The Pact: Three Young Men Make a Promise and Fulfill a Dream

The Pact: Three Young Men Make a Promise and Fulfill a Dream

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Prentice Hall


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The Pact: Three Young Men Make a Promise and Fulfill a Dream

We often hear about the dangers of male friendships in which peer pressure prevails over common sense. But for the authors, it was a powerful antidote to the pitfalls of street life in Newark, New Jersey. They made a vow to be there for one another, to encourage each other every step of the way, until they overcame the odds and became doctors. In The Pact, they share the story of their struggle to keep the pledge they made -- a pledge that ultimately led to success they could barely imagine.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780132393492
Publisher: Prentice Hall
Publication date: 08/14/2006
Pages: 272
Product dimensions: 5.15(w) x 8.00(h) x 0.65(d)

Read an Excerpt


WE TREAT THEM in our hospitals every day.

They are young brothers, often drug dealers, gang members, or small-time criminals, who show up shot, stabbed, or beaten after a hustle gone bad. To some of our medical colleagues, they are just nameless thugs, perpetuating crime and death in neighborhoods that have seen far too much of those things. But when we look into their faces, we see ourselves as teenagers, we see our friends, we see what we easily could have become as young adults. And we're reminded of the thin line that separates us-three twenty-nine-year-old doctors (an emergency-room physician, an internist, and a dentist)-from these patients whose lives are filled with danger and desperation.

We grew up in poor, broken homes in New Jersey neighborhoods riddled with crime, drugs, and death, and came of age in the 1980s at the height of a crack epidemic that ravaged communities like ours throughout the nation. There were no doctors or lawyers walking the streets of our communities. Where we lived, hustlers reigned, and it was easy to follow their example. Two of us landed in juvenile-detention centers before our eighteenth birthdays. But inspired early by caring and imaginative role models, one of us in childhood latched on to a dream of becoming a dentist, steered clear of trouble, and in his senior year of high school persuaded his two best friends to apply to a college program for minority students interested in becoming doctors. We knew we'd never survive if we went after it alone. And so we made a pact: we'd help one another through, no matter what.

In college, the three of us stuck together to survive and thrive in a world that was different from anything we had ever known. We provided one another with a kind of positive peer pressure. From the moment we made our pact, the competition was on. When one of us finished his college application, the other two rushed to send theirs out. When we participated in a six-week remedial program at Seton Hall University the summer before our freshman year, each of us felt pressured to perform well because we knew our friends would excel and we didn't want to embarrass ourselves or lag behind. When one of us made an A on a test, the others strived to make A's, too.

We studied together. We worked summer jobs together. We partied together. And we learned to solve our problems together. We are doctors today because of the positive influences that we had on one another.

The lives of most impressionable young people are defined by their friends, whether they are black, white, Hispanic, or Asian; whether they are rich, poor, or middle-class; whether they live in the city, the suburbs, or the country. Among boys, particularly, there seems to be some macho code that says to gain respect, you have to prove that you're bad. We know firsthand that the wrong friends can lead you to trouble. But even more, they can tear down hopes, dreams, and possibilities. We know, too, that the right friends inspire you, pull you through, rise with you.

Each of us experienced friendships that could have destroyed our lives. We suspect that many of the young brothers we treat every day in our hospitals are entangled in such friendships-friendships that require them to prove their toughness and manhood daily, even at the risk of losing their own lives. The three of us were blessed. We found in one another a friendship that works in a powerful way; a friendship that helped three vulnerable boys grow into successful men; a friendship that ultimately helped save our lives.

But it wasn't always easy. There were times when one of us was ready to give up, and times when we made bad decisions. Some of that is ugly and difficult to admit, and we suffered pain and other consequences. But we have laid it all out here nonetheless.

We did this because we hope that our story will inspire others, so that even those young people who feel trapped by their circumstances, or pulled by peer pressure in the wrong directions, might look for a way out not through drugs, alcohol, crime, or dares but through the power of friendship. And within our story are many others, of mentors, friends, relatives, and even strangers we met along the way, whose goodwill and good deeds made a difference in our lives. We hope our story will also demonstrate that anyone with enough compassion has the power to transform and redirect someone else's troubled life.

If we have succeeded at all in helping to turn even a single life around or in opening a window of hope, then this book was well worth our effort.

