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From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission.

Chicago is an awfully big place to fit into a small book, but Kotlowitz is a master of distillation. The author of There Are No Children Here 0 (1991), a seminal tale of the Chicago projects, Kotlowitz is an omnivorous observer, discerning listener, and unassuming witness to urban life, who is as compassionate as he is curious, as respectful as he is incisive. He portrays Chicago as a place without pretense where "people are taken for who they are, not for what they have or haven't achieved," and consequently he seeks the city's many-faceted soul in the lives of its mavericks. Individuals such as Millie Wortham and Brenda Stephenson, who work for an organization that helps young mothers; artist Milton Reed, "a Diego Rivera of the projects"; and the generous owners of modest yet cherished neighborhood hot spots. Kotlowitz infuses each finely honed and stealthily affecting biographical sketch with captivating insights into Chicago history and culture, clear-eyed testimony to his great affection for this no-nonsense city and his infinite fascination with humankind. --Donna Seaman Copyright 2004 Booklist