cover image Abandoned: America’s Lost Youth and the Crisis of Disconnection

Abandoned: America’s Lost Youth and the Crisis of Disconnection

Anne Kim. New Press, $25.99 (256p) ISBN 978-1-62097-500-8

Washington Monthly contributing editor Kim diagnoses a “crisis of opportunity” among America’s youth in this substantial and cogent analysis of U.S. public policy. While affluent parents can afford to pay their children’s college tuition and subsidize their internships and their housing and health-care costs, Kim writes, low-income young adults don’t have the necessary support to make a successful transition into independent adulthood. She quotes a study showing that as many as 4.5 million young people ages 16–24 are neither in school nor working, and argues that millions more are at risk of a “lifetime of accumulated disadvantages.” She places the blame on “vast structural forces” including racism, poverty, failing public schools, “geographic and social isolation,” and inadequacies in the foster care system. Kim stresses the importance of mentorship programs and provides encouraging portraits of federal and local initiatives such as a Texas school district that lowered its dropout rate from 20% to 1%, and profiles young people who have overcome long odds to build stable lives. She presents strong evidence that “emerging adulthood” is a critical developmental period in people’s lives, and persuasively indicts the failures of the child welfare, juvenile justice, and public school systems. Policy makers and social justice advocates will find valuable insights in this sobering, well-sourced examination. (Feb.)