This is definitely not Good Times
I didn’t realize until I read the afterward that the author of this book put himself right into the middle of the people he portrays lives. He gave them rides to look for houses, he even loaned them small amounts of money at times. He admits that he misses living in the trailer park among them.
This book. I hope more people get it and read it. I’ve been on a “smart book” kick lately and I’ve starred them all pretty highly but this one is just amazing. Desmond knocks it out of the ballpark. You can tell he puts his whole heart into telling these stories.
Now the stories..they are real people: You have to keep reminding yourself of that as you read this book because no one is perfect, they all mess up and the writing is so good that you feel like you are just reading a really good work of fiction.
Set in Milwaukee, he tells the stories of families.
Lamar, who has no legs. Takes in all his “boys” from the neighborhood and they work to help him just try and get ahead.
Scott, a nurse from the trailer park. He gets addicted to drugs and ends up homeless because he can’t see past the addiction and feels so overwhelmed with all that he would have to do in order to just get clean and hopefully get his nursing license back.
Scott had gotten high with Pam and Ned shortly before they received their eviction notice and had moved in a hurry. Scott figured they had gotten what was coming to them. In his old life, before the fall, he might have been more sympathetic. But he had come to view sympathy as a kind of naïveté, a sentiment voiced from a certain distance by the callow middle classes. “They can be compassionate because it’s not their only option,” he said of liberals who didn’t live in trailer parks.
Vanetta, she is waiting on her court case because she and a friend robbed some women at gunpoint because she needs to support her children.
Sherrena and her husband, landlords in the ghetto. They get frustrated with the people they rent to and sometimes try and help but it’s a vicious circle. They feel like the people they try to help just want to take and take. They don’t want to have to spend out the money to fix anything in their properties because why bother? It’s just going to get destroyed again.
Tobin, runs a shabby run down trailer park. He doesn’t have time to listen to excuses. Just give him the money.
Arleen, she had lost her older children to foster care and is struggling to hold on to her remaining two but it seems like the odds are always stacked against this woman. She broke my heart. It seemed like when things would go well for her that it was just a matter of time.
When Jori wanted something most teenagers want, new shoes or a hair product, she would tell him he was selfish or just bad. When Jafaris cried, Arleen sometimes yelled, “Damn, you hardheaded. Dry yo’ face up!” or “Stop it, Jafaris, before I beat yo’ ass! I’m tired of your bitch ass.”
You could only say “I’m sorry, I can’t” so many times before you began to feel worthless, edging closer to the breaking point. So you protected yourself, in a reflexive way, by finding ways to say “No, I won’t. I cannot help you.” So, I will find you unworthy of help.
Larraine, she frustrates the people around her with her inability to manage what little money she does get.
“My aunt Larraine is one of those people who will see some two-hundred-dollar beauty cream that removes her wrinkles and will go and buy it instead of paying her rent.”
To Sammy, Pastor Daryl, and others, Larraine was poor because she threw money away. But the reverse was true. Larraine threw money away because she was poor.
This book gives perspective. We need some changes in welfare reform. Don’t think it couldn’t happen to you either…It made me very appreciative of what I have.
Booksource: Blogging for Books in exchange for review.