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"This ethnography of the cruel illusion of upward mobility in the context of growing social inequality in America follows marginalized black and Latino youth who are 'playing by the rules.' They avoid drugs, gangs, and teenage parenthood and even apply to college, only to find themselves putting in 'mad hours' at underpaid, insecure, dead-end service sector jobs, scrambling to survive. The contemporary lie of the American dream comes alive in the everyday struggles and splintering hopes of the youths before they even have a chance to transition into adulthood."—Philippe Bourgois, author of In Search of Respect: Selling Crack in El Barrio and coauthor of Righteous Dopefiend"In a sobering and heart-wrenching account, Ranita Ray brilliantly captures the uncertainty and disappointment that prevail in the lives of marginal minority young people. Despite having high ambitions and work ethic – despite internalizing the individualist American success narrative – they suffer dearly and misrecognize the structural barriers that block their upward mobility. Ray masterfully documents their trials and tribulations through weaving family dynamics, school conditions, menial labor, romance, hunger – and more. This powerful book is a must read for anyone wanting an update on the state of young people stuck in the deep mud that is the American class system."—Randol Contreras, author of The Stickup Kids: Race, Drugs, Violence, and the American Dream
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