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Girlbomb: A Halfway Homeless Memoir by…

Girlbomb: A Halfway Homeless Memoir

by Janice Erlbaum

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3461631,609 (3.65)18

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The description of Girlbomb is a memoir of Janice Erlbaum as a 15 year old who in the 1980′s left home and went to a shelter. The book is so much more than that. It reads like story and held me captive throughout the book, the author did a great job at capturing her life. Janice leaves home because her mom keeps taking back her abusive husband, Janice’s stepfather, and she’s had enough. She goes through hell at a shelter and group home, acknowledges her white privilege and how it benefits her in the situation, but it is still hard on her. That was all I was expecting from the book but it continued on past that, it goes into Janice’s need for attention and love, how she is an outcast within her group of friends and tries to feel a void with drugs and men. The detail written describing the scenes and how Janice felt is heartbreaking and uncomfortable at times. There are times when I felt annoyed with Janice for making shit harder for herself but she is just trying to cope with her messed up life and it is clear she sees a pattern. Her mom was the same way and she is becoming what she hates. The book ended well, not making it seem like she learned her lesson and was turning over a new leaf, just that she realizes what she is doing and wants to change but it takes time and baby steps and will see what happens.

I would of liked if the author gave an update on her life instead of ending it where she did. The book was written in 2007 and the time described is in the 1980s so it’s not like she doesn’t know how she turned out, if she kept on the same path or managed to change. Oh well. Great book, I was very surprised by it. ( )
  GrlIntrrptdRdng | May 14, 2015 |
Tase-worthy pun aside (Erlbaum --> "Girlbomb"), this is a fast, fun read. Coming from an existence as square as mine, it's hard to believe that there are actually girls like this -- chugging every drink, popping every pill, snorting every line, fucking every dude they can lay hands on, and barely out of their tweens. Indeed, for me, the most shocking thing about the book was not the acts committed, but the very cavalier way in which they're discussed. The narrator seems to live in a world of almost total amorality (the only time she expresses remorse over an ethical issue is when she cheats on her boyfriend); she never, ever stops for a second before doing a line, or whatever, and thinks, "Maybe this just isn't a good thing to do." Whatever she can do, she does, and does it until it almost wrecks her life. Maybe the story starts too late for morality to be an issue; when the book begins, she's a high school freshman and already very much in the thick of things. I'd be interested in a fuller picture of the author's earlier life, just to see if she ever had any scruples about drugs, sex, and the like, or if that was never an issue at all. Again, I'm a total square, so perhaps not the fittest judge, but these things sometimes stretched the bounds of believability for me -- I just couldn't believe kids were that bad! I never sensed, though, that things were being stretched or fabricated, and Erlbaum doesn't seem to take special pride in having been a delinquent. If she had attempted to glamorize that lifestyle or make noble outcasts of herself and her peers, "Girlbomb" would have been insufferable, but she thankfully never falls into that trap.

One review I read lumped this book in with "Girl, Interrupted", but there couldn't be a more unjust comparison; whereas that book is boring, pretentious, and full of bullshit, "Girlbomb" is visceral, exciting, and honest. ( )
2 vote _________jt_________ | May 16, 2011 |
An interesting story about a trying time for a teenage girl. Picked it up on a whim and was not disappointed. ( )
  joyfiction | Feb 8, 2011 |
Felt misled by title and book jacket. Lots of drug use and less about being homeless. Thought her home life was really not as horrible compared to other residents at the shelter and group home. ( )
  LynnSigman | Dec 8, 2010 |
Janet Erlbaum left home rather than face possible physical abuse by her mother's lover. She lands in the frayed New York City child services safety net. Her first stop is a group home where she's preyed upon because she's one of the few white girls, and not nearly as streetwise as the other residents. Other way stations in the safety net are not quite as bad, but none really prove adequate to provide real safety for children like Janet. Erlbaum doesn't seem to have written this memoir to indict this system; it is rather how she managed to emerge from it wounded yet not wholly broken. My guess is that New York's children social services are better than most states and cities. Whether this is true or not, "Girlbomb" is yet another document that shows how this country fails in caring for at-risk children. ( )
  chorn369 | Feb 18, 2010 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0812974565, Paperback)

At fifteen, sick of her unbearable and increasingly dangerous home life, Janice Erlbaum walked out of her family’s Brooklyn apartment and didn’t look back. From her first frightening night at a shelter, Janice knew she was in over her head. She was beaten up, shaken down, and nearly stabbed by a pregnant girl. But it was still better than living at home. As Janice slipped further into street life, she nevertheless attended high school, harbored crushes, and even played the lead in the spring musical. She also roamed the streets, clubs, bars, and parks of New York City with her two best girlfriends, on the prowl for hard drugs and boys on skateboards. Together they scored coke at Danceteria, smoked angel dust in East Village squats, commiserated over their crazy mothers, and slept with one another’s boyfriends on a regular basis.

A wry, mesmerizing portrait of being underprivileged, underage, and underdressed in 1980s New York City, Girlbomb provides an unflinching look at street life, survival sex, female friendships, and first loves.

“A fast and engrossing read in the spirit of Girl, Interrupted.”
–Entertainment Weekly

“Gripping . . . a wry, compelling memoir of what it means to stand up for yourself, especially when no one else will.”

“How satisfying to watch Erlbaum survive adolescence and produce a smart, engaging book.”
–The New York Times Book Review

“Erlbaum’s survival is hard-won, the journey rendered with page-turning intensity.”
–New York Post

“A fast and engrossing read in the spirit of Girl, Interrupted.”
–Entertainment Weekly

“Gritty . . . perversely riveting. You want her to survive.”
–The Washington Post Book World

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:12:04 -0400)

At 15, sick of her mom's spineless reactions to abusive men--and afraid of her stepfather's unpredictable behavior--Janice Erlbaum walked out of her family's apartment and never returned. From her first frightening night at a shelter, trying to sleep in a large room filled with yelling girls, Janice knew she was in over her head. She was beaten up, shaken down, and nearly stabbed--but it was still better than home. She was halfway homeless, one step away from being sent "upstate to Lockdown." Yet she continued to attend high school, harbor crushes, even play the lead in the spring production of Guys and Dolls. She also roamed the streets, clubs, bars, and parks of New York City with her two girlfriends, on the prowl for hard drugs and boys on skateboards. This is an unflinching look at street life, survival sex, female friendships, and first loves.--From publisher description.… (more)

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