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Fixed on Fiction

Ghettoside by Jill Leovy

In November, Fixed on Fiction met to discuss Ghettoside: A True Story of Murder in America by Jill Leovy-

On a warm spring evening in South Los Angeles, a young man was shot and killed on a sidewalk minutes away from his home, one of hundreds of young men slain in LA every year. His assailant ran down the street, jumped into an SUV, and vanished, hoping to join the vast majority of killers in American cities who are never arrested for their crimes. But as soon as the case was assigned to Detective John Skaggs, the odds shifted. Here is the kaleidoscopic story of the quintessential American murder--one young black man slaying another--and a determined crew of detectives whose creed was to pursue justice at all costs for its forgotten victims. Ghettoside is a fast-paced narrative of a devastating crime, an intimate portrait of detectives and a community bonded in tragedy, and a surprising new lens into the great subject of murder in America--why it happens and how the plague of killings might yet be stopped.

Summary courtesy of Goodreads.

Our non-fiction selection received favorable reviews in our group. Everyone gave it a thumbs up.  Here are some of comments readers made while discussing their reaction to this month’s selection:

  • I wouldn’t have picked this up myself, so I was glad to have the opportunity to read it with book group. It certainly made you view police work differently. I hadn’t considered all of the financial stress involved- like overtime pay.
  • It’s a story that needs to be told…and a heartbreaking one for the families that don’t get justice.
  • I learned that there’s a balance between preventative and responsive measures. Also, that gangs are a consequence of lawlessness, not a cause.
  • This started out as a so-so read for me but then evolved into a thumbs up. It just dragged a bit in the beginning (historical context, data).

We also spoke at length about the importance of reading about people whose circumstances are different from your own as that creates empathy. We discussed how shocking it was that these homicides didn’t get news coverage and how these tragedies reminded us of the crime in Chicago. One group member looked up the average closing percentage for homicides per year and we lamented the low number.

These are simply some of the highlights from our discussion. Feel free to leave additional thoughts on Ghettoside in the comments section below.


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