This is a beautiful example of writing well about endangered children. Wilkerson’s voice is at once poised, solemn, compassionate and engaging. The detail she has gathered and included is fine and telling. Her scenes tell us much about her character, and all detail she includes moves the story deeper—toward an intimate understanding of her subject, toward her theme, toward a complete portrait of Nicholas and his family.

Twelve years after this story was published, Wilkerson wrote about Nicholas’s mother for the Times’ “Class Matters” series.

Read “First Born, Fast Grown,” by Isabel Wilkerson

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