A TRIBE APART: A Journey into the Heart of American Adolescence by Patricia Hersch
Kirkus Star

A TRIBE APART: A Journey into the Heart of American Adolescence

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On any given day across America, an editor somewhere is offering a rookie reporter this basic advice: Don't tell me, show me. Hersch, a former contributing editor to Psychology Today, illustrates the breathtaking impact this kind of reporting can have through her remarkable fly-on-the-wall chronicle of teenage life today. A mother of three adolescents, Hersch spent three years following eight teens of middle-and high-school age in her Virginia suburb. She went to their schools, took them out to eat, and above all listened as they gradually trusted her enough to share their worries, their fears, their stories. The result is an astonishingly candid, poignant, and at times disturbing portrait of life for today's average teens. Interspersed with the tales are a few statistics from various reports. For the most part, however, Hersch lets the teens make her point--that America has become a society in which far too many adults have reneged on their responsibilities to children. ""What kids need from adults is not just rides, pizza, chaperones, and discipline,"" Hersch writes. ""They need the telling of stories, the close ongoing contact so that they can learn and be accepted. If nobody is there to talk to, it is difficult to get the lessons of your own life so that you are adequately prepared to do the next thing."" As a sad consequence, far too many teens have become--as the title suggests--a tribe apart at the precise moment they most need adult leadership to help them make sense of the chaos they inhabit as they straggle to define themselves and the world they live in. A poignant look into a critical period in a young life, and a powerful exhortation to adults to start paying attention.

Pub Date: March 1st, 1998
ISBN: 034543594X
Page count: 384pp
Publisher: Fawcett/Ballantine