Part ‘EastEnders’, part ‘NYPD Blue’, ‘Random Family’ is compelling and tense. It teems with passion, pain and pleasure, and shows us teen drug dealers with incredible organisational and financial skills, thirteen-year-olds having babies to keep their boyfriends interested, and incarcerated men who find life’s first peace in solitary confinement.
It’s 1985 in the Bronx and teenagers Jessica and Coco are dating drug dealers and getting pregnant. Fifteen years later, they each have five children, Jessica is a grandmother and her drug-dealer boyfriend is serving a life sentence. Welcome to their world.
Adrian Nicole LeBlanc, a prize-winning investigative journalist, has spent a decade accompanying, empathising with and recording the lives of a motley crew of Latinos living in the Bronx.The result is this extraordinary portrait of love, sex and survival, one of the most riveting and highly acclaimed books of the decade.
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‘Remarkable…filled with indelible images and heartbreaking moments. I cannot praise it enough. A towering achievement.’ Telegraph
‘An extraordinary social document which is also a riveting read.’ Observer
‘I always thought the phrase that critics occasionally use – “If you buy just one book this year, make it this one” – quite meaningless until I read “Random Family”.’ Books of the Year, New Statesman
‘A brilliant book. LeBlanc sinks into the world of her subjects, identifying exactly and in intimate detail the successive trials by which they are afflicted.’ Sunday Times
‘This book took ten years to report and it may well stand ten years of reading.’ Editors’ Top Ten Books of the Year, New York Times
‘A startling portrait of how demanding it is to be poor.’ Books of the Year, Economist
‘LeBlanc’s work shines as a monumental work of narrative journalism. Poverty is the oldest story in town, and the trick is to write about it in a way that makes us look at it anew. LeBlanc’s reportage does just that, and shows us exactly what we're missing. Read it and wonder why.’ Scotsman
‘There are more drugs, violence and abuse in chapter one of this chronicle of inner-city women’s lives than most of us will ever experience. Disturbing, complicated and emotional, Adrian Nicole LeBlanc's book will haunt you.’ Marie Claire
‘A fine piece of observational journalism… RANDOM FAMILY has the plot of an action-packed blockbuster, vivid with passion and high crime… Although it concerns one neighbourhood in the Bronx in the 1980s and 1990s, its truths are universal. LeBlanc writes with a novelist's acute empathy for her characters… I always thought the phrase that critics occasionally use – “If you buy just one book this year, make it this one” – quite meaningless until I read RANDOM FAMILY.’ Books of the Year, New Statesman
‘A stunning new glimpse into the sorrow and the pity of America's inner cities.' Elle
'An almost cinematic page-turner' Time Out
‘Perhaps the most intimate chronicle of urban life ever published.' Village Voice
‘The people Adrian Nicole LeBlanc gives us are not so fashionable. She focuses on two Puerto Rican girls: one who has a baby by one man and twins by his brother before she's 19 and then ties up with a heroin kingpin and lives lavishly for a few years before going to prison; and another, who has two babies by the first girl's half brother and three more by three other men but who remains so vital and good-humored she lifts a reader's spirit at every encounter. These women, and the scores of relatives, friends and rivals who orbit them, go nowhere; they return repeatedly to the same ruts. The author seldom judges anything they do; they speak for themselves. And yet they are fascinating. It can be tough to read 400 pages about blight and struggle. But these people are such memorable personalities that you can easily read a short section and after you have put it down for some days you will not have lost track of who they are or what they are up to. This book took 10 years to report and it may well stand 10 years of reading.’ Editors’ Top Ten Books of the Year, New York Times
‘I was gripped from the first paragraph’ Anna Quindlen, USA Today
`Adrian Nicole LeBlanc brings to life a world often resisted. Writing in the tradition of James Agee and Walker Evans, she invites us to see in a new way people whose lives are often despised or dismissed. Random Family reads like a novel. This is a brilliant, original book.' – Carol Gilligan
‘A magnificent tour de force' Vogue
‘The artistry of this frank,. enthralling book lies in the utter simplicity – and careful, subtle selectivity – with which she plainly describes the determining events in what will now be unforgettable lives.' New York Times
‘In the richness, vitality, and visceral power of its prose, Random Family struck me in the same way that Hubert Selby's classic Last Exit to Brooklyn did – with detail-driven force. The stories recounted here, of careening lives and urban struggle, seem both familiar and exotic, for this book reads like a fantastic tale from another world.’ Oscar HijuelosAbout the Author:
Adrian Nicole LeBlanc has written for the New York Times, Esquire, Village Voice and Elle. She was a non-fiction fellow at Radcliffe’s Bunting Institute.
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Book Description Flamingo, 2003. Hardcover. Book Condition: New. Bookseller Inventory # P110007163444