Ghettoside: A True Story of Murder in America by Jill Leovy


ghetto.jpgI think there’s a very specific audience for Ghettoside: A True Story of Murder in America and unfortunately I’m not in that audience.

The purpose of the book is to detail – and I do mean detail – a murder that takes place in Los Angeles. It was described to me as a “fast-paced narrative of a devastating crime” but wow was this not fast-paced. It was further described as “an intimate portrait of detectives and a community bonded in tragedy” and that’s certainly accurate. There was SO. MUCH. DETAIL. in this book.

I appreciate that it wasn’t a sensationalized portrait of this murder, which I also wouldn’t have enjoyed, but instead it took almost 100 pages to get past the really unnecessarily detailed narratives of the detectives who worked on this case. Yes, I want to know about them. No, I don’t need 50 pages on each of them, I don’t need to know what they eat for breakfast, I don’t need the details of every single job they’ve ever had, and I don’t need to read an in-depth analysis of every neighbor they’ve ever had.

It felt to me as though the author did her job as an investigative journalist and gathered a ton of information – good job! – but then didn’t do the work of really assessing what she needed to know versus what the reader needed to know.

I am interested in crime statistics and was looking forward to reading what I hoped was a book that really addressed the reasons that America has large pockets of a ton of violent crime, and it did that. But it took so much sifting to get to the meat of this book, to get to the parts I was really interested in, that it didn’t work for me. Like I said, there’s certainly an audience for this type of DETAILED analysis but it wasn’t me.

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