From Publishers Weekly
You'd think it'd take a while to go from "given-every-opportunity, spoiled-in-every-way... middle-class housewife... to homeless single mother," but Kennedy did it in less than a year. Just some "bad judgment calls and wrong decisions," and a smart young former Senate page and promising college student found herself, at 25, living in a station wagon with her three young children, making pots of ramen noodles at campgrounds and showering at truck stops. Oddly enough, once readers learn the details, the story of Kennedy's downfall goes from being unlikely to horribly plausible. Her parents couldn't cover her tuition, but she couldn't get financial aid unless she was independent or married. So she married her boyfriend, got pregnant, dropped out and had two more children. Meanwhile, on a back-to-the-land kick, her husband moved the family to rural Maine. His neglect almost killed one child, so Kennedy left him and took the kids to a small coastal Maine town. Finding waitressing work was simple; finding affordable child care or an apartment that a landlord would rent to someone in her situation was impossible. So Kennedy improvised—lots. While the details are fascinating, they'd also be quite depressing if it weren't for the subplot of Kennedy falling in love with a co-worker. Indeed, her romance with this hunk absolutely hijacks the homelessness story—but readers will be too engrossed to care.
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Kennedy recounts how she metamorphosed from a carefree college student into a homeless 24-year-old with three children by making some "bad judgment calls," the first of which was marrying her boyfriend to be eligible for financial aid. Three children come in unplanned succession, her back-to-nature husband moves the family to a rural cabin with no electricity, and his negligence nearly kills their daughter. These are the catalysts leading to Kennedy's double life: she looks normal enough at the pub where she waitresses, but she and her three children are sleeping in their Subaru, showering at a truck stop, and boiling Ramen noodles on a campground grill. Unwilling to confide her desperate situation to her parents, she finally saves enough for the first month's rent and security deposit on a small apartment, an impossible accomplishment for so many homeless people, as Kennedy elucidates in her compelling epilogue, which lays bare the economic causes of homelessness, and describes agencies to which she could have turned for help had she been less stubborn and better informed. Deborah DonovanCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved