The book There Are No Children Here by Alex Kotlowitz we follow the lives of two black boys; 10-year-old Lafayette, and 7 year old Pharoah, as they struggle to beat the odds growing up in one of Chicago's worst housing projects. They live in a subsidized housing project called Henry Horner Homes. The family relies on welfare and federal assistance for support and thus cannot afford most luxuries and many necessities; therefore, life is an ongoing struggle to survive. Lafayette and Pharoah share the project apartment with their mother, an alcoholic-drug using father, an older sister, an older brother, and younger triplets. The Project itself is a run down, un-maintained dump, run by the Chicago Housing Authority. The living conditions in their project are appalling. Rusted appliances and dead animals litter and rot the basements. The heating coils in the buildings' furnaces are missing and the buildings have not been painted in many years. Some buildings have numerous bloodstains in them from murder victims. This is due to the fact that the buildings are run and occupied by the gangs in the area. The neighborhood in which they live is filled with poverty and crime. There are no banks, no public libraries, no movie theatres, no skating rinks or bowling allies. .
The book follows Pharoah and Lafayette over a two year period in which they struggle with school, attempt to resist the lure of gangs, mourn the death of close friends, and still find the courage to search for a quiet inner peace, that most people take for granted. Kotlowitz portrays what life is like at the bottom, and the little hope there is for the poor which makes it virtually impossible for the young lives in the ghetto to grow up. Also at the same time Kotlowitz wants the reader to know that not all hope is lost, but something must be done before it is. The title of the book came from a line in the book itself, where the brothers' mother as she and author Alex Kotlowitz consider the challenges of living in such a hostile environment: "There are no children here," she says.