THE AIR DOWN HERE by Gil C. Alicea


True Tales from a South Bronx Boyhood
by with & photographed by
Age Range: 11 - 15
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 Ruminations, 115 in all, recast by DeSena (Lies: The Whole Truth, 1993, not reviewed) from taped conversations with a South Bronx teenager, on drugs, sex, teachers, school food, and other topics dear to an adolescent's heart. Alicea comes across as an opinionated, reasonably articulate 15-year-old with a realistic combination of naãvetÇ and self-awareness, offering sweeping solutions to social problems, but also cogent observations about the dangers of hanging out, the realities of life at school and on the block, and dozens of other subjects. Despite DeSena's introduction and a set of imaginatively composed black-and-white photos, readers will learn more about Alicea's concerns than about him; there's no clear chronology to these pieces, and the only ``tales'' are infrequent, fragmentary anecdotes. He has little or nothing to say about his friends, day-to-day home life or future plansthe note that he chose to start tenth grade in a private school outside New York City comes out of the blue. While a sense of humor and optimistic view of life's possibilities suggest that not every inner-city resident is beaten down by the mean streets, Alicea's rambling narrative seems more like a wall than a window, lacking the intensity or clarity of purpose that fires books like Alex Kotlowitz's There Are No Children Here (1991). (Autobiography. 11-15)

Pub Date: Sept. 1st, 1995
ISBN: 0-8118-1048-8
Page count: 134pp
Publisher: Chronicle
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1st, 1995