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

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

Adrian Nicole LeBlanc

Language: English

Pages: 432

ISBN: 0743254430

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub


This New York Times bestseller intimately depicts urban life in a gripping book that slips behind cold statistics and sensationalism to reveal the true sagas lurking behind the headlines of gangsta glamour.

In her extraordinary bestseller, Adrian Nicole LeBlanc immerses readers in the intricacies of the ghetto, revealing the true sagas lurking behind the headlines of gangsta glamour, gold-drenched drug dealers, and street-corner society. Focusing on two romances—Jessica’s dizzying infatuation with a hugely successful young heroin dealer, Boy George, and Coco’s first love with Jessica's little brother, Cesar—Random Family is the story of young people trying to outrun their destinies. Jessica and Boy George ride the wild adventure between riches and ruin, while Coco and Cesar stick closer to the street, all four caught in a precarious dance between survival and death. Friends get murdered; the DEA and FBI investigate Boy George; Cesar becomes a fugitive; Jessica and Coco endure homelessness, betrayal, the heartbreaking separation of prison, and, throughout it all, the insidious damage of poverty.

Charting the tumultuous cycle of the generations—as girls become mothers, boys become criminals, and hope struggles against deprivation—LeBlanc slips behind the cold statistics and sensationalism and comes back with a riveting, haunting, and true story.

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castigated the Troy Housing Authority. She fantasized about returning to the Bronx. In the meantime, Frankie prospered and hung framed prints of his favorite pro wrestlers in the stash-house living room. He assured her that the arrangement was only temporary, but when he signed up for cable, Coco believed he’d never come home. In the meantime, Mercedes had continued to complain about her toothaches, and she was still taking lots of baths; Coco brought her to the clinic. The dentist said that

wouldn’t have to hide like a fugitive. Frankie’s voice followed: “Yo, Ma, yo, I been calling you all day, yo, but you ain’t there, I’ll see you.” She rewound the tape to hear his voice again, then dragged herself into the kitchen, where the girls had gone in search of food. Mercedes scanned the refrigerator. Besides a dozen eggs, it was nearly empty. She held a bottle of sour milk at arm’s length. It had spoiled while they were in the Bronx. Mercedes clipped her nose. “Mommy! It stinks!” “Toss

the skyline of Manhattan, including the Statue of Liberty and the Brooklyn Bridge. Below the city, BOY arched above two shooting pistols, near 27, a reference to a gang that controlled a piece of the prison black market. On his stomach, he’d added an apple, with a New York Yankees insignia, pierced by two swords. It amused him that in all the years he’d lived in the Bronx, he’d never thought to go to a Yankees game. Prison had further refined Boy George’s philosophical leanings; he’d become a

when she accompanied him on his rounds. The couple had more privacy when Jessica moved into her own place in May 1999 and George quit his job. The owner of the company where Elaine and Jessica worked had helped Jessica find the newly renovated studio apartment, which occupied the basement of a privately owned home on a pretty block in Pelham Parkway in a middle-class neighborhood. Elaine had shared her worries after Jessica showed her the apartment she’d originally planned to take. “No sister of

first new piece of furniture Jessica bought. Serena’s room was too small for the canopy Jessica dreamed of, but Jessica did what she could with the space. Lavender sheets and a matching comforter covered the brand-new mattress. Pink Disney curtains hung from the single window. In her own room, Jessica made do with old sheets, which she tacked up over her windows to reduce the draft. She covered her lumpy mattress with Lourdes’s cast-off brown-and-olive sateen floral spread. There were framed

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