Show Them You’re Good: A Portrait of Boys in the City of Angels the Year Before College

Jeff Hobbs. Scribner, $28 (336p) ISBN 978-1-9821-1633-0
Hobbs (The Short and Tragic Life of Robert Peace) tracks four L.A. high school seniors through the 2016–2017 school year in this exceptional work of investigative journalism. His subjects include charter school classmates Tio, a class leader with high expectations for college, and Carlos, an undocumented immigrant simultaneously applying to Ivy League universities and the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program. Meanwhile, Owen, whose privileged background hides his struggles with acceptance, and Sam, the son of a Chinese woman and a Jewish-American man, attend wealthy Beverley Hills High School. Hobbs follows the boys through adolescent rituals—exams and AP classes, prom, extracurricular activities, “the timeless conundrum” of whether or not to stay with their high school girlfriends—as well as more personal issues, including Tio’s father’s alcoholism, the impact of Owen’s mother’s debilitating illness on her family, and the threat of deportation hanging over Carlos’s parents. The juxtaposition of the boys’ vivid voices and personalities with Hobbs’s sociological perspective makes for a stirring examination of life in L.A., the country’s political landscape, the flaws of the American higher education system, and the rites of passage from boyhood into manhood. Laced with compassion, insight, and humor, this appealing study deserves a wide readership. (Aug.)
Reviewed on : 02/05/2020
Release date: 04/07/2020
Genre: Nonfiction
Downloadable Audio - 978-1-7971-0362-4
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