Leblanc, Adrian Nicole
LeBLANC, Adrian Nicole
Freelance journalist. Visiting scholar, New York University School of Journalism.
Knight Foundation fellow; Bunting Institute fellow; McDowell Colony residency, Richard J. Margolis award, 2000; Soros media fellowship, Open Society Institute, 2001; National Book Critics Circle nomination, 2003 for Random Family: Love, Drugs, Trouble and Coming of Age in the Bronx.
Random Family: Love, Drugs, Trouble, and Coming of Age in the Bronx, Simon & Schuster (New York, NY), 2003.
Contributor to Village Voice, New Yorker, Elle, Spin, Source, Esquire, and New York Times Sunday Magazine. Work has been anthologized in The New Gilded Age: The New Yorker Looks at the Culture of Affluence, 2000.
Journalist Adrian Nicole LeBlanc is the author of the book Random Family: Love, Drugs, Trouble, and Coming of Age in the Bronx, dubbed an "intergenerational tale of drug dealing, familial dysfunction and urban criminality" by Washington Post contributor John L. Jackson, Jr. Based on ten years of research LeBlanc undertook in following two young Latina residents of the Bronx, the book recounts the ups and many downs in the lives of Lourdes, Lourdes's sixteen-year-old daughter Jessica, and the many people whose lives they intersect from the late 1980s through the 1990s. Within three years Jessica becomes romantically involved with a heroin dealer named Boy George, while her younger brother Cesar makes equally unsavory friends by joining a local gang. Meanwhile, Lourdes's fourteen-year-old niece Coco becomes involved with Cesar and joins Jessica in an exciting lifestyle paid for by their boyfriend's criminal activities. Ultimately, both young women wind up on the street after their boyfriends wind up behind bars, and attempt to patch together lives from the dregs of society. In addition to being sexually molested and sent to prison, Coco has five children on the way to her twenties, two by Cesar and three by men she met while Coco was in prison.
Noting that Random Family "reads more like a carefully crafted novel than journalism," Jackson commented in his Washington Post review that, in presenting such a detailed picture of even the most minute events in the lives of Lourdes, Jessica, and others, Le-Blanc succeeds in "powerful, even heart-wrenching storytelling." But, Jackson added, "it also mandates that she eschew any substantive discussion" of such social forces as poverty, market forces, and other inequalities "that provide important contextual clues for making sense of places like the South Bronx." Reflecting a similar view, Margaret Talbot praised Le-Blanc in the New York Times Book Review for her "painstaking feat of reporting and empathy," but faulted the book for having "almost nothing to say about the larger world." Random Family's "very dedication to portraying the multiplicity of hurdles," Talbot added, "the bewildering entanglement of personal failure and structural inequality that marks lives like Coco's, allows a kind of exhaustion to creep in." A Publishers Weekly critic found much to commend in Random Family, dubbing the book "extraordinary" and noting that, rather than present a broad-ranging social study LeBlanc allows readers "a rare look at the world [of the urban poor] from the subject's point of view." "LeBlanc's reporting illuminates the ugly, static reality of the street," Karen Valby added in her review for Entertainment Weekly. Calling the author "an unflappable narrator," Valby concluded by noting that in relating the downward spiral of the lives of Lourdes, Jessica, and Coco, the author "does an impressive job of keeping her sense of horror in check."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Austin Chronicle, March 14, 2003, Jordan Smith, review of Random Family.
Boston Globe, March 2, 2003, Dick Lehr, review of Random Family.
Commentary, May, 2003, Kay S. Hymowitz, review of Random Family, p. 73.
Entertainment Weekly, February 3. 2003, Karen Valby, "Random Family Startling Tale."
Kirkus Reviews, November 15, 2002, review of Random Family, p. 1677.
New York Times Book Review, February 9, 2003, Margaret Talbot, "In the Other Country," p. 12
Publishers Weekly, November 4, 2002, review of Random Family, p. 71.
Washington Post, February 12, 2003, John L. Jackson, Jr., "Numb with Pain," p. C8.
Atlantic Unbound,http://www.theatlantic.com/ (April 24, 2003), "Bronx Story," interview with LeBlanc.