Thursday, December 15, 2011

Can You Spare Some Change?

According to the Chicago Alliance to End Homelessness, every year between 2.5 and 3.5 million people will live on the streets or in a homeless shelter. On any one night, about 750,000 men, women, and children are part of that homeless population. The books below tell the story of 5 people who struggled and overcame homelessness, dysfunctional families, and sometimes drugs, to have a normal life.

362.5 SHE
Shepard, Adam. Scratch Beginnings: Me, $25, and the Search for the American Dream.

When he graduated from college, Adam Shepard started an experiment. Could he drop himself in the middle of nowhere with just $25 in cash, an empty gym bag, a sleeping bag, a tarp and the clothes on his back, and one year later, obtain a car, a furnished apartment and $2500 in savings just by living and working on the road? He starts with a new identity, one that doesn't include his college education, financial history or anyone he knew in his previous life.

362.74 ERL
Erlbaum, Janice. Have You Found Her: A Memoir.

Twenty years after the author lived at a homeless shelter for teens, she went back to volunteer. She was now a successful writer and she wanted to help a girl who was in the same situation she was back then. She meets brilliant but troubled 19 year old junkie Sam. She has been living on the streets since she was 12. Erlbaum tries to help her, but she may be too late.

362.74 MUR
Murray, Liz. Breaking Night: A Memoir of Forgiveness, Survival, and My Journey from Homeless to Harvard.

At the age of 15, Liz Murray was born to drug-addicted parents in New York City. By fifteen, when her family falls apart, she ends up homeless. When her mother dies of AIDS, Liz decides to chart her own destiny by going back to high school, completing her homework in the school hallways and sleeping in subway stations. Against all odds, she eventually makes it to Harvard.

362.74 PAS 
S., Tina. Living at the Edge of the World: How I Survived the Tunnels of Grand Central Station.

When she met runaway teenager April, Tina S. left her dysfunctional family behind and lived for four years in the train tunnels underneath Grand Central Station in New York. Soon after she arrived, she became addicted to crack and did whatever she had to do to support her addiction. Finally, after several tragedies and arrests, she realizes she might not live through another day on the streets. With a team of caring adults in her life, she slowly straightened out her life.

B Gardner, C
Gardner, Chris. The Pursuit of Happyness.

At the age of 20, Chris Gardener had already had a hard life growing up in poverty in a dysfunctional home. With only a high school education, he applies and gets accepted to a training program for stockbrokers. Because of the low salary and a series of unfortunate events, he and his toddler son became homeless. They spent the next year sleeping in shelters. He eventually went on to become a successful stockbroker and multi-millionaire.

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