Ghetto Klown by John Leguizamo

This post contains an affiliate link.

Title: Ghetto Klown by John Leguizamo

Premise:

This is an autobiographical graphic novel about John Leguizamo’s life–from his childhood through the present day.  It includes episodes from his stormy childhood days, through his varied and colorful acting career, to his marriage and family.

My thoughts:

My favorite role of John’s was as Chi-Chi Rodriguez in To Wong Foo, Thanks for Everything!  So when I saw that the library had this graphic novel about his life, I had to get it.  I was totally unprepared for what I found when I cracked it open!  It’s not for the faint of heart or those who don’t like painful honesty and plenty of potty-mouth language.

Objectionable parts aside, I really enjoyed the book.  It took me a little while to come to that conclusion, though.  After I got to the last page and closed it, I felt like I had gone through some sort of traumatic life experience and needed some time to recover and process what I had just read.  John’s life was pretty intense (often not in a good way), yet in this story he shares his heart and motivation with us.  I’m sure this was a cathartic endeavor for him–a chance to examine his life, come to terms with all of its stages, and accept it for what it is.  Without his past he wouldn’t be who he is today.  As someone who likes getting inside other peoples’ heads, this was a satisfying read for me.  It makes me thankful for my relatively uneventful (and peaceful) life.

I recommend Ghetto Klown to adults who enjoy autobiographies told in a unique way.  Just be prepared for a lot of crudeness and bad language.

Possible Objections:

  • Lots of bad language
  • Cartoon nudity
  • Sexual references & language
  • Drug use
  • Some violence
  • A few racial slurs

Rating: 4 Stars

Until next time…

Lori

Advertisements

Kingdom Works: True Stories about God and His People in Inner City America by Bart Campolo

kingdom-works

This post contain an affiliate link.

Kingdom Works is another social justice book which I read some time ago.  For those of you interested in that subject, this book is full of anecdotal stories from an inner-city Christian ministry director.

Premise:

This is a collection of stories from Bart Campolo, the leader of a volunteer organization called Mission Year.  Mission Year brings young people into the inner city to live together in community with other young Christians, to partner with local churches, and to minister in their communities.  All of the stories come out of that setting.  It isn’t meant to be a textbook on how to do ministry, nor does it outline deep spiritual insights that can be learned from each story.

My thoughts:

I enjoyed reading this book, though there are parts that are uncomfortable to read.  When it isn’t just a made up story, but the heartache experienced by real people, it can be difficult to look at.  Our natural inclination is to turn away.  Each of the stories, whether things turned out good, bad or somewhere in between, has insights to offer and will broaden your thinking.  That is where the value lies in this book–it makes you think and it challenges your preconceived ideas.  Most stories leave you with more questions than you started with and wondering about theological issues and how they relate to the problems shared.

A couple of favorite quotes:

In speaking of the type of ministry that Mission Year engages in, Bart said, “This is not a high-powered evangelism ministry.  There are plenty of those already.  This is a settle-down-and-love-your-neighbor ministry, where the evangelism has to come naturally if it comes at all.” (p.31)

“In that awful moment I realized for the first time that out there in the real world the choices are not always between right and wrong, but sometimes between bad and worse.” (p. 53)

I would recommend this book for adults and possibly high schoolers, depending on their maturity level.  Many of the stories talk about things like drinking, drugs, sex, and violence.

Possible Objections:

  • Some violence
  • Sexual themes
  • Drug references

Rating: 4 Stars

Until next time…

Lori

Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City by Matthew Desmond

This post contains affiliate links.

Evicted was recommended to me by my husband and a friend who had both heard about it on the radio.  They know that I’m interested in social justice issues and thought it would be right up my alley.  Guess what?  They were right!

Premise:

Matthew Desmond wanted to do some field research about eviction and the way that it affects the lives of poor people.  He settled on the city of Milwaukee as a good middle-of-the-ground sample city.  Matthew lived in the inner city for a good chunk of time and did field research, took notes, recorded audio, conducted interviews and surveys, shadowed people, and looked at the work of other researchers.  In this book he shares his findings and gives readers a front row look at how eviction has affected real people.

My thoughts:

This book was utterly fascinating.  I loved it!  I had no idea that eviction could affect so many areas of a person’s life–school and work attendance, job stability, increased costs (for storage, etc.), wasted time (looking for new housing and jobs), stress, depression, and the list goes on.  I feel like I’ve gained some great insight into one of the major problems in our large cities throughout the United States.

I found that I became quite attached to the people in this book, even those who were struggling with their own demons.  It was hard to see them trying so hard to overcome adverse circumstances and just get sucked down into the mire again.  There was one character, however, who really made me mad.  I thought the landlady was despicable in how she treated her tenants and I really wanted to ream her out.

The format of the book is highly readable.  Desmond does a great job of balancing real-life stories, his own observations, and facts gleaned from his research.

I highly recommend this book to adults and anyone who is interested in social justice issues.  It’s not really appropriate for the younger crowd because the quotes from real people contain quite a bit of bad language.

Possible Objections:

  • Bad language
  • A bit of violence

Rating: 5 Stars

Until next time…

Lori