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Our Kids: The American Dream in Crisis

Cover: 'Our Kids: The American Dream in Crisis '

Staff Review: "Our Kids: The American Dream in Crisis " by Robert D. Putnam


Americans like to believe that anyone, regardless of background, has the opportunity for a fair start in life through education and hard work. This book explores the “opportunity gap” that exists between children of “working- class” parents (defined as those with whose education did not go beyond high school) and children of “upper-middle-class” parents (defined as those who have a degree from a four-year-college). Through a combination of interviews with young adults of different races and (when possible) their parents from five cities across the US and an analysis of data from related quantitative research, Putnam explores this emerging gap. He also examines the factors and policies that likely contributed to the opportunity gap and presents options for improving social mobility. I appreciated the personal stories that were integrated into the discussion of this topic since they put statistics and trends into a more relatable context. It caused me to reflect upon my own childhood and upbringing and to consider how my experiences fit into the trends Putnam described. I also liked the fact that the book is not arguing on behalf of a political party or based on a particular political viewpoint as he explores this complex phenomenon.

Audience: adults | Genre: nonfiction

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