Books Magazine

Fiction Fridays: The Girls' Guide to Homelessness

By Shawndrarussell

This economy sucks. Here is Brianna Karp, a young woman with an education, work ethic, and who had actually loved her job that gets fired and as a result, becomes homeless in 2008. She wasn't there just biding time while waiting to pursue her real passion, counting down the minutes until quitting time. She had actually relished her 9-to-5 and enjoyed her Human Resources duties for Kelley Blue Book.
Yet, the terrible economy led to Kelley Blue Book firing over half of their employees, and +++ was one of those layoffs. Combine her job woes with a bat-shit crazy family and you have a recipe for homelessness for this 23-year-old.
(Side note: Think The Glass Castle by Jeanne Wells and you are on the right track. If you haven't read it, do so immediately. It, like The Girls' Guide to Homelessness, will both make you upon finishing quickly call the people that have actually been good to you in your life. You will want to thank them).
The bravery, honesty, and above all, quirky sense of humor displayed in this heart-wrenching yet uplifting book will grab you. You want to be friends with Brianna, and you want to go volunteer at your local soup kitchen, stat.
This book will literally alter your knee-jerk reaction to homeless people you see and look beyond their outer layer and actually empathize with their situation. This lesson alone is worth reading the book, but there are countless other ways that she will alter the way you view the world. And isn't that the point of reading? Expanding your horizons, learning new lessons, and understanding the world a little more clearly?
The truth is, as Brianna emphasizes, why the heck would anyone intentionally decide to be homeless? Only dire circumstances or mental instability would lead to a life of homelessness (except for those nonconformist extremes like Christopher McCandless in Into the Wild).
This story will touch you and stop any self-pity you might be indulging in at the moment. Most of us haven't had it as bad as Brianna, and hopefully we never will. But, listening to her story will make you question the American Dream and the dogged way in which we are conditioned to pursue it. She did everything right after graduating high school and still ended up parked in a Walmart parking lot.
Her story will make you question doing things society's scripted "right way" and focus on doing things your way instead. It will also encourage you to follow your dreams, the path that's best for you, and don't waste time feeling sorry for yourself and having a victim mentality. 
Her main messages? Do what you need to do to get where you want to be. Keep fighting and good things will happen. Contemplate the worst case scenario, but don't let it paralyze you. And ultimately, if she can survive homelessness, you can survive your struggles too.

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