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A Portrait of Boys in the City of Angels the Year Before College

The acclaimed, award-winning author of The Short and Tragic Life of Robert Peace presents a “carefully observed journalistic account [that] widens our view of the modern ‘immigrant experience’” (The New York Times Book Review) as he closely follows four Los Angeles high school boys as they apply to college.

Four teenage boys are high school seniors at two very different schools within the city of Los Angeles, the second largest school district in the nation with nearly 700,000 students. In this “exceptional work of investigative journalism…laced with compassion, insight, and humor” (Publishers Weekly, starred review) Jeff Hobbs stunningly captures the challenges and triumphs of being a young person confronting the future—both their own and the cultures in which they live—in contemporary America.

Blending complex social issues with each individual experience, Hobbs takes us deep inside these boys’ worlds. The foursome includes Carlos, the younger son of undocumented delivery workers, who aims to follow in his older brother’s footsteps and attend an Ivy League college; Tio harbors serious ambitions to become an engineer despite a father who doesn’t believe in him; Jon, devoted member of the academic decathalon team, struggles to put distance between himself and his mother, who is suffocating him with her own expectations; and Owen, raised in a wealthy family, can’t get serious about academics but knows he must.

Including portraits of secondary characters—friends, peers, parents, teachers, and girlfriends—this “uniquely illuminating” (Booklist) masterwork of immersive journalism is destined to ignite conversations about class, race, expectations, cultural divides, and even the concept of fate. Hobbs’s portrayal of these young men is not only revelatory and relevant, but also moving, eloquent, and indelibly powerful.

Photograph by Jay Ar Tabafunda from Filgraphix

Jeff Hobbs graduated with a BA in English language and literature from Yale in 2002, where he was awarded the Willets and Meeker prizes for his writing. He is the author of The Short and Tragic Life of Robert Peace and The Tourists. He lives in Los Angeles with his wife and two children.

"This audio biography focuses on nine teenagers who are in their senior year of high school as they take exams, apply for college, play sports, date, and hang out at burger joints. . . . Most compelling are Tio and Carlos, clever and ambitious boys with big dreams who attend nimo Pat Brown Charter High School in Compton, California. The two boys are beautifully portrayed by Gary Tiedemann and Timothy Andres Pabon. Carlos is undocumented, so he is simultaneously applying for DACA and to Ivy League schools. In contrast, several of the boys come from exceedingly wealthy families and attend Beverly Hills High School. They face very different family expectations."

– AudioFile Magazine

More books from this author: Jeff Hobbs