An outstanding book for policymakers and people who work with adrift young people.

ABANDONED

AMERICA'S LOST YOUTH AND THE CRISIS OF DISCONNECTION

An urgent portrait of a neglected group of at-risk young people.

Americans under the age of 25 grab headlines when they launch flashy startups or become activists for social change. However, as Washington Monthly contributing editor Kim argues in her quietly powerful nonfiction debut, the success of such leaders masks an alarming reality ill-served by current public policy: “In 2017, as many as 4.5 million young people” ages 16-24 were neither in school nor working. Social scientists call them “disconnected youth” (or, in Europe, NEETs, for “not in employment, education, or training”), and many of them have aged out of foster care or spent time in prison and lack the support of trusted adults. A vice president of the Progressive Policy Institute, the author shows clearly how their plight tends to result from years of systemic failures. Some disconnected youth live in rural or urban “opportunity deserts,” which decay as good jobs vanish, or “higher education deserts,” which either have no post-secondary schools or none that teach relevant skills. Others have been unprepared for the transition to economic independence by schools, foster care, the criminal justice system, or government initiatives intended to help them. A striking example of a program falling short is the federal Job Corps, which gives 16-to-24-year-olds room and board in a dormlike setting along with education and training. However, according to a 2018 report by the U.S. Department of Labor, the Corps “could not demonstrate the extent to which its training programs helped participants enter meaningful jobs appropriate to their training.” Among her many and varied examples of successful programs, Kim cites the Latin American Youth Center in Washington, D.C., a drop-in center where homeless young adults can find a safe place to stay during the day—and get food, take a shower, and talk to counselors. Although rich in statistics that support its positions, the narrative is never wonky, and the author enlivens the text with miniprofiles of beneficiaries of high-impact programs.

An outstanding book for policymakers and people who work with adrift young people.

Pub Date: Feb. 4, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-62097-500-8

Page Count: 208

Publisher: The New Press

Review Posted Online: Nov. 11, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2019

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

A moving meditation on mortality by a gifted writer whose dual perspectives of physician and patient provide a singular...

Reader Votes

  • Readers Vote
  • 13

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

Google Rating

  • google rating
  • google rating
  • google rating
  • google rating
  • google rating
  • Kirkus Reviews'
    Best Books Of 2016

  • New York Times Bestseller

  • Pulitzer Prize Finalist

WHEN BREATH BECOMES AIR

A neurosurgeon with a passion for literature tragically finds his perfect subject after his diagnosis of terminal lung cancer.

Writing isn’t brain surgery, but it’s rare when someone adept at the latter is also so accomplished at the former. Searching for meaning and purpose in his life, Kalanithi pursued a doctorate in literature and had felt certain that he wouldn’t enter the field of medicine, in which his father and other members of his family excelled. “But I couldn’t let go of the question,” he writes, after realizing that his goals “didn’t quite fit in an English department.” “Where did biology, morality, literature and philosophy intersect?” So he decided to set aside his doctoral dissertation and belatedly prepare for medical school, which “would allow me a chance to find answers that are not in books, to find a different sort of sublime, to forge relationships with the suffering, and to keep following the question of what makes human life meaningful, even in the face of death and decay.” The author’s empathy undoubtedly made him an exceptional doctor, and the precision of his prose—as well as the moral purpose underscoring it—suggests that he could have written a good book on any subject he chose. Part of what makes this book so essential is the fact that it was written under a death sentence following the diagnosis that upended his life, just as he was preparing to end his residency and attract offers at the top of his profession. Kalanithi learned he might have 10 years to live or perhaps five. Should he return to neurosurgery (he could and did), or should he write (he also did)? Should he and his wife have a baby? They did, eight months before he died, which was less than two years after the original diagnosis. “The fact of death is unsettling,” he understates. “Yet there is no other way to live.”

A moving meditation on mortality by a gifted writer whose dual perspectives of physician and patient provide a singular clarity.

Pub Date: Jan. 19, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-8129-8840-6

Page Count: 248

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: Sept. 30, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2015

Did you like this book?

Occasionally wonky but overall a good case for how the dismal science can make the world less—well, dismal.

GOOD ECONOMICS FOR HARD TIMES

“Quality of life means more than just consumption”: Two MIT economists urge that a smarter, more politically aware economics be brought to bear on social issues.

It’s no secret, write Banerjee and Duflo (co-authors: Poor Economics: A Radical Rethinking of the Way To Fight Global Poverty, 2011), that “we seem to have fallen on hard times.” Immigration, trade, inequality, and taxation problems present themselves daily, and they seem to be intractable. Economics can be put to use in figuring out these big-issue questions. Data can be adduced, for example, to answer the question of whether immigration tends to suppress wages. The answer: “There is no evidence low-skilled migration to rich countries drives wage and employment down for the natives.” In fact, it opens up opportunities for those natives by freeing them to look for better work. The problem becomes thornier when it comes to the matter of free trade; as the authors observe, “left-behind people live in left-behind places,” which explains why regional poverty descended on Appalachia when so many manufacturing jobs left for China in the age of globalism, leaving behind not just left-behind people but also people ripe for exploitation by nationalist politicians. The authors add, interestingly, that the same thing occurred in parts of Germany, Spain, and Norway that fell victim to the “China shock.” In what they call a “slightly technical aside,” they build a case for addressing trade issues not with trade wars but with consumption taxes: “It makes no sense to ask agricultural workers to lose their jobs just so steelworkers can keep theirs, which is what tariffs accomplish.” Policymakers might want to consider such counsel, especially when it is coupled with the observation that free trade benefits workers in poor countries but punishes workers in rich ones.

Occasionally wonky but overall a good case for how the dismal science can make the world less—well, dismal.

Pub Date: Nov. 12, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-61039-950-0

Page Count: 432

Publisher: PublicAffairs

Review Posted Online: Aug. 29, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2019

Did you like this book?

more