This introduction presents an overview of the key concepts discussed in the subsequent chapters of this book. The book analyzes the lives of low-income African American teenagers and young adults in a small city in the Northeast. It explores the volatility and constraints underlying their decision-making and behavior, analyzing how and why as teenagers they often end up behaving and making decisions in direct conflict with their life goals and values. The book shows how the unpredictability and limitations they faced and continue to face, not only shape their life trajectories on a micro level, but also offers insight into the persistence of racial inequality more generally, on the macro level. It introduces the Hovey family who provide a starting point for examining the paradoxes and contradictions that characterize the lives of African American teenagers in Parlington. The book looks at the role sports play in school attachments.