Thursday, February 01, 2007

There Are No Children Here by Alex Kotlowitz, and more....

I haven't posted lately, but I've been reading lots: There Are No Children Here by Alex Kotlowitz; The Grizzly Maze by Nick Jans; Julie & Julia by Julie Powell; and We, the Jury: Deciding the Scott Peterson Case by Jury Members, Frank Swertlow, and Lyndon Stambler--just to name a few. I seem to be on a bit of a non-fiction kick, as I look back.

There Are No Children Here should be required high school, if not junior high, reading. I grew up not too far from Chicago, and my father once drove us into one of the projects on accident. I can't remember wanting to get out of any other place more than I did that one! This book gives true insight into what it is like to actually live in one of those projects and to try to eke a childhood and/or family life out of that bleak existence. My biggest surprise was that, in all the poverty of the Henry Horner Homes, the mother of the children featured in this book continued to have hopes of a better life for her children. Her younger boys Pharoah and Lafayette are wise beyond their years, but the essence of their childhood lives on.

I was fascinated by Timothy Treadwell's death a couple of years ago and saw the movie pieced together from the footage he shot in Alaska. The Grizzly Maze is a nonjudgmental look at Treadwell's life based upon interviews with his supporters and his detractors alike. I still don't know what to make of him, but I know a lot more about bears now! I hope never to encounter any of the black bears that live in the mountains near my home. I must say I'm a lot less inclined to explore those mountains now.

Julie & Julia came out of a year long cooking/blogging experiment by Julie Powell. Approaching 30 years old, she looks for a project to focus upon and decides to work her way through Julia Child's Mastering the Art of French Cooking in one year's time. I can't say it was a great book and certainly didn't capture great food in the manner of Ruth Reichl, but it was a decent way to pass the time on the train to and from work.

Like many people, I avidly followed the Laci Peterson story and her husband's trial. I hoped this book would reveal greater detail about the evidence and the thought processes of the jurors. I was disappointed that it seemed mostly to focus upon the personal dynamics of the jury and the opinions of individual jury members. I'm sorry to say that We, the Jury may also be the worst written book I've ever read. Better books about the trial are A Deadly Game: The Untold Story of the Scott Peterson Investigation by Catherine Crier, and Blood Brother: 33 Reasons My Brother Scott Peterson Is Guilty by Anne Bird.


Holly said...

Hi Kirsten! Glad to have you back! Thanks for the reviews. The Julie and Julia book sounds interesting!

allisonmariecat said...

Wow! Thank you for all the reviews. I'd heard about Julie & Julia, but wasn't sure if I wanted to read it or not. There Are No Children Here sounds wonderful.