I should probably just point out that I love biographies. They are my weakness. I really enjoy other peoples extraordinary lives and journeys…I try to take away lessons and inspiration from each one. But, there is also the other side of the coin–that one that just sits wrong with me.
Welcome to Brianna Karp’s world.
She’s a twenty-something living in a trailer in the parking lot of Wal Mart. She’s armed with a blackberry, laptop and a boat load of misfortune.
I read about THE GIRLS GUIDE TO HOMELESSNESS in PEOPLE magazine and was looking forward to picking it up. The idea, I thought, was interesting enough and the book was made to sound like it would be quick read. I finished it in a single night, mostly because I couldn’t wait to write a review, but felt in order to do so, I owed Brianna a fair shake at things.
This book should have been have been written in three parts: Belief, Suspicion of Disbelief and Total Disbelief.
I harbored a feeling, a strong feeling at that, that most of this book is written from Brianna supposed reality, and I highly doubt most of it is actual reality. A lot has been made about fictions claims and stories in the books–and I’m guessing that is probably the only true account when it comes to this story.
Brianna claims to be homeless, and yes, by definition she is without a stable home, ergo “homeless”. But she’s far, far, far and away from the image of a woman sitting curbside begging for change. She’s not that by a mile and a half of hard road.
She works really hard to sell you on why her version of homelessness is still legit, despite having money enough to fly her online boyfriend around the world 4 times, own a Blackberry cell phone, a neo mastiff (which she boards–and can afford to keep in food) and 2 cars, oops…lets not forget her trailer which serves as her home for the duration of the story. Brianna tries, and fails, to justify these actions by pulling the old “poor little me” excuse to explain away various expenses she occurs in the pursuit of wooing her man–like the antique ring or the the trips across the globe last minute. She’ll tell you (more than once) that being homeless doesn’t mean you have to go without, for example, that owning a blackberry is a necessity of the modern world despite the $40.00 a month service plan that comes along with it.
There are moments where you’ll feel for this girl, of course. If this story even harbors 1/100th of truth, that’s a real shame. But, at the end of the day–and all else aside– she’s an active and willing participant in making poor decisions, al a, taking her unemployment, when she’s too broke to buy food mind you, and flying her boyfriend to the US for an extended “sex and getting to know you” vacation. Those tickets aren’t cheap, people.
I have no doubt Brianna struggles, be it from her circumstances or free will, but the reader will have a hard time reconciling the two. If it wasn’t for bad luck, Brianna would have none and so I wish her the best and hope she can realign her priorities so she can get back to on an even keel.
I disliked this book. With passion. I felt like it was blatant fraud. She wasn’t living the life she wanted, true, but she wasn’t homeless. Homeless means without a home, she had one–it was a trailer, maybe not the best living conditions long term or rise up to meet her standards–but a real homeless person, someone who has dumpster dived and begged change, would consider a trailer a treasure, a gift, a home.