Abandoned: America's Lost Youth and the Crisis of Disconnection
Winner of the 2020 Goddard Riverside Stephan Russo Book Prize for Social Justice
A deeply affecting exposé of America's hidden crisis of disconnected youth, in the tradition of Matthew Desmond and Adrian Nicole LeBlanc
For the majority of young adults today, the transition to independence is a time of excitement and possibility. But 4.5 million young people--or a stunning 11.5 percent of youth aged sixteen to twenty-four--experience entry into adulthood as abrupt abandonment, a time of disconnection from school, work, and family. For this growing population of Americans, which includes kids aging out of foster care and those entangled with the justice system, life screeches to a halt when adulthood arrives. Abandoned is the first-ever exploration of this tale of dead ends and broken dreams.
Author Anne Kim skillfully weaves heart-rending stories of young people navigating early adulthood alone, in communities where poverty is endemic and opportunities almost nonexistent. She then describes a growing awareness--including new research from the field of adolescent brain science--that emerging adulthood is just as crucial a developmental period as early childhood, and she profiles an array of unheralded programs that provide young people with the supports they need to achieve self-sufficiency.
A major work of deeply reported narrative nonfiction, Abandoned joins the small shelf of books that change the way we see our society and point to a different path forward.
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About the Author
Anne Kim is a writer, lawyer, and public policy expert with a long career in Washington, DC-based think tanks working in and around Capitol Hill. She is also a contributing editor at Washington Monthly, where she was a senior writer. Her work has appeared in the Washington Post, Governing, TheAtlantic.com, the Wall Street Journal, Democracy, and numerous other publications. She lives in northern Virginia.
Praise for Abandoned
"Perhaps the most compelling group in Kim's book are the teens who have 'aged out' of the foster care system. . . . We may not be able to provide caring parents' but as Kim notes' we can do a better job bolstering schools in poor areas and provide more training' employment and family planning programs."
--The Associated Press
"A remarkably important book. . . . Kim has set the table for a much-needed conversation about a population of young people neglected for far too long."
--Alex Kotlowitz, Washington Monthly
"Kim diagnoses a 'crisis of opportunity' among America's youth in this substantial and cogent analysis of U.S. public policy. . . . Policy makers and social justice advocates will find valuable insights in this sobering' well-sourced examination."
"A quietly powerful nonfiction debut. . . . the author enlivens the text with miniprofiles of beneficiaries of high-impact programs. An outstanding book for policymakers and people who work with adrift young people."
--Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
"In defiance of stereotypes of lazy and unmotivated youth, Kim depicts young people who are eager to break into the workforce but face personal and structural obstacles that sabotage their efforts at every turn... [A] smart, solutions-focused examination of an often-overlooked social crisis."
"This comprehensive overview of the problem of disconnection among young adults in the U.S. offers proven solutions and concrete policy recommendations."
--Shelf Awareness (starred review)