An inspiring memoir of the modern-day homeless person. After managing to sail past her stormy adolescence, Karp forecasted blue skies ahead. But when the crippling recession hit, the author was laid off in a stroke of bad luck that left her homeless but not ‘hopeless.' As a result, writes the author, she went from being an independent woman to a social outcast in a matter of mere months. She briefly found refuge with her mother and stepfather, but with a dysfunctional family tree rooted in incest, abuse and mental disorder, she swiftly returned to the streets. Karp ultimately found a haven in the 30-foot trailer she inherited after her biological father's suicide. But instead of wallowing, the author turned her hard luck into an opportunity to remove the negative associations from homelessness. Karp's language is direct and sometimes unsophisticated, but it keeps in line with the graphic nature of the text. Faith is no savior here; the author associates her rocky family dynamics with her upbringing as a Jehovah's Witness, often referring to the religion as a cult. Karp's story reverberates with immediacy and honesty, and readers will be more than a little dismayed by the frightening notion that the author's fate could just as easily befall them. A haunting personal story that gives a face and a name to homelessness.
In this candid and wickedly humorous memoir, Karp recounts her struggles of going from having a steady job to living in a trailer in a Southern California Wal-Mart parking lot in a matter of days. Raised in a Jehovah's Witness household, Karp endured sexual abuse from her father (who later abandoned the family) as well as mental and physical abuse by her mother. Despite this, as well as being forced by her mother to get a job at age 10, she excelled in school and had a well-paying job as an executive assistant when she was 22. But in the wake of the recession, Karp was laid off and, unable to pay rent or stay with her mother and stepfather, had to live in a 30-foot trailer she'd recently inherited. Taking advantage of Wal-Mart's policy of allowing RVs and trailers to stay in their parking lots overnight, Karp ‘moved' to a parking lot, spending her days at Starbucks using the Wi-Fi connection to search for jobs. When a friend suggested blogging about her experience, she started www.girlsguidetohomelessness.com and connected with other homeless activists; soon, her story went viral. Karp's voice is instantly appealing, and her message that basic respect shouldn't disappear when you lose your home is a vital one.
Brianna Karp is a perfect example of how a person can triumph not in spite of adversity but because of it. This smart, pragmatic woman takes us inside the new face of homelessness in America and her dramatic memoir guides us through our assumptions, fears and judgment into a place of understanding, compassion and respect. Truly essential reading.
—Augusten Burroughs, author of RUNNING WITH SCISSORS
Important...will make you rethink how you view the homeless...[a] mesmerizing memoir...very compelling...courageous...it is inspiring to see the fortitude of the human spirit. We get to see both sides of human nature in Karp's journey, from the truly despicable to the purely tenderhearted...Karp does what many authors spend their whole lives trying to figure out how to do: She writes with honesty, integrity and fearlessness...Her story simply flows. Five out of five bookmarks.
—The Gainesville Times