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May 5, 2011

Reading: THE GIRL'S GUIDE TO HOMELESSNESS: A Memoir by Brianna Karp

Posted by Stephen

Regular contributor Denise Neary shares her thoughts on Brianna Karp's stirring memoir, The Girl's Guide to Homelessness. Learn more about this book on's special feature here.

homelessness.JPGLooking for a book to spark some conversation in your book club?   Have I got one for you!

I just read an advance copy of Brianna Karp’s book, The Girl's Guide to Homelessness.  It's on sale now and  I promise it will get you thinking and talking!
The genesis of the book is the sharp blog Karp kept, detailing her life as a homeless individual.
Through a series of events, Karp found herself living one day in her own cottage, and just a few months, and several financial and personal twists later, living in a trailer in a Walmart parking lot. 
Karp, a talented young woman with a tough history, writes her own story from her own lens.   She is a gifted writer --- reading her story, you will laugh, hold your breath, hold back tears, and feel hope, fear and panic.
I would say that I didn’t love the book, but I really liked it.   I could not put it down.  
It is almost painfully personal at some points. I shared the sinking realization with Karp that she faced few choices, and cheered her ability to just push through.
Since I read it, I can’t stop thinking about it. 
I found myself constantly judging Karp and her situation, and it triggered a lot of thoughts: 
*I thought the title was a little too cutesy.  
*I wondered if living in a trailer “counted” as being homeless.  
*I couldn’t believe she spent limited cash on coloring her hair.
*And her romance just left me sputtering.
In other words, she was honest about her life and I didn’t always agree.   Sounds like she could be anyone I know or love…..and that, at the root, is the story.
She could be anyone we know.   What happened to her could happen to anyone.  It does happen, everyday.
Her blog tagline is also poignant: Homeless.  Not a bum.
Karp had more resources than some homeless people have, and I found myself uncomfortable with some of the things she did and how she did them. 
Karp uses what she has, an interesting story and the ability to tell it, to shine some light on her situation.
She has me and other readers reconsidering what we know, and what we think.
Sounds like a victory for Ms. Karp!
Read it, and see if you agree.