The Girl's Guide to Homelessness by Brianna Karp
My rating: 2 of 5 stars
From Goodreads: “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.
My take: I tried so hard to give the author the benefit of the doubt. I really did. Bottom line is that I think Brianna is a gifted writer who will write very well when she has more experience. This is not a criticism by any means. She is articulate and precise in her ideas.
My overall feeling of the book, though, is that the book itself is based on Brianna's reality and not on truth. I also felt like she spent an inordinate amount of time trying to convince the reader that she was right in all of her arguments with her mother, her sister, and her boyfriend. She provides direct quotations from a dialog where she paints herself as completely calm, intelligent and making perfect sense while the other person is a maniac. The overall message of the book was not to bring awareness to the public regarding homelessness (although that is a nice byproduct) but to publicize how she was victimized by her father, her mother, her sister, her boyfriend, and some supporting characters. She also provides a lot of "he said/she said" and supports it with saying that another character supports her in her "she said."
It may sound callous, but I don't care that Matt was wrong. I don't care that he dumped her and lied to her after promising he'd stand by her forever. Guess what? 50% of women folk have suffered the same loss. It sucks. It hurts. But we don't publish a book about it.
I don't mean to be unkind because I really do believe that Brianna has had a hard life. On the other hand, the author has a lot of anger and unfinished business regarding her family and former boyfriend. This would have been a much stronger story if it had been told more objectively and less defensively. It would also have been much more believable.
I do hope Karp finds her home, not only physically but emotionally. Her resilience is commendable.