Photo Prompt

Daily Photo (6/2/20) – Michigan Central Station, Detroit

Photo — “Michigan Central Station”

Use the photos posted in this feature for writing prompts, warm-up activities, drawing templates or as part of a photo analysis.

“Michigan Central Station (also known as Michigan Central Depot or MCS), built in mid-1912 through 1913 for the Michigan Central Railroad, was Detroit, Michigan’s passenger rail depot from its opening in 1913 after the previous Michigan Central Station burned, until the cessation of Amtrak service on January 6, 1988. At the time of its construction, it was the tallest rail station in the world.” (Wikipedia)  It was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1975 and restoration projects are currently underway.

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March 2020, Nonfiction

Broke by Jodie Adams Kirshner

Broke: Hardship and Resilience in a City of Broken Promises by Tina Connolly. November 19, 2019. St. Martin’s Press, 342 p. ISBN: 9781250220639.  Int Lvl: AD; Rdg Lvl: AD.

A galvanizing, narrative account of a city’s bankruptcy and its aftermath told through the lives of seven valiantly struggling Detroiters

Bankruptcy and the austerity it represents have become a common “solution” for struggling American cities. What do the spending cuts and limited resources do to the lives of city residents? In Broke, Jodie Adams Kirshner follows seven Detroiters as they navigate life during and after their city’s bankruptcy. Reggie loses his savings trying to make a habitable home for his family. Cindy fights drug use, prostitution, and dumping on her block. Lola commutes two hours a day to her suburban job. For them, financial issues are mired within the larger ramifications of poor urban policies, restorative negligence on the state and federal level and―even before the decision to declare Detroit bankrupt in 2013―the root causes of a city’s fiscal demise.

Like Matthew Desmond’s EvictedBroke looks at what municipal distress means, not just on paper but in practical―and personal―terms. More than 40 percent of Detroit’s 700,000 residents fall below the poverty line. Post-bankruptcy, they struggle with a broken real estate market, school system, and job market―and their lives have not improved.

Detroit is emblematic. Kirshner makes a powerful argument that cities―the economic engine of America―are never quite given the aid that they need by either the state or federal government for their residents to survive, not to mention flourish. Success for all America’s citizens depends on equity of opportunity.

Potentially Sensitive Areas: Criminal culture; Discrimination; Drugs; Strong language

 

Reviews

Booklist (November 1, 2019 (Vol. 116, No. 5))
The city of Detroit was put into bankruptcy in 2013, weighed down by years of blight, urban flight, and fiscal mismanagement. The mortgage crisis of 2007 to 2008, the great recession, and the near insolvency of the “Big Three” automakers all factored heavily in the city’s problems. The city’s troubles began years before with the relocation of auto plants and outsourcing of jobs, and the financial crisis added an exclamation point to it. A research professor at New York University, Kirshner frames her narrative through the lives of various Detroit residents struggling to stay in the city they love. Miles is middle-aged, staring into financial oblivion while attempting to find work. Reggie aspires to own a home and settle down with his family. Determined Broadmoor resident Cindy seeks to clean up her neighborhood. These three are joined by others and united by the crushing onus of government oversight and misplaced intentions. While Detroit’s bankruptcy ended in late 2014, some glaring problems remain. This is a powerful view of the seldom-seen victims of financial calamity.

Kirkus Reviews starred (August 15, 2019)
A deep dive into the daily living of low-income Detroit residents as well as real estate speculators. Kirshner  received permission from seven individuals to conduct on-the-ground research about what occurs when a city is stuck under the weight of often arcane bankruptcy law. The burdens fall most heavily on people of color. Four of Kirshner’s protagonists are black: Miles, an ambitious mid-40s construction worker bedeviled by mistaken law enforcement paperwork suggesting he is a felon; Lola, a mid-20s single mother who cannot find a conveniently located job commensurate with her college education; Reggie, a mid-40s buyer of residential properties in a city decimated by abandoned homes often emptied through fraud initiated by white lenders; and Charles, a 50-ish faithful Detroiter who earned a livable income when the automobile industry was thriving in the city. The three white protagonists are Joe, a tree surgeon business owner who optimistically relocated from New Jersey; Robin, a late 40s property developer from Los Angeles who sees moneymaking opportunities purchasing abandoned houses in certain Detroit neighborhoods; and Cindy, an early 60s Detroiter who hung on as her longtime neighborhood shifted from mostly white to nearly all low-income black, with abandoned and vandalized houses on every block. Kirshner is masterful at explaining the predatory banking and insurance industry practices that have led to impoverishment across the entire city (except for the white establishment downtown), the heartlessness of white politicians (mostly Republicans) who seemingly operate from racist viewpoints, a judicial system that offers little justice for the poor, and bankruptcy law, which was never meant to be applied to city governments. Although immersed in the lives of her protagonists, the author wisely keeps a low profile within her eye-opening and sometimes heartbreaking narrative, which ends with a brief call to action. “We cannot allow the country to fragment into areas of varying opportunity,” she writes. A significant work of social sciences and urban studies.

