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Friday Night Lights, & There are No Children Here

Two books, Friday Night Lights, by H. G. Bissinger, and There Are No Children Here, by Alex Kotlowitz, both begin in the late 1980s. Both books are also about teenage boys struggling in urban and rural towns of America. Both authors document specific instances of violence which occur in the American communities. The citizens of both cities are greatly affected by the shocking events which occur within their cities as well as by local police forces, schools, and unemployment rates. But the similarities end there. The lives which the football players lead in Odessa, Texas are very different from the lives Pharoah and Lafayette lead in Chicago, Illinois.

The crime is so bad in the Lafayette's home town that he tells writer Kotlowitz that, if he grows up, he wants to be a bus driver. Kotlowitz points out that Lafayette's remark highlights just how tenuous the 10-year-olds life is: most children say "when I grow up," but Lafayette is not sure whether he will live to adulthood (Kotlowitz p. x). The author cites very specific and vivid examples of the violence which Lafayette and his family witness routinely. For instance, on Lafayette's 12th birthday, as he and his cousin Dede were walking to a store, gunfire erupted above their heads. The two children fell to the ground and then crawled home on their hands and knees (Kotlowitz p. 9).

Lafayette has seven brothers and sisters: LaShawn, who sometimes worked as a prostitute to support her drug habit; Paul, who had served time in an Indiana state prison for burglary; Terrence, who had begun selling drugs at age 11 and had been in and out of trouble with the law; Timothy, Tiffanie and Tammie, a set of four-year-old-triplets; and his brother Pharoah. Their mother, LaJoe, hardly saw their father Paul and received welfare to support her eight children (Kotlowitz pp. 13-14). And, during the summer of 1987, when drugs and violence swept through her neighborhood, LaJoe worried const...

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Friday Night Lights, & There are No Children Here. (1969, December 31). In Retrieved 17:10, December 07, 2021, from