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Publisher's Summary

All Day is a behind-the-bars, personal glimpse into the issue of mass incarceration via an unpredictable, insightful, and ultimately hopeful reflection on teaching teens while they await sentencing.
Told with equal parts raw honesty and unbridled compassion, All Day recounts a year in Liza Jessie Peterson's classroom at Island Academy, the high school for inmates detained at New York City's Rikers Island. A poet and an actress who had done occasional workshops at the correctional facility, Peterson was ill prepared for a full-time stint teaching in the GED program for the incarcerated youths. For the first time faced with full days teaching the rambunctious, hyper, and fragile adolescent inmates, "Ms. P" comes to understand the essence of her predominantly black and Latino students as she attempts not only to educate them but to instill them with a sense of self-worth long stripped from their lives.
"I have quite a spirited group of drama kings, court jesters, flyboy gangsters, tricksters, and wannabe pimps all in my charge, all up in my face, to educate," Peterson discovers. "Corralling this motley crew of bad-news bears to do any lesson is like running boot camp for hyperactive gremlins. I have to be consistent, alert, firm, witty, fearless, and demanding, and, most important, I have to have strong command of the subject I'm teaching." Discipline is always a challenge, with the students spouting street-infused backtalk and often bouncing off the walls with pent-up testosterone. Peterson learns quickly that she must keep the upper hand - set the rules and enforce them with rigor, even when her sympathetic heart starts to waver.
Despite their relentless bravura and antics - and in part because of it - Peterson becomes a fierce advocate for her students. She works to instill the young men, mostly black, with a sense of pride about their history and culture, from their African roots to Langston Hughes and Malcolm X. She encourages them to explore and express their true feelings by writing their own poems and essays. When the boys push her buttons (on an almost daily basis), she pushes back, demanding that they not only meet her expectations or the standards of the curriculum but set expectations for themselves - something most of them have never before been asked to do. She witnesses some amazing successes as some of the boys come into their own under her tutelage.
Peterson vividly captures the prison milieu and the exuberance of the kids who have been handed a raw deal by society and have become lost within the system. Her time in the classroom teaches her something, too - that these boys want to be rescued. They want normalcy and love and opportunity.
©2017 Liza Jessie Peterson (P)2017 Hachette Audio
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful
5 out of 5 stars
By Louie Crew Clay on 08-01-17

Sassy Prophet

Would you consider the audio edition of All Day to be better than the print version?

Absolutely, because it adds the AUTHORity of Lisa Jessie Peterson's voice.

What was the most compelling aspect of this narrative?

Her amazing imagination in service of her charges.

What about Liza Jessie Peterson’s performance did you like?

Her own enjoyment of it. This is not a report so much as it is a living prophecy. She's not the kind of prophet who foretells the future, but the more important kind, one who cogently articulates 'jedgment, jedgment'

Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

Dozens of such moments! But since you want 'a' singular one: when she arrives for a work day and finds everyone quiet and knows something ominous has caused it. Or when she rails about the blind authoritarianism of a new principal

Any additional comments?

•All Day• intimately connects us to the hearts and souls of talented children whom we have thrown away through our criminal injustice system.

Peterson did not just investigate. She did time herself —16 years in fact — as a loving teacher of those whom society considers the least among us. Her boundless imagination and courage inspire me. Her sass and candor heal.

I love this book, especially her reading of it on

Louie Clay
Professor Emeritus, Rutgers/Newark

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1 of 1 people found this review helpful

5 out of 5 stars
By Audio Diva on 05-16-17

This is an amazing, inspirational book.

WRITTEN. The author narrative is real, dramatic.
Made me feel like I was in the classroom and could envision everything.. I personally believe that this book should be read by every teacher,
especially in the inner City schools, grades 6th through 12th.
If there were more teachers with the fire and passion, that this author shared with her kids, there would be less children going to jail.
She help these kids understand that they should be proud of their heritage, know that they are intelligent, and can do anything, if they put their best efforts into it. I loved this book and recommend reading it.
I'm going to start the book again, right after I finish with this.

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