Inner Visions by Jan Thrope

Synopsis: Inner Visions is an astonishing book about the reality of inner-city neighborhoods where it seems all hope and vision for a better future has been abandoned. Jan Thrope takes the reader on a tour through the most poverty-stricken areas of Cleveland, Ohio, to show the despair and how some of the residents are pulling together to make positive changes with hard work and innovative thinking. This book is a testament to the human spirit and that despite the situations some people have been born into, they still want better for themselves and their community.

My two cents

I purposely don't read the newspapers or watch the news sometimes because let's face it, there's a lot of bad news out there. We're constantly bombarded with it that many have become jaded and cynical. Sometimes even the tiniest bit of good news is enough to make my day. And this book is lots of good news.

What I love about this book that it doesn't sugarcoat the harsh and often obscene realities of just how hard life can be -- poverty, abuse, injustice, dysfunctionality, ugly neighbourhoods -- this is how people live their lives. On the ground, real stories of real people. Through its pages, I was given a glimpse at the lives of some people in inner city Cleveland: how they struggle, and more importantly, why.

There's Rashawn who finds comfort in a box of a schoolroom because he constantly is exposed to the ugly and scary realities of his own neighbourhood. There's the man who sits on the curb who admits to being lazy but doesn't really know what else to do. There's the nurse's assistant who, wanting to escape an abusive relationship -- subsists on 2.5 hours of sleep and has kids who need to takes 6 buses a day -- not knowing her options has forced her into this equally hellish schedule. 

The funny thing is that I could very well have been reading about the very stories happening in my neighbourhood. It's just a matter of looking around, taking time to notice and actually do something: which is what this book is all about.

In all of these cases, people, organisations and communities have come together to think of practical ways to make a difference. We all try to think big but it may be as simple as providing clean underwear (yes, you read that right). I know this sounds naive, simplistic and even cliche, but the truth is, even a small action can make a huge impact on people's lives.

This is an unusual format for a book -- it has its share of equally gorgeous and jarringly disturbing ones. A picture is worth a thousand words. The stories here are brought to reality with the accompanying photos, driving home its message succinctly and powerfully.


If you need a bit something to brighten your day, pick this up. It'll restore your faith in people. Life can throw us a curveball: sometimes it's easy to toss it right back, but other times it's good to know that there are people out there willing to go out on the limb to help. But be forewarned, once you've read this though, you will start to see things differently when you take a walk in your neighbourhood. Hopefully it will inspire you to be part of making the difference.

Lastly, I can't finish this review without commenting on the author, Jan Thrope. She has eyes that see and hands that work, and it is truly inspiring to provide a venue for the wonderful work that she and Inner Visions have started. The work has just started. Godspeed!


Verdict: An inspiring book of how people can instigate change in even the most dire of circumstances. Filled with real stories of struggling yet triumphing people and communities through vignettes and compelling photography, I highly recommend this book!

100% of all of the proceeds from the book goes to support Inner Visions of Cleveland projects.

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I received a copy of this this book in exchange for an honest review. I have also hosted the author, Jan Thrope's guest post and held a giveaway.

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© guiltless readingMaira Gall