Reviews: At-Risk


BIO • WRITING • HONORS • AWARDSINTERVIEWS • CONTACTS • EVENTS • NEWS
NOW WE WILL BE HAPPY • AT-RISK • THE LOSS OF ALL LOST THINGS

WINNER OF AN ERIC HOFFER LEGACY AWARD; WINNER OF A FIRST HORIZON AWARD; FINALIST FOR GO ON GIRL! NEW AUTHOR OF THE YEAR AWARD; FINALIST FOR THE DA VINCI EYE AWARD


 

AT-RISK, Winner of the Flannery O’Connor Award for Short Fiction (2011) cover

In Amina Gautier’s Brooklyn, some kids make it and some kids don’t, but not in simple ways or for stereotypical reasons. Gautier’s stories explore the lives of young African Americans who might all be classified as “at-risk,” yet who encounter different opportunities and dangers in their particular neighborhoods and schools and who see life through the lens of different family experiences


“[P]art of what makes At-Risk immensely appealing is the sense that Gautier has captured facets of youth which transcend borders. . . . Despite its title, this is not a debut composed of rapid shocks and dangers, but a quieter accumulation of heartbreaking pressures. Another treasure in the University of Georgia Press’ acclaimed series.”

—Karen Rigby, read more at: ForeWord

“In these always engaging stories, Amina Gautier reminds us that behind the disturbing headlines are vibrant young people whose lives matter immeasurably. Gautier employs unflinching honesty to capture those lives, and she does so with clarity, dignity and genuine insight. At-Risk will break your heart even as it leaves you full of hope. It is a truly lovely book.”
—David Haynes, author of The Full Matilda

“Winner of the Flannery O’Connor Award for Short Fiction, At-Risk (University of Georgia Press) by Amina Gautier is a heartbreaking, eye opening, and endearing collection of stories that focus on African-American children in turmoil. Fathers leave, or if they stay, fall apart—addictions and failure all around them. Mothers ignore, or distance themselves, pushing their own agendas. Brothers and sisters either die in the street or get out by whatever means is necessary. And somewhere in the shadows of these events sit the boys and girls who try to make sense of it all—and try to survive it, unscarred.”
— Richard Thomas, read more at: TheNervousBreakdown.com

“In story after story, Gautier reveals a richer interior life for these characters than familiar stories typically allow. Rather than accepting the old clichés, her stories challenge one stereotype after another, exploring the thoughts, histories, and desires of each character to open that which makes them unique. As the collection’s title suggests, each character is threatened by the internal and external forces that surround him or her. As the stories move us beyond the stereotypes that govern these characters, we’re left to face terrifying questions: can we love these kids enough to save them? Is love enough to do that work?”
— Siân Griffiths, read more at: Iowa Review

“The African-American children and teens in these potent stories are all at risk all of the time. Most readers who pick up this book already know about the dangers that these youths face as residents of a Brooklyn housing project: drug addiction and trafficking, gun violence and teen pregnancy. But most don’t know what it’s like to be them, to live minute to minute and day to day in a perilous setting. How do these youth find friends? How do they see their own neighborhoods and understand themselves in their setting? How are they pulled under from safety and innocence into the dangers that tug at them?”
— Debra Bendis, read more at: The Christianity Century

“If as James Baldwin once said, ‘Love takes off the masks we fear we cannot live without and know we cannot live within,’ then perhaps it’s best to look at Amina Gautier’s debut story collection, At-Risk, as an act of love. Despite the baiting words of a grandfather spoken to his wannabe thug grandson in Gautier’s first story: ‘You want to indulge in stereotypes, I can oblige you,’ readers see quickly enough that Gautier works to complicate conventional views of youth and families in poverty from as many angles as she can.”
— Jill Schepmann, read more at: Silverfish, Vanderbilt University 


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