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Book Reviews and Other Media |

Random Family: Love, Drugs, Trouble, and Coming of Age in the Bronx

Iman Sharif, MD, MPH, Reviewer
Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med. 2004;158(10):1019-1020. doi:10.1001/archpedi.158.10.1019-b.
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As a general pediatrician in the South Bronx, trained to serve the underserved, I believed I understood the social issues that my patients encounter and how these impact their health. In her first book, LeBlanc has clearly demonstrated to me how much I am yet sheltered from the realities of my patients’ lives.

This book is a documentary of the lives of members of an extended family living in the Bronx, NY, during the 1990s. The story opens with an introduction to Jessica, a beautiful, ambitious, and sexy teenager who meets Boy George, a young, ambitious, powerful, and successful heroin dealer. The central character of this true story is Coco, whom we first meet as “an ebullient girl with a taste for excitement.” She quickly falls for Jessica’s younger brother, Cesar, who idolizes Boy George. Boy George, Cesar, and Jessica all end up in prison while Coco lives on the “outside” as a single mother who, by the end of the book, has 5 children. Mercedes is Coco and Cesar’s first child.

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