These places don’t want you

Wednesday, January 17th, 2024

Troubled by Rob HendersonRob Henderson was more than a little surprised to discover that none of the major bookstores in New York City or San Francisco would host an event for his new book, Troubled: A Memoir of Foster Care, Family, and Social Class:


All inquiries either outright declined or ignored altogether.

I scanned the websites of some of these bookstores. They are hosting events for authors with 2,000 Twitter/X followers and, in several cases, little to no online or cultural footprint beyond a perch at one of the many dying legacy media outlets.


I have 136,000 followers on Twitter/X. I have nearly 50,000 subscribers on this Substack. My writing has appeared in the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, the Boston Globe, Psychology Today, and many other mainstream outlets. I broke myself in half to enlist in the military and then study at Yale and Cambridge.


If you grow up poor and aren’t willing to pledge fealty to the right causes, these places don’t want you. If you grew up poor, remake your fortunes, and then speak truthfully about the factors that fuel success (hard work, determination, sacrifice) rather than the factors elites speak about (luck, systemic forces, privilege), then these places don’t want you.


The kinds of people who work in these spaces claim to be open-minded. They claim they want to elevate and center voices from marginalized communities.

That’s what they claim.

Let me repeat a stat that doesn’t get shared enough:

Three percent of kids in the foster system graduate from college.


One of us somehow manages to join that minuscule group. And build a large enough platform to communicate about his experiences. And write a book about the obstacles so many young people face. A book that has been warmly endorsed by people across the political spectrum. A book that has received positive early reviews from professional reviewers. One of us manages to miraculously reach a position to communicate the difficulties of sidelined and struggling kids across the country.

But the people who run bookstores aren’t interested in hosting a conversation about it. Apparently, the people who run bookstores are more afraid of confronting my past than I am.


  1. Phileas Frogg says:

    “People who run bookstores,” I don’t like where this rhetoric is going…better call the FBI…

  2. Jim says:

    Imagine expecting open arms from a people that make the Taliban look like schoolboys.

    Does our dear Rob really not know what time it is?

  3. Gaikokumaniakku says:

    The phrase for the day is “suppressed narrative.” Always look at the subgroups within society that can effectively suppress competing narratives.

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