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Almost Home Paperback – July 14, 2009
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The streets of Los Angeles offer an escape to a group of teenagers. Boredom, family issues and sexual abuse led them away from home, and now seven teens struggle to survive on the streets. Through Tracy, a junk-addicted porn star, Eeyore, Rusty, Squid, Critter, Scabius and Laura form a rough community with its own dynamics and hostilities. When 12-year-old Eeyore gets caught up in drugs and prostitution, Tracy has a chance to redeem them both. Rather than alternating the narrator each chapter, Blank gives each voice its own section in turn. With characters ranging in age and experience, the narrative cohesion could easily deteriorate, but skillful blending by the author prevents such muddling. Calculated emotionless presentation of the street-sex trade helps communicate the bleak circumstances in which many homeless youths find themselves; this contrasts nicely with the burgeoning relationships that develop between the teens, especially Squid's passion for a family. The author's note offers resources for both at-risk and street teens. Examining the ties that bring people together and force them apart, this is a harsh and honest view of homeless teen life in the city of angels. (Fiction. YA) -- Kirkus Reviews, September 15, 2007 --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
About the Author
Jessica Blank is a young writer and actress who has worked in television and film as well as in theaters throughout New York. She wrote the award-winning and hugely successful play,The Exonerated, about death row inmates who have been falsely convicted and then released after being found innocent. The film version starred Susan Sarandon, Aidan Quinn, Danny Glover and Brian Dennehy.
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Top Customer Reviews
Her appearance changes right away; after shoplifting hair dye, she gets purple hair, and a homemade lip ring. Even after the story changes to Rusty, who's run away to be with his older male teacher who never quite makes it there, we're left wondering about Eeyore, whose fate is slowly revealed throughout the stories. Blank's words glide off the page, and she shows both how tough these teens have to be, and appear, to make it on the outskirts of society. She and her characters repeatedly contrast their dumpy surroundings, a series of alleys behind taco stands and donut shops, with the lush, rich hills and suburban trappings around them. The tension between what they have and what they want, their conflicting philosophies about what it takes to survive on the streets, gets played out in often painful ways between the characters, who only have each other to rely on but still struggle to be as independent as they can. Their jealousy over Eeyore's supposed home she can flee to, which eventually drives her from the group, is tragic yet understandable.
Blank is to be commended for not skirting around the issues; she deals with homosexuality, abuse, poverty, loneliness, love, and friendship, and it's often in what her characters don't say that we see what they mean. Of her alienated schoolmates, Eeyore says early on, "I thought the whole point of being a misfit was you're always looking for the other people like you. Loneliness is like a vacuum; it's supposed to suck the other lonely people in like dust till finally it fills up and you're not lonely anymore." As harrowing as life on the streets is for her and the others, she decides over and over that it's less lonely and painful than what she faces at home. With beautiful prose that's insightful and moving, Blank ultra vividly exposes the faces of teen homelessness in voices that will resonate with teens and adults alike. This is a powerful, important book whose themes are dealt with with the utmost of compassion. Blank's world is one where these young people, who often seem so much wiser than their years, will do almost anything to survive. The community they form, as divisive as any set of teenage friendships, yet both more tenuous and more solid at times, is one that comes to life, and certainly lives on in very real streets across America, in Almost Home.
The story is told in seven chapters, each in the point of view of a young runaway who, for the most part, has fled an abusive home. Each one does what he or she has to do to survive. Their life consists of dumpster-diving to eat, panhandling for change, trying to avoid the cops, selling drugs and it some cases, selling their bodies. It is always sad to read stories about children that have it so bad at home (or lack of home) that they would rather live on the streets. I think the main issue that I had with this boos was that I didn't know enough about the characters. I wanted to know more about what their life was like before they decided to run away. Except for Eeyore, the 12 year old girl who runs away to escape from her stepbrother, I didn't feel like I knew enough about the characters.
I guess I am just being overly critical. I was just expecting more background information on the characters. The story is such a sad one, and it is horrible to think that this is a reality for so many kids today. I'm glad that Blank brought attention to this horrible situation. Many people don't realize how much of a problem this is and I hope that this book opens up people's minds to this sad reality that so many children face everyday.