RESPECT by Sara Lawrence-Lightfoot


An Exploration
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A simple, stunning study of the power of respect to forge salutary bonds between unlikely partners. Lawrence-Lightfoot, a professor at the Harvard Graduate School of Education (I—ve Known Rivers: Lives of Loss and Liberation,1994), offers penetrating portraits of six individuals in sundry professions who share the ability to traverse social and economic barriers in reaching others. Lawrence-Lightfoot focuses not only on the extraordinary work that these people do, but on their personal backgrounds and possible motivating factors, as well. Jennifer Dohrn, a nurse-midwife, directs a Childbearing Center that she founded in New York City’s South Bronx. Determined to empower poor women who have been neglected by traditional medicine, Dohrn oversees a staff of seven midwives, along with staffers who serve as liaisons to the community. The key to Dohrn’s success is her admiration and respect for the struggling families she meets daily. And the support that she offers others helps restore her after the painful death of her activist husband, who was killed in Cape Town, South Africa. Just as Dohrn encourages the women with whom she interacts to question authority, Kay Cottle similarly challenges her middle and high school students. Willing to take risks and share personal stories with young people, Cottle successfully forges a bond with them that allows them to share their experiences and insights in return. In her respect for her students, Cottle constantly tries new approaches that “urge students to confront ideas from a variety of perspectives and appeal to a number of senses.” While most of the professionals portrayed came from educated, nurturing backgrounds, there are exceptions. Bill Wallace, an Episcopal priest, pastoral psychotherapist, and AIDS activist, attributes his caring for the disenfranchised to his having grown up in chaos within a distressed family. Replete with a bibliography entitled “Some Roots of Respect” (with source materials as diverse as Shakespeare, Buber, Kant and contemporary therapists on self-esteem), Lawrence-Lightfoot’s elegantly written study enlightens and invigorates. (Author tour)

Pub Date: April 1st, 1999
ISBN: 0-7382-0093-X
Page count: 256pp
Publisher: Perseus
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15th, 1999


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