Abandoned

America’s Lost Youth and the Crisis of Disconnection

A deeply affecting exposé of America’s hidden crisis of disconnected youth, in the tradition of Matthew Desmond and Adrian Nicole LeBlanc

“A significant share of young people are not keeping up with their peers. Rather, they are disconnected from the mainstream of opportunity and disengaged from education and employment or at risk of being so.” —from Abandoned

For the majority of young adults today, the transition to independence is a time of excitement and possibility. But 4.5 million young people—or a stunning 11.5 percent of youth aged sixteen to twenty-four—experience entry into adulthood as abrupt abandonment, a time of disconnection from school, work, and family. For this growing population of Americans, which includes kids aging out of foster care and those entangled with the justice system, life screeches to a halt when adulthood arrives. Abandoned is the first-ever exploration of this tale of dead ends and broken dreams.

Author Anne Kim skillfully weaves heart-rending stories of young people navigating early adulthood alone, in communities where poverty is endemic and opportunities almost nonexistent. She then describes a growing awareness—including new research from the field of adolescent brain science—that “emerging adulthood” is just as crucial a developmental period as early childhood, and she profiles an array of unheralded programs that provide young people with the supports they need to achieve self-sufficiency.

A major work of deeply reported narrative nonfiction, Abandoned joins the small shelf of books that change the way we see our society and point to a different path forward.

Praise

“Kim diagnoses a ‘crisis of opportunity’ among America’s youth in this substantial and cogent analysis of U.S. public policy. . . . Policymakers and social justice advocates will find valuable insights in this sobering, well-sourced examination.”
Publishers Weekly
“A quietly powerful nonfiction debut . . . the author enlivens the text with miniprofiles of beneficiaries of high-impact programs. An outstanding book for policymakers and people who work with adrift young people.”
Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
“In defiance of stereotypes of lazy and unmotivated youth, Kim depicts young people who are eager to break into the workforce but face personal and structural obstacles that sabotage their efforts at every turn. . . . [A] smart, solutions-focused examination of an often-overlooked social crisis.”
Booklist
“A remarkably important book. . . . Kim has set the table for a much-needed conversation about a population of young people neglected for far too long.”
—Alex Kotlowitz, Washington Monthly

News and Reviews

Washington Monthly

“[A] remarkably important book .. [Anne Kim] writes with a quiet anger [and] has set the table for a much-needed conversation about a population of young people neglected for far too long.”

Kirkus Reviews

Read a starred review of Anne Kim’s “powerful nonfiction debut” in Kirkus Reviews

Booklist

"In defiance of stereotypes of lazy and unmotivated youth, Kim depicts young people who are eager to break into the workforce but face personal and structural obstacles that sabotage their efforts at every turn ....