I think this was a 3.5** book.
The first two chapters really popped and I had high hopes for the rest of his book. The impact of adverse childhood experiences and poverty felt right on point. I also really believe in attachment theory; without a solid beginning most individuals will struggle in life. The idea that a solid attachment can be a protective factor when it comes to poverty and adversity is also a theory that makes a lot of sense. Tough did a great job laying this foundation for the book.
Unfortunately he veers off into the KIPP charter schools and character education. These chapters have some positives and negatives. I did appreciate how Tough focused on kids living in affluence and in poverty. Both populations do benefit from persistence and perseverance as would anyone. However, most public schools don't have the resources or the longer days for extra support that a KIPP school can allow. For me, KIPP is a poor example for a program that can work in any public school setting.
Personally, I don't like the word 'grit'; for me it is a spin-off of the Protestant Work Ethic- pulling yourself up by your bootstraps. Most people in today's educational reform movement believe that all kids can succeed in our current educational system. And after we test them some more, we will be able to prove just that!
It is much easier to pull yourself up when the structural inequalities in our country are in your favor. It is much more difficult to suceed facing obstacles such as unemployment, discrimination and being in a school that isn't clean or safe. I think Tough and I can agree on that.
The last few chapters on college success were sobering. Even if kids make it to this point, very few can remain for the four years and walk away with a degree. A book by Tough on just this topic would definitely be interesting.