Adrian Nicole LeBlanc has pulled off the ultimate feat in fly-on-the-wall writing. Her presence in the lives of those she has so studiously documented seems almost invisible. She writes about the lives of Coco & Cesar - a modern Romeo and Juliet perhaps, with all the same passion and self-destruction. Also the beautiful Jessica: a symbol of potential not-realised. The research, consideration, love and honesty that has gone into this book astounds me. I wept on the tube, on more than one occasion. Yet it is not a depressing book: it is uplifting, if anything. It shows how people in the worst situations can make the most of their bad lots. It shows the dark underbelly of American life, and it shows that this belly rumbles with passion, affection, hard-graft and love, as well as trauma, hate, and poverty so ingrained that the characters can imagine little less in their lives. Serena, Jessica's daughter, gets a limo-ride for her 18th birthday. She drives round their block, not knowing where else to go. New York hasn't been done this well since Tom Wolfe wrote 'Bonfire of the Vanities', and this ain't fiction. Buy it.
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