The Girl's Guide to Homelessness by Brianna Karp
Harlequin • $16.95 • ISBN 9780373892358


Unable to find work after losing her job during the recession in 2008, Brianna Karp moved into a trailer in a Walmart parking lot. She spent her days applying for jobs thanks to Starbucks' internet connection, figuring out where to shower for free, refilling water jugs and otherwise trying to make a life without an address, electricity, a water hookup or any family support.

Karp's memoir, The Girl's Guide to Homelessness, chronicles this difficult experience. You'll get sucked into this unconventional survival story because Karp has an intimate and direct voice from page one.

In this excerpt, Karp reflects on her own ideas about homelessness—before she joined the ranks of the homeless herself:

I had never much thought about homelessness or homeless people. Sure, there was the occasional "hobo" on the street, perhaps lounging on the sidewalk outside a 7-Eleven, begging for change, ragged, perhaps with a worn ski cap on, maybe missing a few teeth, with scraggly hair and a wizened visage.

"Don't make eye contact with them," my mother would say, jerking me to her side, not even bothering to whisper or even lower her voice. She spoke about them as if they couldn't hear or understand her, or as if they had no feelings to hurt. I never really thought to question that. It was just another stereotype repeated to me, ad nauseam, from infancy . . .

I was ashamed of myself, thinking back on it. In a way, this was my atonement, my penance for being so self-righteous all those years. Serves me right, I realized wildly.

It was Thursday, February 26, 2009. I was homeless.


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