Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Photographer and youth counselor Allison debuts with a volume comprised of 18 accounts of teens who have overcome extraordinary obstacles, but frames the profiles in a way that detracts from the testimonies. The first chapter begins with a composite picture of life on the streets of Johannesburg and Pretoria through the words of several teenagers; the following chapters highlight one or two teenagers' stories. Although the subjects vary in nationality, race and gender, they share an underlying spirit of self-reliance and a commitment to change as they tackle problems that range from drug addiction to civil unrest in Northern Ireland; one girl, sold into prostitution in Thailand at the age of 10, is now in a training program to educate her native village about AIDS. Atmospheric black-and-white photographs transport readers to each subject's environs. For example, runaway Carrie is shown emerging from her makeshift lodgings under a bridge in Denver, Colo., to head to her part-time job. Unfortunately, the chapters end jarringly with commentary from adults who are involved with the programs and organizations helping these teens. Unlike the kids profiled, who speak to their peers, the adults address other adults ("I think a lot of these kids don't trust anyone") with a didacticism that will be a turnoff to most readers. Ironically, despite the fact that many of the teens included here are involved in helping others like themselves, the book never tells readers how they might participate--or find help themselves. This book aims high but misses its mark. Ages 12-up. (Jan.)
VOYA - Kevin S. Beach
This remarkable and unique collection of interviews and photographs examines the lives of teens in "at risk" situations around the world. Each chapter reveals the despair and struggle in a young person's home life before the intervention of some youth advocacy agency. Professionals from the agencies highlighted provide follow-up stories about the subjects of the narratives, and address the problems of countless other youths in similar circumstances.
Among others, the heart-wrenching stories' subjects include abused boys in South Africa, a troubled girl living on the streets in Denver, a young girl thrust into prostitution in Thailand, and a Native American teen seeking tribal wisdom to combat the lure of alcohol and drugs. Perhaps the most poignant interview is with a young gay man, "Daisy," who learned too late about the hazards of unsafe sex and has contracted AIDS. He teaches other youths about his misfortune and optimistically sets a goal to be alive to greet the new millennium. A postscript reveals his death in 1996.
The photos have as much to declare as the text itself, and together they produce an exceptional documentary about the state of youth advocacy in the world. The book also serves as a lesson to its reader in compassion and courage. While Hear These Voices reveals that there is much wrong with the world, it also shows there is hope in the next generation. Photos.
VOYA Codes: 5Q 3P M J S (Hard to imagine it being better written, Will appeal with pushing, Middle School-defined as grades 6 to 8, Junior High-defined as grades 7 to 9 and Senior High-defined as grades 10 to 12).
Children's Literature - Janet L. Rose
Eighteen young adults from around the world tell the stories of their lives. Among those featured are Daisy who is gay and HIV-positive; Muay, who was rescued from a brothel in Bangkok and is now studying at the New Life Center for girls to learn a trade other than prostitution; Irina, a drug-addcted teenager in the Ukraine; and Phil and Antonio who turned their lives from violence and drugs to mastering techniques of mediation and counseling. Whether it is on the streets of South Africa, the brothels of Thailand, or the war-torn sections of Northern Ireland, their hopes and desires for a better life are universal. These young people struggle to survive, to be accepted in a group, to be of value, and to value themselves. Adults who work with these students also speak out. They provide shelter, education, support, and an environment of caring and respect that have allowed the students a safe place to grow, learn, and find a better way of life. Students can identify with these young adults and their problems, and the message is to not give up. Adults could also gain respect and understanding from these heartfelt confessions.
School Library Journal
Gr 7 Up--Compelling stories of teens at risk around the world. In their own words, these young people recount stories of homelessness, drug addiction, AIDS, alcoholism, rape, physical and emotional abuse, violence, and prejudice--obstacles that have made their passage into adolescence and adulthood heroic. Readers will hear the words of 14-year-old Muay in Thailand, sold by her stepfather when she was 10; "Daisy" in San Francisco, who discovered he was HIV positive; Irina, addicted to opium in Kiev; Ranson, coming to terms with his Lakota heritage and the alcoholism in his community; a group of boys in South Africa fighting to survive on the streets; and other strong voices. The stories are immediate, memorable, and cautionary. In their quest for identity, these young people look for support from friends, community organizations, family, and their own values and spirituality, while commenting on the need for education and social change. Common to all of their struggles is a hope for a better future. Each autobiographical account is coupled with commentary from an adult mentor who worked with the teen through a local-level intervention organization. The book's international scope reinforces the message that the problems confronting these individuals are not isolated. Black-and-white photographs appear throughout. A powerful cry for understanding, empathy, and social change, this book raises issues that are important to societies around the world.--Jennifer A. Fakolt, Denver Public Library