The Road Out: A Teacher's Odyssey in Poor America

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University of California Press, Feb 12, 2013 - Social Science - 278 pages
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Can one teacher truly make a difference in her students’ lives when everything is working against them? Can a love for literature and learning save the most vulnerable of youth from a life of poverty? The Road Out is a gripping account of one teacher’s journey of hope and discovery with her students—girls growing up poor in a neighborhood that was once home to white Appalachian workers, and is now a ghetto. Deborah Hicks, set out to give one group of girls something she never had: a first-rate education, and a chance to live their dreams. A contemporary tragedy is brought to life as she leads us deep into the worlds of Adriana, Blair, Mariah, Elizabeth, Shannon, Jessica, and Alicia?seven girls coming of age in poverty.

This is a moving story about girls who have lost their childhoods, but who face the street’s torments with courage and resiliency. “I want out,” says 10-year-old Blair, a tiny but tough girl who is extremely poor and yet deeply imaginative and precocious. Hicks tries to convey to her students a sense of the power of fiction and of sisterhood to get them through the toughest years of adolescence. But by the time they’re sixteen, eight years after the start of the class, the girls are experiencing the collision of their youthful dreams with the pitfalls of growing up in chaotic single-parent families amid the deteriorating cityscape. Yet even as they face disappointments and sometimes despair, these girls cling to their desire for a better future. The author’s own life story—from a poorly educated girl in a small mountain town to a Harvard-educated writer, teacher, and social advocate—infuses this chronicle with a message of hope.
 

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LibraryThing Review

User Review  - Stahl-Ricco - LibraryThing

A look at a literature program that the author created to help at-risk girls in Cincinnati public schools. The book hooked me right away, as one of the girls in the program had a strong attachment to ... Read full review

The Road Out: A Teacher's Odyssey in Poor America

User Review  - Marianne Orme - Book Verdict

Educator Hicks (education, Duke Univ.) relates the intimate story of her experience teaching a literary workshop to young girls in a poor Cincinnati neighborhood. She explores the quotidian question ... Read full review

Contents

Ghost Rose Speaks
17
Blair
18
Ghost Rose
33
Elizabeth
41
Were Sisters
57
Alicia
58
Industrial landscape
70
Girl Talk
79
Jessica
124
A Saturday at the Bookstore
143
Mariah
144
Jessica Finds Jesus and Elizabeth Finds Love
159
Jessica
160
Blair Discovers a Voice
188
At Sixteen
203
Girlhood Interrupted
222

Alicia
80
Adriana
96
Shannon
117
Epilogue
268
Notes
275
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About the author (2013)

Deborah Hicks has written about the lives of children for two decades. She works in the Program in Education at Duke University and directs an educational program for girls in Appalachia.

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