In a neighborhood like the Henry Horner Homes in Chicago, Illinois, where gang violence, unemployment, and drug use is part of everyday life, it becomes extremely difficult for a young person to overcome the obstacles that they face. In Alex Kotlowitz's book, There Are No Children Here, two young men, Terrence Rivers and Craig Davis are portrayed as youths, who, though they are both brought up in similar situations and both experience the every day horrors of living in the projects, turn into two very different people. Through their actions, one can observe how a person's ability or inability to overcome the travesties around them plays a role in the quality of his or her life.
"I gave him the most love.So he was my biggest disappointment." states LaJoe Rivers, Terrence's mother. At the arrival of younger siblings, Terrence feels that he is losing his mother. His inability to adjust to his growing family leads Terrence to another kind of family, one that would replace the love that he feels he has lost, a gang. This decision, a result of his own unwillingness to change, ironically is the decision that changes his life. The gangs at first give Terrence the sense of belonging that he craves, but he soon withdraws from them. Although his family welcomes him with open arms, Terrence is not able to maintain any sort of long term arrangement with his family and because of this, he becomes further estranged. His inability to adjust to life with his new siblings, and then to his life as a drug dealer and gang member along with his inability to bounce back from set-backs leads Terrence to a courthouse, and, inevitably, jail.
Craig Davis, a young man close in age to Terrence, becomes somewhat of a neighborhood hero. The community loved him, his peers respected him, and younger children in the neighborhood looked up to him. Craig flourished in a community of drugs, gangs and murder, out-letting his boredom and frustration through music and deejaying.