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Posted April 25, 2006
A genuinely moving read
A fence separates adolescents from adults, even from society at large. The teenage years have long been a time of awkwardness and self-discovery. Seeking to bridge the chasm that separates youth from adulthood, teenagers have historically turned to peers, social groups, and behavior that is deemed taboo, as a catalyst for the necessary leap. To worsen the ongoing struggle, it appears that modern adolescents are facing a larger variety of choices carrying greater significances than ever before. Add to that the statistical fact that couples divorce more and sooner than ever before, and that families are torn apart more now than in previous decades, the disaster becomes evident. Activities that were shunned by society in the past, are now commonplace, and become ever-growing concerns to watchful parents. Any casual observer will be forced into the elusive question of Why? What has caused this apparent disparity between generations? Why are teens becoming more isolated from adult culture? How big of a problem is it? What can be done to remedy this isolation and open the doors of communication? In her book, A Tribe Apart, Patricia Hersch presents undeniable evidence that something is different, if not, wrong with the current methods of handling adolescents. She provides a glimpse into the lives of 8 students as she takes reader into their world of confusion, lack of direction, and above all their unspoken desire to be loved. It is impossible to take a genuine look into the lives presented in these pages, and not be moved. By taking an admittedly journalistic approach, Hersch is able to present the lives of her subjects without having too large an impact on their behavior. Her goal was to provide an accurate, unbiased, and non-moralizing view of reality to her readers. She describes her careful efforts to limit her influence and gain rapport with students by not instructing behavior and by regularly observing without giving advice. In this way she was able to allow the students to open up to her as they would to a friend. The result is an honest view into the minds, lives, and social dynamic of today¿s teens. At times the reader is left to make their own conclusions of the problem and possible solutions. I believe such an interpretation by the reader was the design of Hersch. By following the scope of the situation and allowing the reader to make sense of it all, she is making the statement that we all must have a part in changing the problem. If she were to give her opinion with every piece of fact, the reader would not be forced to think critically and would therefore become passive. The diversity of the decisions and actions of modern teenagers becomes clear in the beginning of the book. From deciding what items mainstream culture finds acceptable to whether or not 13 is too young to have sex, adolescents struggle daily with complex issues. Often, dilemmas that could be considered innocent are found right along with those that carry long-term significance. It is obvious that they do not share the same hierarchy of norms, values, and morals that adults have. For many, it seems that loyalty to peers ranks far above loyalty to school, teachers, and parents. Hersch outlines these struggles in a meaningful way. As the book progressed, I felt very much attached to the lives of the individual students. Each chapter reveals another facet of adolescent dealings and emphasizes the humanity behind otherwise inhumane circumstances. Examples of this can be found throughout, but one in particular stands out. Brendon is an average high-school student. His family life is less from ideal but his parents are still there for him. Despite the external appearances, Brendon is member of a graffiti underworld who consider themselves artists. Hersch relates this story in an endearing manner. Rather than writing off the graffiti as a criminal activity, she reveals the thoughts of the ¿criminal¿. Brendon finds the lack of color in the world disturbWas this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted May 19, 2003
i am 15 myself and once i read this book it made me relize that some of the things my friends do are pretty dumb. it does get challenging to follow the charecters from time to time but over all a good bookWas this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted December 14, 2002
Seven years ago I was the same age as a lot of the teenagers profiled in this book. I found this to be very interesting and it really made me think back to the days when many of these issues were very real and important to me. I liked the book but found it hard at times to follow all of the people from chapter to chapter. All parents should read this book. I don't care if your kid is 8 years old or 18 years old, there is much to be learned from the teenagers in this storyWas this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted June 1, 2014
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