Jonathan Kozol, whose books have pricked the American conscience, has written a new book that retains a vital continuity with his earlier works but radically departs from them in tone and substance. Ordinary Resurrections: Children in the Years of Hope is a hopeful work filled with children’s revelatory conversations with Kozol. The hard-hitting polemical strains of Kozol’s earlier writings give way to melodies of joy and goodness that flow from many personal encounters between children, teachers, pastor, and parents in Mott Haven, South Bronx, one of the nation’s centers of poverty. It is also a very personal book in which Kozol, a 63-year-old Jewish man, interweaves his own religious reflections with the moral and religious explorations of the children, some of whom have been his friends for nearly seven years.
Kozol acknowledges that in the discipline of writing his earlier books—which focus on school inequalities and medical and social problems of inner city children—he had never had much opportunity to get to know the children in unhurried ways. "I felt a longing," he writes, "to carve out some years in which I could enjoy their company while I still had the health and strength to climb the stairs of their apartment buildings and to wander with them through their neighborhoods and through the hallways of their schools and be with them when they’re at church."