An American Summer

An American Summer

Love and Death in Chicago

Book - 2019 | First edition
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"The numbers are staggering: Over the past twenty years in Chicago, 14,033 people have been killed and another roughly 60,000 wounded by gunfire. What does that do to the spirit of individuals and communities? Drawing on his decades of experience, Alex Kotlowitz set out to chronicle one summer in the city, writing of those who have emerged from the violence and whose stories reveal the capacity--and the breaking point--of the human heart and soul. The result is a spellbinding collection of deeply intimate stories that upend what we think we know about gun violence in America. Among others, we meet a man who as a teenager killed a rival gang member and who, twenty years later, is still trying to come to terms with what he did; a devoted school social worker smuggling with her favorite student, who refuses to give evidence in the shooting death of his best friend; the witness to a wrongful police shooting who can't shake what he has seen; and an aging former gang leader who builds a place of refuge for himself and his friends. Applying the close-up, empathic reporting that made There Are No Children Here a modern classic, Kotlowitz offers a tenderhearted yet piercingly honest testament to the strength of the human spirit. These sketches of those left standing will get in your bones. This one summer will stay with you."--Dust jacket.
Publisher: New York : Nan A. Talese/Doubleday, [2019]
Edition: First edition
Copyright Date: ©2019
ISBN: 9780385538800
Branch Call Number: 364.1508350977311 KOT 2019
Characteristics: x, 287 pages ; 25 cm


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Jul 14, 2019

“I love this city but it can be tiring”. I’ve always been proud to say that I was born and raised in Chicago. But lately, my city has become synonymous with sky rocketing gun violence especially in the summer. I’m not sure if it's me getting older and I’m starting to pay attention or if the recent economic cutbacks and segregation are contributing. Maybe a little bit of both.
An American Summer introduces different Chicago residents as they tell their stories about how they have been affected by gun violence. You meet former gangbangers and drug dealers trying to redeem themselves, grieving mothers trying to find purpose after losing a child, social workers trying to protect their students from the physical and psychological effects of the constant violence and death, witnesses to shootings that are terrified to come forward with their testimony, victims that were shot and killed by CPD officers, and politicians trying to figure out the best approach: get rid of the gangs or invest in the community?
This book was eye opening and emotional. I found myself Googling names and putting a face to the story. Those stories were the most heartbreaking of all. Overall though, I highly recommend this book especially to Chicagoans.

May 08, 2019

A sobering read. It's difficult to recommend, simply because the subject matter is so troubling, yet it seems necessary. When viewing statistics it can be easy to have a sense of detachment, but these stories remind us of the lives behind those numbers. There are glimpses of hope, but no real solutions are offered-- that doesn't seem to be Kotlowitz's point. All in all a very effective, albeit troubling, view of what happens to the human mind, body, and spirit when surrounded by violence.

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