they'd give us jobs,"" says William D., whose parents work very hard for very little money, and who has no better prospects himself. Adrien's widowed mother, who holds two and a half jobs, pitches into the book as a splendid person tolerating Cottle's naivete (he can hardly believe that a landlord would burn down his own building). Readers who imagine all ghetto inhabitants to be alienated and degraded should listen to her upstandingness and her revolutionary hopes. . . and to William D.'s earnest musings: he endorses the law-and-order formula because his neighborhood is so scary, and he wonders like any suburban child, ""Maybe they could make the guy who loses Vice-President."" Adrien cares about the Vietnam war as well as the food prices she follows day-by-day as the family housekeeper. ""What these children. . . know of or feel about political, and what they may be willing to tell a rich, white, 'formally' educated male sociologist,"" says Cottle, ""constitutes a major methodological issue."" In any case, the book carries a sense of individual reality and social complexity. But who thought up the title?

Pub Date: Jan. 28, 1973

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: -

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin

Review Posted Online: N/A

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 1973