Table of Contents

1.Dreaming Big15
4.Common Ground87
6.A Big Break123
George on Peer Pressure147
8.Summer Odyssey152
9.Earth Angel165
10.A Different World178
Rameck on Giving Back198
13.Access Med224
14.Old Ties243
16.Becoming Doctors274
Sam on Perseverance294
19.Home Again317

What People are Saying About This

From the Publisher

"This is truly a life-changing book, one that shows that anything is possible...with a little help from our friends."—James McBride, author of The Color of Water and Miracle at St. Anna

"A powerful message of hope."—Dallas Morning News

"Gripping, courageous, and inspiring."—Philadelphia Inquirer

"After you've read it, pass it on...The Pact is a book that should never end up on a shelf because it is probably the most important book for African-American families that has been written since the protest era...Besides their personal stories, the doctors share practical steps that can be useful to a circle of friends in making their own pact...Get The Pact. It just may change a teen's future."—Chicago Sun-Times

"They are an inspiration to young people everywhere, and their message is one that can transform the world."—Billy Cosby


Great book! — Frank Rich, NY Times

Bill Cosby

They are an inspiration to young people everywhere, and their message is one that can transform the world.

Customer Reviews

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Pact 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 12 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
this book was really incredible it was as the discription says a story of perseverence and the will to better off their condition great great book loved it
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
very inspirational, it touched me in a great way. the stories come to life as you read it, i recommend this book for every growing teenager; male or female
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
ReadingGalNJ More than 1 year ago
While I'm often a sucker for a love story this beautifully demonstrates the love of friends & more importantly the love parents hold for their children. Great suspense & the emotion roller coaster a good book can strap you in to & make you want to ride again.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Guest More than 1 year ago
the pact was a book that inspired me to do better in school and persued my showed me that there is more to life than the street and those who you consider your allowed me to see that being in the street and following the worng person isnt the best waii to happiness and yet it would get you into lots of trouble.i personally felt like i was one of the characters myself and i was happy to see how they succeed and so can i. i would have loved to met them myself and thank them so making such and inspirational book.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I have a friend who hates reading. I left the book at her house 'after I finished it of course' and one day she was so bored so she picked it up and read it. She loved it so much that she wanted another book. After 24 years this book finally turned her on to reading. That said, you can only imagine how good this book is. Also, I hate love stories. This is not a typical love story. I loved this book.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I was so impressed by the strong storytelling as well as by the story itself. These men are amazing role models for all young people - not just minorities. I am getting a set for my classroom and including it in the curriculum for my multicultural class. It reminds me of the saying 'Inspiration is 99% perspiration.'
Guest More than 1 year ago
The Pact is a story of three young men making a promise to themselves and each other to escape the troubles of their hometown of Newark. Sam, George, and Rameck were young men who had a dream to get out of the ghetto and do something with their lives. From a young age they all were surrounded by the temptations of the dealing drugs for money and the dangers of being hurt everyday by the people around them. With families that weren't always capable of taking care of them they still set high goals for themselves to become doctors. Their families were poor, not there, or even had drug addictions, but they still worked through that. It's an inspirational story, appealing to all young people that there is always hope to succeed if you work your hardest. Growing up in such a rough environment made them realize from a young age what they would have to do to survive. They understood that if they stayed in the ghetto they would most likely end up living poor or being killed. As teenagers they applied themselves and were able to all get into schools for the gifted children. Making ends meet and working their hardest they set an example of how you aren't a product of your environment but a person with free will. This book made me understand what kind of hardships that other people go through just to make it by on a daily basis. To hear the story of these men helps create a vivid image of what many people lived in their childhood and what people live in now. Sam, George and Rameck are men that give hope to the children who thought they had no way of ever getting out of the ghetto and being their own person. It shows that the American Dream can become a reality to anyone who chooses to wake up and create it themselves. I highly recommend this book it was very easy to read and kept me interested throughout the whole novel. If you don't read it I suggest that you still try to understand that you can always achieve what your mind perceives.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book is full of inspiration and also full of determination,it was great.
courtneyHG More than 1 year ago
Posted April 8,2009 9:20 AM EST: Jodi Picoult can really make a teenager depressed! This book made me feel upset because the main characters, Emily and Chris, were really close and one of them ends up dead. I was left wondering about a few things and wishing that it ended with more definite answers. When you finish the novel you feel you're missing details of the actual scene of the crime. You wouldn't think this would happen to two families that seem to have had such perfect lives. Throughout the whole novel about solving the mystery and it kept me wanting to turn the pages to see if Chris ends up being guilty. I felt so sorry for both Emily and Chris because Emily ids dead and Chris, who loved her, was accused of the murder.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I read this book over the weekend and it moved me to action to share the book and get involved with young men in my community. The story is an easy read that draws you into their lives, struggles to stay on track and successes. I cried, laughed and rejoiced with each of them. Thank you to the 3 doctors for sharing your story.