by Brianna Karp

Harlequin, $16.95, 344 pages

Brianna Karp is an independent, strong, and intelligent woman. Her emotionally engaging memoir, Girl’s Guide to Homelessness is a testimony of her strength and independence. Karp had worked since the age of 10 but in 2008, like millions of other hardworking Americans, Karp was laid off as a result of a downsizing. Unsuccessful in the search for employment and without a functional and supportive family, Karp soon found herself without any options. “I was parked in a Walmart lot in a trailer with my dog. I was scared and alone. I was homeless.”

Girl’s Guide to Homelessness actively challenges our assumptions and judgments of homeless people. Karp shares how she became homeless, survived without a permanent address, and how she was able to turn unrelenting adversity into small triumph and self-awareness. This book cannot step lightly around issues such as religious zealotry, child abuse, violence, mental illness, suicide, or drug addiction. Not unlike many homeless and struggling individuals these are core parts of Karp’s story. Because of its content and honesty Brianna Karp’s story should be at the top of everyone’s must read list. It will change our perceptions of what it means to be without a home.

Reviewed by Catherine McMullen