Muslim, Satmar Jewish, Amish, and Conservative Christian communities are profiled in this title about living and growing in religious neighborhoods. Muslims are a tiny but growing minority in the United States. After September 11, Muslim students felt especially threatened. Christians of various denominations form around three-fourths of the religious community, but "fell 10.2 [percent] from 1990 to 2008." The text states, "Studies have shown that children in religious families are often more well-adjusted and better behaved than children in families where religion does not play a large role." Dr. Erika Chopin believes that "children need to know that there is something greater than themselves, and that religion teaches them self-discipline, empathy, and humility as well." Teens in minority communities are torn between loyalty to their community and fitting in to the larger culture. As adults, some choose to stay in their community and some choose to leave. The text is interrupted by relevant newspaper stories. Sidebars explain many words such as imperialism and ethnicities, and questions at the end of each chapter encourage thought. Lists of books and Web sites for further information, a bibliography, and an index are included. For this entry of "The Changing Face of Modern Families" series, Gallup is the source for the data. Growing up in a minority religious community is both helpful and a challenge. Reviewer: Carlee Hallman
- Paula McMillen
Homosexuality and gay/lesbian parenting are controversial topics to present to youngsters. So it is absolutely essential to use the best evidence, clearly presented, and explicitly documented. Although this entry in "The Changing Face of Modern Families" series provides a positive take on this alternative family constellation, it often fails on these criteria. Fields, a pseudonym for a columnist with the Gannett publishing company, offers a book that reads more like a newspaper report than a high quality nonfiction book for this age range. Although several psychological and sociological studies are mentioned in the text, they are not cited in the bibliography. The only sources cited are newspaper articles and trade publications. There are confusing data offered on the number of children being raised by gay and lesbian parents, put at ten million in Chapter 1 (p. 8) and over 65,000 later in the book (p. 30, 35). These huge differences may be due to including biological children in the earlier statistic and only adopted children in the latter, but the author is not clear in making this distinction. Several references to the "latest U.S. Census" might also mislead readers since new data was collected this year (2010) but is not yet available. The data being drawn on are from 2000—ten years old; this should be indicated clearly as there is emphasis in the book on the rapidly changing sociopolitical factors surrounding these issues. The production of the book itself is reasonably well-done with highlighted boxes on almost every page containing definitions, factual statements, or excerpts from newspapers, trade or advocacy publications. Personalized stories and pictures are affirming. Further readings, reputable web sites, and an index are provided. Reviewer: Paula McMillen, Ph.D.