Random Family is an astonishing, eye opening, heartbreaking and completely engrossing saga – and all the more so because it's true. Author Adrian Nicole LeBlanc spent decades with two families in the heart of the most notorious neighborhoods in the Bronx through considerable hardships: drugs, prison, abuse and triumphs: romance, children, small victories.
The tough streets have long been a topic of movies and books, but rarely is the focus on the women. Coco and Jessica are sadly typical of their upbringing, one has five kids before she's reached thirty, the other lands in jail after getting unwittingly involved in her boyfriend's drug trade, but both are compelling, if flawed characters who deal with situations most people I?know would not have the strength to.
The world they live in, with both the dazzling thug culture and the prevailing hopelessness is not glamorized, judged, or played up for our sympathies. LeBlanc is exceptionally even and fair with her depictions and wisely keeps herself out of the story. For better or worse, the story of their lives are told with honesty by the people who lived it.
Much like the tenement photographs “How the other half lives” by Jacob Riis,?Random Family offers a glimpse of the often ignored and misunderstood parts of our country.