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Girlbomb: A Halfway Homeless Memoir by…
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Girlbomb: A Halfway Homeless Memoir

by Janice Erlbaum

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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 |
if you really like Blackbird a memoir

Bust editor taps in to her adolescent self ( )
  aletheia21 | Jan 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.”
–Bust

“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 Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:33:59 -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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