Young Adult Literature


Voices from the Streets: Young Former Gang Members Tell Their Stories
by S. Beth Atkin


From School Library Journal
Grade 7 Up?In this revealing book, Atkin shares interviews with former gang members she met, photographed, and interviewed in a two-year odyssey to document why young people join gangs and how they terminate memberships and reenter society's mainstream. Brandy England, a white middle-class teen from Ohio, joined a gang to get her mother's attention. Saroeum Phoung joined the Boston Red Dragons with other Cambodian youths to gain a sense of cultural identity and to stave off racist physical attacks. Elena Rojas, a first-generation Cuban-American living in Miami, wanted to escape physical abuse from a former boyfriend. Patrick is an Irish-Puerto Rican who lives in a Massachusetts town where violence is simply accepted as a way of life. Following the first-person accounts of these four young people, Atkin additionally profiles former gang members and other concerned adults who spend their lives trying to save young people from the destructive effects of gangs. The book is liberally illustrated with the author's stark black-and-white photos. The young people's comments are largely unedited, which means there is plenty of street language in the narratives. Nothing in them offends as much, however, as the horrors of their lives. All have witnessed the violent deaths of friends and family, and many have been forced to cope with dysfunctional parents. An extremely powerful and revealing book that deserves to be read by a much, much wider audience than it is unfortunately likely to receive.?Jerry D. Flack, University of Colorado, Colorado Springs
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc.