Misplaced: New York City’s Street Kids
By Alexia Lewnes, Xenium Press, $25
No one knows exactly how many homeless young people live in New York, or where they sleep, or what blend of poverty, abusive parents and homophobia drove them there. Freelance journalist Lewnes supplies a heart-wrenching portrait of five of them: a young couple feeding their heroin habit on the Lower East Side, a transgendered foster kid who pays the brutal price for refusing to act straight and a pair of young men scraping by at Port Authority. The book’s considerable power is in its detail, a relentless immersion in the lives of street kids and the often-heartless bureaucracies and nonprofits that fail them.
Settlement Houses Under Siege: The Struggle to Sustain Community Organizations in New York City
By Michael B. Fabricant and Robert Fisher, Columbia University Press, $24.50
This city’s settlement houses have a rich history of working with poor people to solve collective problems. But as government money for social services is cut, it means big changes for the people who staff them. Based on interviews with staff at 10 settlement houses in the city, this book details the frustrations of squeezing more and more from shrinking resources. There’s a wealth of info here-but be warned, the book’s written for academics, and the prose is dense.
Muckraking!: The Journalism That Changed America
Edited by Judith and William Serrin The New Press, $25
From a 1765 decree opposing British taxation to the National Catholic Reporter’s 1985 exposé of priest sex abuse, the 125 excerpts from the annals of American journalism in this stunning collection are a literate crash course in the battles for and against power in a nation still young-and still idealistic enough to turn information into action. Each article-some elegant pieces of literature, others whose beauty lies simply in delivering their incendiary goods to the world-is introduced with brief historical context, and followed by a look at what happened post-publication.