Dirty Kids: Chasing Freedom with America’s Nomads

Chris Urquhart, photos by Kitra Cahana. Greystone (PGW, U.S. dist.; UTP, Canadian dist.), $21.95 trade paper (216p) ISBN 978-1-77164-304-7
For her fascinating debut, Canadian journalist Urquhart spent three years documenting the lives of teenage runaways who traverse America as part of a freewheeling counterculture. Urquhart’s warts-and-all book vividly captures a subculture that rejects the materialist trappings of capitalist society in favor of a rootless communalism characterized by poverty and a devotion to spirituality and self-sovereignty. Urquhart began her cross-country trek at the 2009 Gathering of the Rainbow Family in New Mexico. Tens of thousands of rootless “Rainbows” have amassed at these events every July 4 since 1972 to live communally in forests and pray for world peace. Broken homes force some of the “dirty kids” into nomadism. Others, such as the punks Urquhart meets in Michigan, choose nomadism out of an anarchist, anticapitalist ethos. The nomads’ existence is no utopia. Urquhart hears women’s accounts of being sexually abused by men at Rainbow gatherings or by transients on the road. Others battle drug addiction and other mental illnesses. The rovers nonetheless seek an alternative society united by “the pursuit of sovereignty outside of established channels.” Urquhart and photographer Cahana take readers on a revealing journey outside the bounds of mainstream America. Photos. (Sept.)
Reviewed on: 11/20/2017
Release date: 09/01/2017
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