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Wednesday, May 11, 2011

The Girl's Guide to Homelessness, by Brianna Karp

“If you saw me walking down the street, you wouldn’t assume I live in a parking lot. I am just like you, except without the convenience of a permanent address.”

Brianna Karp entered the workforce at age ten, supporting her mother and sister through out her teen years in Southern California. Although her young life was scarred by violence and abuse, Karp stayed focused on her dream of a steady job and a home of her own. By age twenty-two her dream became reality. Karp loved her job as an executive assistant and signed the lease on a tiny cottage near the beach.

And then the Great Recession hit. Karp, like millions of others, lost her job. In the six months between the day she was laid off and the day she was forced out onto the street, Karp scrambled for temp work and filed hundreds of job applications, only to find all doors closed. When she inherited a thirty-foot travel trailer after her father’s suicide, Karp parked it in a Walmart parking lot and began to blog about her search for work and a way back.

Karp began her journey as a home less person terrified and ashamed. Fear turned to awe as she con nect ed with other homeless people whose remarkable stories inspired her to be come an activist for the homeless community.

Deeply compassionate and darkly funny, this unforgettable memoir celebrates the courage and creativity of lives society would otherwise stigmatize.

I really can't find the words to describe how much this book amazed me. I've always been one to make assumptions about the lives of homeless people, even though my compassionate and Christian heart kept telling me I didn't know the whole story. We all know that there's a backstory, something we don't understand, but we don't always internalize that knowledge in our dealings with people.

This isn't a "fluff" read. It's not a literal guidebook. It's the reality of going from solvency to living day to day in a WalMart parking lot (because WalMart doesn't charge for overnight stays). Karp has shared a no holds barred telling of her daily life. It's gritty. It's dirty. It's unpleasant. And it made me hurt to read it. But it's a book that so many, not just those who find themselves suddenly homeless, can relate to.

This book isn't about adversity. It isn't about merely surviving in tough economic times. It's about living boldly. It's about thriving because of your circumstances--not letting your circumstances thrive.

I've never read a book and thought that everyone should read it. Until this one.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this ebook galley from Harlequin NonFiction through the netGalley publisher/reader connection program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

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