Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Book Review: The Girl's Guide to Homelessness by Brianna Karp

Brianna Karp had a rough childhood, raised by an abusive mother in the restrictive and cult-like Johovah's Witness religion. Brianna is beaten and verbally abused throughout her childhood, forced to work from a very young age to help support her family. When she finally gets a good-paying job and is able to get out of her mother's house, she has no intention of ever returning.

But then Brianna is laid off during the recession, and soon finds herself unable to pay her bills in high-priced Southern California. She loses her home and ends up living with her mother, her step-father and her sister. This arrangement doesn't last long as she and her mother just cannot get along, so Brianna finds herself homeless as she tries to survive on meager unemployment checks and occasional temp jobs.

As luck would have it, Brianna's long-estranged father dies and leaves her a trailer, into which she packs all of her belongings. At the recommendation of a friend, she starts a blog, The Girl's Guide to Homelessness, and thus begins her journey into life without a home. In her new memoir, also called The Girl's Guide to Homelessness, she recounts her childhood struggles, and reveals the secrets to surviving without a home ~ using local gyms for showers, gas stations for restrooms, Starbucks for Internet access and Walmart parking lots for trailer parking.

She also shares a great deal about her personal life during her time living in her trailer. She falls in love, gets a job or two, gives up her dog and becomes a bit of a celebrity. Through it all, Brianna appears to be honest about her feelings and ideals. She tells it like it is, and lays everything on the line, as they say. She is truly beaten down by many people, some of whom she loves, and I feel for her. But she survives.

With that said, I felt like this book was very one-sided. I understand that this is a memoir, so it's going to be her personal story and memories. But there wasn't really any objectivity to it at all. In every situation, it seemed that the author made it very clear that she was right and everyone else was wrong. Many times she hinted at what was going to happen in the future but reiterating that she told the other person over and over that they shouldn't do something, or should do something differently, and lo and behold, later on that person ends up regretting that they didn't take Brianna's advice. While these may be true stories, I felt that the way they were written made them sound too one-sided. This was really the one thing that bothered me throughout the book.

Overall, this is a fascinating memoir, and it really sheds light on the fact that anyone can become homeless. The tips she offers people who find themselves homeless are excellent, and I know she has more on her blog. Her story is like a soap opera with all the drama in it, but unfortunately it's real life for her. If you enjoy memoirs with a lot of drama and a bit of humor thrown in, check out The Girl's Guide to Homelessness.

My Rating: 3/5

Visit The Girl's Guide to Homelessness blog

This review was written based on an e-book copy of The Girl's Guide to Homelessness that I received from Harlequin through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.


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