In Amina Gautier's Brooklyn, some kids make it and some kids don't, but not in simple ways or for stereotypical reasons. Gautier's stories explore the lives of young African Americans who might all be classified as "at-risk," yet who encounter different opportunities and dangers in their particular neighborhoods and schools and who see life through the lens of different family experiences.
Gautier's focus is on quiet daily moments, even in extraordinary lives; her characters do not stand as emblems of a subculture but live and breathe as people. In "The Ease of Living," the young teen Jason is sent down south to spend the summer with his grandfather after witnessing the double murder of his two best friends, and he is not happy about it. A season of sneaking into as many movies as possible on one ticket or dunking girls at the pool promises to turn into a summer of shower chairs and the smell of Ben-Gay in the unimaginably backwoods town of Tallahassee. In "Pan Is Dead," two half-siblings watch as the heroin-addicted father of the older one works his way back into their mother's life; in "Dance for Me," a girl on scholarship at a posh Manhattan school teaches white girls to dance in the bathroom in order to be invited to a party.
As teenagers in complicated circumstances, each of Gautier's characters is pushed in many directions. To succeed may entail unforgiveable compro-mises, and to follow their desires may lead to catastrophe. Yet within these stories they exist and can be seen as they are, in the moment of choosing.
Praise For At-Risk…
"In this wonderful collection Amina Gautier writes with exhilarating insight and confidence about the lives of teenagers who are indeed at risk from themselves, their families and their friends. These are urgent and important stories."—Margot Livesey, author of The House on Fortune Street and Eva Moves The Furniture
"In these always engaging stories, Amina Gautier reminds us that behind the disturbing headlines are vibrant young people whose lives matter immeasurably. Gautier employs unflinching honesty to capture those lives, and she does so with clarity, dignity and genuine insight. At-Risk will break your heart even as it leaves you full of hope. It is a truly lovely book."—David Haynes, author of The Full Matilda
"[P]art of what makes At-Risk immensely appealing is the sense that Gautier has captured facets of youth which transcend borders. . . . Despite its title, this is not a debut composed of rapid shocks and dangers, but a quieter accumulation of heartbreaking pressures. Another treasure in the University of Georgia Press' acclaimed series."—Karen Rigby, ForeWord
University of Georgia Press, 9780820338880, 154pp.
Publication Date: September 15, 2011