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Without a Net: Middle Class and Homeless…

Without a Net: Middle Class and Homeless (with Kids) in America

by Michelle Kennedy

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If you're looking for great literature or even a "good read," you should probably skip this book. The author has very little insight into homelessness, herself, or even (it seems)the reality that she purports to be writing about. It's not just that she made one bad decision after another-- we've all made some howlingly bad choices in life-- but the fact that, even while writing about them for publication, she doesn't seem to understand what her experience means in a greater context. A million American children are homeless on any given night, she informs us . . . in a post-script. She seems blind to anything but her own, mostly inchoate and unthinking, desires.

She throws in a few throwaway lines in the post-script, justifying her bad decisions and her treatment of other people. She assures us that her kids don't even remember her irresponsible treatment of them. I'm sure they wouldn't have remembered much about it if a real tragedy had occurred, either. The children's lack of memories don't justify the neglect.

The funny thing is that Michelle Kennedy is a lot like me. We made similar stupid decisions. We come from similar middle class backgrounds. Like most people with our backgrounds, we both have lived only one paycheck from disaster for years. Maybe that's why her breezy and offhand account of her mindless youth grates on me so badly. It's like I'm seeing my own bad decisions magnified and then, instead of owning up to them, just rationalizing them away. Uck.

( )
  marti.booker | Dec 2, 2013 |
Michelle Kennedy tells the story of her summer of homelessness with great honesty and good writing. Coping with a young marriage, an irresponsible husband, three young children, finding work, living out of a car, strained parental relationships, and trying to find a home is a set of daunting tasks. Kennedy lays it all on the table in a way that makes this a page turner. As I read the book, I kept asking, "How long can this go on?" and "What about the children?" Despite her faults and self-doubts, you have to root for Kennedy and her family. You're glad to see the happy ending, but you wonder about others who aren't so lucky and why some of the people she comes to know don't provide more help. A book well worth reading and discussing. ( )
  irishwasherwoman | Jul 5, 2009 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0143036785, Paperback)

Michelle Kennedy had a typical middle class American childhood in Vermont. She attended college, interned in the U.S. Senate, married her high school sweetheart and settled in the suburbs of D.C. But the comfortable life she was building quickly fell apart. At age twenty-four Michelle was suddenly single, homeless, and living out of a car with her three small children. She waitressed night shifts while her kids slept out in the diner's parking lot. She saved her tips in the glove compartment, and set aside a few quarters every week for truck stop showers for her and the kids.

With startling humor and honesty, Kennedy describes the frustration of never having enough money for a security deposit on an apartment—but having too much to qualify for public assistance. Without A Net is a story of hope. Michelle Kennedy survives on her wits, a little luck, and a lot of courage. And in the end, she triumphs.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:12:11 -0400)

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"Michelle Kennedy grew up in a typical middle-class family. She left her Vermont home to begin college at American University in Washington, D.C., and interned as a U.S. Senate page. She had a boyfriend, Tom, whom she adored and soon married; they moved into a starter apartment in the burbs and everything seemed to be falling into place. But the life Michelle was building suddenly unraveled, and by age twenty-four, she found herself single, homeless, and living out of a car with her three small children.Michelle Kennedy's true story, Without a Net, is about what happens when the American Dream bottoms out. It's about improvising - a lot: inventing cover stories for bosses and co-workers, cooking ramen noodles over a grill in a public park. Working back-breaking shifts while your kids sleep in the parking lot. Never having enough money for a security deposit on an apartment - but too much to qualify for public assistance.Michelle Kennedy recounts how a few bad choices and missed chances pushed her below the poverty line and into a different life than she'd ever imagined. She shares each unvarnished detail of how, using her wits, a little luck, and a lot of courage, she survived disaster and, finally, triumphed."--BOOK JACKET.… (more)

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