“Paul Tough is a thinker to cherish: formidably clear-eyed, incandescently learned, and unshakably hopeful. Diving deep into the rewards, challenges, and perils of the American university system, The Years That Matter Most reveals the heavy price a society pays when it no longer pulls together to give its young people the education they need. An extraordinary, indispensable book.”
—Junot Diaz, Pulitzer Prize–winning author of The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao
“Gorgeously reported. Vividly written. Utterly lucid. Paul Tough jumps skillfully between deeply engaging personal narratives and the bigger truths of higher education. The way he tells the stories of these students, it’s impossible not to care about them and get angry on their behalf.”
—Ira Glass, host, This American Life
“Paul Tough’s daring The Years That Matter Most forces us to unfold the suffering built into the creases of American higher education. It refuses to let us forget about the bodies and lives of real students. It should be necessary reading for every student, professor, administrator, and trustee in this country interested in what radical revision looks like.”
—Kiese Laymon, author of Heavy: An American Memoir
“Paul Tough is a beautiful reporter and writer and a deeply moral guide to understanding the situation of children in our heartless meritocracy. The Years That Matter Most is a great book that should start a necessary conversation about the high cost of the race to the top.”
—George Packer, author of The Unwinding: An Inner History of the New America and Our Man: Richard Holbrooke and the End of the American Century
“Drawing on broad reading and visits to campuses across the country, Tough’s work offers an indictment of American society and political structures and persuasively argues that universities must fulfill the American commitment to equality of opportunity.”
—STARRED review, Library Journal
"Tough clearly shows that college placement remains mostly about wealth at the expense of a collective educational environment. A good choice for aspiring college students and their parents."
"In this fascinating study, education journalist Tough (How Children Succeed) argues persuasively that access to an elite college education, which in the U.S. is popularly believed to be a meritocratically distributed social equalizer, is in fact distributed in ways that reinforce existing economic divisions... His analyses of data are sound, his portraits of students and teachers sympathetic, his argument neatly structured, and his topic one with wide appeal. This well-written and persuasive book is likely to make a splash."