When a Heart Turns Rock Solid by Timothy Black
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Synopsis

A WASHINGTON POST BEST BOOK OF THE YEAR

This provocative and compelling book examines how jobs, schools, the streets, and prisons have shaped the lives and choices of a generation of Puerto Rican youth at the turn of the twenty-first century.

At the center of this riveting account–based on an unprecedented eighteen-year study–are three engaging, streetwise brothers from Springfield, Massachusetts: Fausto, incarcerated for seven years and in and out of drug treatment, an insightful and sensitive street warrior playing on the edges of self-destruction; Julio, the family patriarch, a former gang member turned truck driver, fiercely loyal to his family and friends; and Sammy, a street maven, recovering drug addict, father of four, straddling two realms–the everyday world of low-wage work and the allure of the drug economy–as he shuttles between recovery and relapse.

Timothy Black spent years with the brothers and their parents, wives and girlfriends, extended family, coworkers, criminal partners, friends, teachers, lawyers, and case workers. He closely observed street life in Springfield, including the drug trade; schools and GED programs; courtrooms, prisons, and drug treatment programs; and the young men’s struggle for employment both on and off the books. The brothers, articulate and determined, speak for themselves, providing powerful testimony to the exigencies of life lived on the social and economic margins. The result is a singularly detailed and empathetic portrait of men who are often regarded with fear or simply rendered invisible by society.

With profound lessons regarding the intersection of social forces and individual choices, Black succeeds in putting a human face on some of the most important public policy issues of our time.


From the Trade Paperback edition.
 

About Timothy Black

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TIMOTHY BLACK is an associate professor of sociology at the University of Hartford, where he directs the Center for Social Research. He lives in Hartford, Connecticut.
 
Published July 28, 2009 by Vintage. 464 pages
Genres: Political & Social Sciences. Non-fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for When a Heart Turns Rock Solid

Kirkus Reviews

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Springfield was then the center of the drug trade for western Massachusetts, and Sammy was the first of the Rivera brothers to become involved in it.

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Publishers Weekly

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Employing a “sociological storytelling” method, Black, associate professor of sociology at the University of Hartford, recounts the lives of three Puerto Rican brothers living in poor, gang-dominated Springfield, Mass., whom he befriended and followed for 18 years.

May 25 2009 | Read Full Review of When a Heart Turns Rock Solid...

The Washington Post

Border-related and immigration-themed books seem to fall into a few ironclad categories.

Dec 20 2009 | Read Full Review of When a Heart Turns Rock Solid...

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