About the Author

Jodie Adams Kirshner is a research professor at New York University. Previously on the law faculty at Cambridge University, she also teaches bankruptcy law at Columbia Law School. She is a member of the American Law Institute, past term member of the Council on Foreign Relations, and technical advisor to the Bank for International Settlements. She received a prestigious multi-year grant from the Kresge Foundation to research this book.

Her website is jodieadamskirshner.com/

Teacher Resources

Author Interview on C-Span’s BookTV

Around the Web

Broke on Amazon

Broke on Barnes and Noble

Broke on Goodreads

Broke on LibraryThing

Broke Publisher Page

December 2019, Fiction

Michigan vs. the Boys by Carrie Allen

Michigan vs. the Boys by Carrie Allen. October 1, 2019. Kids Can Press, 299 p. ISBN: 9781525301483.  Int Lvl: YA; Rdg Lvl: YA.

When a determined girl is confronted with the culture of toxic masculinity, it’s time to even the score.

Michigan Manning lives for hockey, and this is her year to shine. That is, until she gets some crushing news: budget cuts will keep the girls’ hockey team off the ice this year.

If she wants colleges to notice her, Michigan has to find a way to play. Luckily, there’s still one team left in town …

The boys’ team isn’t exactly welcoming, but Michigan’s prepared to prove herself. She plays some of the best hockey of her life, in fact, all while putting up with changing in the broom closet, constant trash talk and “harmless” pranks that always seem to target her.

But once hazing crosses the line into assault, Michigan must weigh the consequences of speaking up — even if it means putting her future on the line.

Potentially Sensitive Areas: Discrimination; Homophobic slur; Mild sexual themes; Strong language; Underage drinking; Underage smoking; Violence, Sexual harrassment/assault

 

Reviews

Booklist (September 1, 2019 (Vol. 116, No. 1))
Grades 9-12. Michigan’s entire life was hockey—when she was not conditioning and training, she was watching hockey movies and thinking about hockey. All of her hard work pays off when she is finally named Assistant Captain of her school team, but a few days later, the team is cut due to funding. Without rich parents to pay her tuition at a private school, she’s seemingly out of options. So, she tries out for the boy’s varsity team, which she easily makes, but her coaches and teammates aren’t happy about it. Michigan endures months of physical and emotional abuse and hazing without reporting it, focusing on her craft instead. Allen’s debut is a plot-driven novel that takes readers inside a misogynistic team and a school and town that allow that behavior to go unchecked. The book’s power comes from highlighting the pain and abuse that barrier-breaking women endure in a male-driven field, but the characters are thinly drawn and the ending is too tidy for such a complicated story. Our admirable heroine deserves more than that.

Kirkus Reviews (August 15, 2019)
Michigan wants to play hockey, which leaves one last audacious option—the boys’ team. Michigan Manning and her best friend, Brie, dream of victory as the new captains of their high school girls’ ice hockey team. Instead, Principal Belmont shocks them by announcing that budgets cuts will render the girls’ hockey team defunct. The close-knit hockey girls scatter—Brie to private school, the rest to other schools and other sports, but Michigan can’t afford private school tuition or long commutes. Inspired by Jack, a handsome, popular swimmer, and a brave girl on her brother’s AAA bantam team, Michigan shrugs off ridicule, taunts, and bullying to earn her way to a coveted center position on the boys’ varsity team. It’s an exhilarating run, as debut author Allen creates a wonderfully authentic hockey world. Determined, resilient Michigan fights for her right to play despite feeling abandoned by old friends and ostracized by her new team. However, readers may feel frustrated by the author’s portrayal of Michigan’s rationalizations and the alpha bad guy trope, which veers toward the cartoonish—after purposely injuring her, one bully “lowers his voice as if talking to a baby. ‘Are you going to be OK to play this weekend? Coach needs his widdle Michigan out there.’ ” The supportive relationships between Michigan and her brother, boyfriend, and father are beautifully written, and the on-ice experience is similarly nuanced and breathtaking. Most characters are assumed white. Nevertheless, a gritty and heroic athlete persists. (Fiction. 13-16)

About the Author

Carrie Allen is a Colorado girl who wears flip-flops year-round and never skips dessert. She is retired from sports medicine, and extra-tired from chasing around two kids and two dogs. She writes contemporary YA about girls who kick butt in sports.

Her website is www.carrieallenauthor.com

Around the Web

Michigan vs. the Boys on Amazon

Michigan vs. the Boys on Barnes and Noble

Michigan vs. the Boys on Goodreads

Michigan vs. the Boys on LibraryThing

Michigan vs. the Boys Publisher Page