“Ghettoside” by Jill Levoy – Live and Groove’s Book Reviews

Ghettoside Jill Levoy

(“Ghettoside” by Jill Levoy)

“Live and Groove” has been part of the online world for a while now, but there’s been one section that’s remained empty. That section is the one labeled “Books”, and it’s remained empty because, well, I hadn’t finished a new book since the start of this website.

Things have changed, though, because I’m here to give the first book review on “Live and Groove”. I just finished “Ghettoside” by Jill Levoy and wanted to give my thoughts on her work.

Before I begin, though, I do want to give you a general idea of the types of books I generally read. I’m a big fan of non-fiction, especially non-fiction that adopts an investigative tone and looks at, well, the bleak nature of society. I’m all about books detailing decaying cities, epidemics, conflicts, and all sorts of other wonderfully cheery subjects. I can’t really explain why I find these books interesting, maybe it’s the slice of life aspect that’s presented, no matter how bad that slice of life might be. Honestly, it’s probably because I’ve always been fascinated about how things got to be a certain way.

I’m also big on histories as well, and, frankly, that ties into what I just mentioned. If it’s a history of a conflict, war, or something along those lines, I’ll probably add it to the reading list.

That being said, let’s go ahead and jump right into “Ghettoside”. The book’s general topic is homicide in South Central Los Angeles and the police that investigate the crimes, but there’s so much more beneath it.

Levoy spends a considerable amount of time detailing why homicide is common in this community in relation to others, the culture of the Los Angeles Police Department, good and bad, and how it contributed to things, and the socioeconomic conditions that have created a virtually inescapable world within a world in South Central Los Angeles. All these factors come together to paint a pretty vivid picture of a place where homicide tends to be an accepted norm.

These “large topics” are presented in relation to a story about detective John Skaggs, a relentless investigator, and how he had to work a case involving the murder of another detective’s son. Levoy does a great job in detailing how dedicated Skaggs is to his job, especially in relation to departmental restrictions and bureaucratic nonsense, along with telling the story of Wally Tennelle, another office who remained in the South Central Los Angeles area and ultimately lost his son in a senseless homicide.

The sections of the book detailing Skaggs’ personality, which can only be described as intense and single minded in an attempt to solve his cases, along with Tennelle’s personality helpĀ in humanizing the dark main subject matter. The story of Tennelle losing his son should generate some strong emotions.

“Ghettoside” is not an easy read because there’s a lot of tragedy inside the pages, but it’s an important read. It’s one that will paint a better picture of a place that most will write off or not even consider.

I highly recommend it, especially if you are looking for a book that’s going to take you out of your comfort zone and make you feel uneasy. Sometimes we all need that.

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