26. Coming of Age in the Other America by Stefanie DeLuca, Susan Clampet-Lambert, and Kathryn Edin
Based on research of a longitudinal study following youth in Baltimore for over a decade this book looks at the things that help raise children out of poverty and into a better life but also the things that pull them back down. It looks at policies that can help elevate families out of poverty and help children rise beyond the circumstances they were born into.
As a Baltimorean I found this book really compelling, but I think it would be interesting for anyone to read. It really made me think about some things in ways I never had before like why teenagers from impoverished backgrounds tend to make decisions that lead to more short term benefits even if they are less good decisions for the long term. One thing that really stood out to me was the fact that a lot of these teenagers wind up in technical schools or community colleges in very specific career oriented programs which they often don’t complete for various reasons and sometimes starting other programs instead sending them into a spiral of debt. Unlike students at traditional universities who can try out different courses and majors and apply those credits to their final degree many times without additional cost or time, students in this career oriented programs walk away with debt and no benefit every time they realize their choice in courses is not for them. I had never thought about it in those terms before and it really opened my eyes to one more way that being poor can be more costly than having money to start with.
I give this a 9 out of 10.