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218 words
SHJ Issue 4
Fall 2011

Streethearts Street Smarts

by Greg Herriges]

A Review by Duff Brenna

Kindle edition (2011)

Cover of Streethearts, by Greg Herriges

See also Nook Books

John Spector is a seasoned high school teacher with 22 years in the trenches of a ghetto school filled with struggling teenagers, gangs, apathetic students—but also students “who make an indelible impression, kids with souls and hearts as big as the world.” We get the whole spectrum from Spector, a brave and decent soul, a soft touch, too nice, too caring perhaps. Herriges spent many years as a high school teacher. He brings substance and legitimacy to Streethearts. The authenticity of his narrative comes across in every line of every page, many of them packed with witty and sparkling dialogue, at times genuinely humorous, occasionally grim or even horrific, but always candid, always down-to-earth, always reliable.

Shrewdly written, its style rich but minimal without being minimalist, its language bursting with street-smart wisdom, Streethearts puts us on the inside track of what it really means to be an inner-city educator trying not only to teach but to survive what is an increasingly menacing world loaded with poverty, misery and violence. The hard-won truths we learn from Spector are more than enlightening, they’re intellectually life-altering. The book is a triumph and should be required reading for anyone who thinks he has the answers as to why so many of America’s schools are failing.

—Previously published in Amazon Editorial Reviews (28 August 2011)


SHJ Issue 4
Fall 2011

Duff Brenna

is the author of six novels, and recipient of an AWP Award for Best Novel (The Book of Mamie), a National Endowment for the Arts Award, a South Florida Sun-Sentinel Award for Favorite Book of the year (The Altar of the Body), a Milwaukee Magazine Best Short Story of the Year Award, and a Pushcart Honorable Mention.

Brenna’s stories, poems, and essays have appeared in Cream City Review, SQ, Agni, The Nebraska Review, The Literary Review, The Madison Review, New Letters, and numerous other literary venues. His work has been translated into six languages.

“...we have been born here to witness and celebrate. We wonder at our purpose for living. Our purpose
is to perceive the fantastic. Why have a universe if there is no audience?” — Ray Bradbury