“Twenty-five years among the poorest children in America” is the subtitle and excellent description of Fire in the Ashes, an exposé about America’s impoverished children by writer and activist Jonathan Kozol. After a lifetime of working with children from America’s poorest neighbourhoods, Kozol returns to New York City to reconnect with those he met years ago. The haven of St. Ann’s Episcopal Church and The Martinique, an infamous welfare hotel, are the geographic poles around which many of these lives revolve. Between these places, Kozol tells stories of children who made it and children who didn’t; of families that survived and families that cracked; of children like Pineapple and Silvio growing up in the poorest districts of the world’s richest nation. Kozol’s writing reveals to the reader the intertwined dignity and desperation that describe the survival of children who both break your heart and rekindle hope. In a year where the passionate investigative writing of Katherine Boo’s Behind the Beautiful Forevers and Blaine Harden’s Escape from Camp 14 highlighted poverty abroad, Fire in the Ashes reminds us that it exists at home in equal measure.