A gritty and candid exposé of inner-city teaching.

Behind the scenes in the life of a teacher in the Bronx.

With honesty and refreshing straightforwardness, Garon delivers true stories of her time spent in high school classrooms in the Bronx through accounts of her students and personal emails. She places readers on the front lines with her pupils as they navigate rough moments and face difficult decisions in their lives. Some students considered joining gangs, some girls were pressured into sex and then needed to deal with unplanned pregnancies, some struggled to deal with the death of a loved one—through it all, Garon was there to offer advice, support and friendship on whatever terms were accepted by each individual student. She battled the need to teach English with insufficient books while trying to maintain discipline in the crowded classrooms; meanwhile, mice and cockroaches ran all over the school. Fights broke out constantly between gang members and because of rivalries over girls; gun scares were a common issue; and some kids didn’t have the required shoes, so they didn't bother to show up for gym. Along the way, Garon discovered that if you learn to relate to kids on their level, gain an understanding of their backgrounds and tie that to a classroom lesson, then kids are going to learn. Due to poverty and a lack of sufficient, helpful parenting, "students come to school emotionally and physically unprepared to learn…to expect that the students who endure these crises can regularly come to school, quietly sit down at their desks, and turn in their homework without incident…is absurd; the only thing more shocking is that sometimes they actually do manage this herculean task."

A gritty and candid exposé of inner-city teaching.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-62636-113-3

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Skyhorse Publishing

Review Posted Online: July 6, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2013


The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...

Elie Wiesel spent his early years in a small Transylvanian town as one of four children. 

He was the only one of the family to survive what Francois Maurois, in his introduction, calls the "human holocaust" of the persecution of the Jews, which began with the restrictions, the singularization of the yellow star, the enclosure within the ghetto, and went on to the mass deportations to the ovens of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. There are unforgettable and horrifying scenes here in this spare and sombre memoir of this experience of the hanging of a child, of his first farewell with his father who leaves him an inheritance of a knife and a spoon, and of his last goodbye at Buchenwald his father's corpse is already cold let alone the long months of survival under unconscionable conditions. 

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the sphere of suffering shared, and in this case extended to the death march itself, there is no spiritual or emotional legacy here to offset any reader reluctance.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2006

ISBN: 0374500010

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Hill & Wang

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006



Well-told and admonitory.

Young-rags-to-mature-riches memoir by broker and motivational speaker Gardner.

Born and raised in the Milwaukee ghetto, the author pulled himself up from considerable disadvantage. He was fatherless, and his adored mother wasn’t always around; once, as a child, he spied her at a family funeral accompanied by a prison guard. When beautiful, evanescent Moms was there, Chris also had to deal with Freddie “I ain’t your goddamn daddy!” Triplett, one of the meanest stepfathers in recent literature. Chris did “the dozens” with the homies, boosted a bit and in the course of youthful adventure was raped. His heroes were Miles Davis, James Brown and Muhammad Ali. Meanwhile, at the behest of Moms, he developed a fondness for reading. He joined the Navy and became a medic (preparing badass Marines for proctology), and a proficient lab technician. Moving up in San Francisco, married and then divorced, he sold medical supplies. He was recruited as a trainee at Dean Witter just around the time he became a homeless single father. All his belongings in a shopping cart, Gardner sometimes slept with his young son at the office (apparently undiscovered by the night cleaning crew). The two also frequently bedded down in a public restroom. After Gardner’s talents were finally appreciated by the firm of Bear Stearns, his American Dream became real. He got the cool duds, hot car and fine ladies so coveted from afar back in the day. He even had a meeting with Nelson Mandela. Through it all, he remained a prideful parent. His own no-daddy blues are gone now.

Well-told and admonitory.

Pub Date: June 1, 2006

ISBN: 0-06-074486-3

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Amistad/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2006

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