Book 41

41. On the Outside Looking In: A Year at an Inner City High School by Christina Rathbone
This book like many others of it kind chronicles the lives of students at a “failing” inner city high school for a year. This particular documentation takes place at West Side High School in Manhatten in the mid-90’s. It was an okay book. Of course the stories of the kids are heartbreaking and those that overcome their many barriers to education are nothing but awe inspiring. The school itself is considered failing because of test scores and in constant flux due to budget cuts and other various reasons that keep moving their location (at the time the book was written the school was located on 2 non-adjoining floors of an office building). But somehow the writing didn’t strike me as similar books have such as those written by Jonathan Kozol or the book And Still We Rise by Miles Corwin. So I give it a 7 out of 10.

Book 40

40. Alice Walker: A Life by Evelyn C. White
I wanted to read this book because a few months back I read the memoir Black, White, and Jewish written by Alice Walker’s daughter Rebecca. I have also really enjoyed all the books I have read by Alice Walker. So I decided I would be interested in reading her biography to get another prospective of her life other than the one her daughter presented. This book turned out not to be what I was expecting or hoping for. Partly I think I was hoping for more of a memoir with a first person point of view rather than a biography. I found it weird because it seemed like the author spoke to many people who had been in contact with Alice including her family, but never spoke with Alice herself. In addition, the book seemed to turn into more of a literary criticism than a biography. I really wanted to know about her actual life as opposed to what people were saying about her writings. Plus the book was published in 2004 so you would think that it would follow Alice up until almost present day, but really the main story stops after the hoopla of the Color Purple being made into a movie. There’s basically one chapter at the end to cover the almost 20 years from that time until the book was written. It seemed very unbalanced to me. This book gets only a 6 out of 10.