Why Do Only White People Get Abducted by Aliens: Teaching Lessons from the Bronx

Ilana Garon, Author
Ilana Garon. Skyhorse (Norton, dist.), $24.95 (192p) ISBN 978-1-62636-113-3
Reviewed on: 08/19/2013
Release date: 09/01/2013
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Part memoir and part sociology study on the lives of teenagers, Garon reflects on her first four years teaching at a public high school in the Bronx. The title is taken from a student's suggestion for a research topic. Amidst her Garon finds herself sobering up a smart but troubled student when he comes to class drunk, helping a young girl in an abusive co-dependent relationship, and grappling with the "polite way to ask someone if they are in a gang." She profiles the troublemakers like the arrogant Kayron who alternates between tormenting and admiring Garon, along with the hard-luck cases like Felicia, a tremendously smart and wildly charismatic student who is self-mutilating. Then there are the more uplifting stories like Callum, the bright but apathetic student Garon forms a strong bond with, staying in touch through his college years and helping him find work as a journalist. As Garon writes in her introduction, this book is not about the "myth of the ‘hero teacher'" changing the lives of inner city kids, though she does do that, nor is it "a scathing indictment" of the education system. It is that refreshing lack of agenda and Garon's self-awareness that makes this book charming and raw in its honesty. (Sept.)
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