While I read There Are No Children Here by Alex Kotlowitz, I had literally had to keep reminding myself that these children and all of these people are real. The things that happened to Pharoah and Lafeyette were things that I could never imagine happening, much less at their young age. The young children of Horner would make a few extra dollars “offering to watch people’s cars if they parked on the side streets…. ” This shows the lack of safety present in the children’s lives. They spent their early childhood dodging bullets and joining gangs to, ironically enough, protect them.
They looked up to an infamous head drug dealer named Jimmie Lee. Jimmie Lee’s “very presence and activities ruled their lives. ” At the same time, this criminal had sympathy for residents at Henry Horner and was a respectable person. He showed this by one day telling an abusive father, “you don’t give no kid disrespect. ” To me, it is too bad that the only good role model in these kids’ lives is a drug dealer. The most astounding part of this book is Pharoah’s drive. Lafeyette had similar, but he was very impressionable by the influence older gang members had on him.
This is shown by when Pharoah’s friend, Ricky, suggested they take some videos from a video store. Ricky had a bad reputation and was affiliated with a few gangs. Pharoah told his brother, “let’s leave them, let’s go home,” but Lafeyette stayed and stole tapes with Ricky. Pharoah excelled in school, taking part in the school spelling bee, and trying his best regardless of the embarrassing stammer that only got worse with the troubles of home life. His compassion was also one of the traits I noticed while reading. A good example of this is when his goldfish died.
Pharoah “cried for three hours when he found his pets floating belly up in their bowl the night before. ” The only thing that angered me was LaJoe’s lack of determination. She could tell everyone she was housing in her small, cramped house that there wasn’t room for her children’s sake. While it is nice and compassionate, she had to put her family first. Exposing your children to hospitality could be good, but it could also be very dangerous. LaJoe possibly doesn’t see opportunities she has to leave Horner, or even get her children out of there.
This had me frustrated throughout the novel because of her willingness to complain and let all of these horrible things happen to her family and herself but not leave. Her son, Lafeyette, even expressed his desire to live a better life and get out of Horner. Sometimes, “he would get angry at his mother for not trying harder. ” Unfortunately, my least favorite character was Lafeyette. Possibly, because he was so guarded from everyone. The most compassionate he had been is when he was with his mother. He would beg her to let him help clean when his mother was stressed.
He would stay up late to console her in hard times, especially when their federal aid was cut off. Lafeyette even encouraged his mother to put out his father and older sister, telling her to “stop being so weak-hearted. ” All-in-all, I feel like through the frustration of disagreement this book was amazingly written. As previously stated, I was constantly in amazement that these children’s struggles were real and not fiction, as I kept thinking. The intimacy of witnessing this family’s life gives you a great appreciation for what you have.