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Criminal of Poverty: Growing Up Homeless in America Paperback – November 1, 2006

4.4 out of 5 stars 7 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

"Challenges the reader to let go of clichés and catch phrases about the poor and homeless . . . " -- devorah major, author of "where river meets ocean" and "Brown Glass Windows"

"If your heart is unmoved when you finish this memoir, then it's made of stone." -- Ayelet Waldman, author of "Love and Other Impossible Pursuits"

"Lays bare the devastating effects of inheriting a life of poverty, as well the real redemption and power in finding your voice." -- Michelle Tea, author of "Rose of No Man's Land" and "Valencia"

"She opens up an important window onto a reality looked upon by many but truly seen by few . . . " -- Piri Thomas, author of "Down These Mean Streets"

"We are not the same after reading this hellish tale of a young girl's struggle to survive." -- Yannick Murphy, author of "Here They Come"

About the Author

Lisa Gray-Garcia became homeless at the age of 11. She is the founder of POOR Magazine, a literary and visual arts magazine, and Poor News Network (PNN), a monthly radio show focusing on issues of poverty and racism. Her journalism has been featured in Common Dreams, the SF Chronicle, as well as many other local and national media outlets.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 287 pages
  • Publisher: City Lights Foundation Books (November 1, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1931404070
  • ISBN-13: 978-1931404075
  • Product Dimensions: 5.4 x 0.7 x 8.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.9 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,314,683 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

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Top Customer Reviews

By Cynthia Eaton on June 5, 2007
Format: Paperback
I literally could NOT put this book down. To say that TINY (aka, Lisa Gray-Garcia)is a gifted writer somehow minimizes her incredible tenacity of spirit, dignity, and the insurmountable love and intelligence she possesses in order to have lived the life she has lived, accomplished the things that she accomplished, and still lived to tell the story with such grace, insight, humor, and depth of character for the benefit of others.

This eye-opening, lucid description about an 11-year old girl who drops out of school because she and her single-mom are homeless . . . that eventually leads to her acquiring a PhD about the criminalization of poverty in the USA, through the "school of hard knocks," is a must read for every civic leader, politician, and CEO; every McKinney-Vento Homeless Education Coordinator, superintendent, school administrator, teacher, school nurse or guidance counselor; every public, private, or non-profit family support services manager, case manager, socialworker, or child and family advocate . . . and, yes, I daresay, every voting American in this nation. Where is the creativity in OUR lives and OUR work, and in the work we do for others??
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Format: Paperback
Lisa "Tiny" Grey-Garcia graced our bookstore in Philadelphia with her

presence and incredible thoughts. She came off as incredibly

intelligent, very creative, and a very likable person. She is the

founder of POOR magazine, dedicated to the poor when all the other

magazines seem dedicated to people who don't need anymore dedication

(rockstars, politicians, actors, etc.). When at the Shoe, she talked

about strength through organization and treating people in that

organization like family, even when you want to butt heads with them.

She talked about strength through art and how even in a life of

constant struggle, you never give up, especially when the entire

culture is set against you (peppering her speech with phrases like

DWP, or "driving while poor", underlining her crystal clear thoughts

on our society). She had a beautiful picture of her mother, Mama Dee,

who she was close was with her entire life.

I had to read her book after listening to her speak. In

"Criminal of Poverty: Growing Up Homeless in America", Garcia lays out

her origins through telling the story of her grandmother who

immigrated from Ireland and had to make hard choices, her mother Dee,

her wealthy father who left them to fend for themselves, and finally

herself. Her mother could not work a job because of disability, so the

two eked a living on their own wits. The story traces Tiny and Mama

Dee growing as legends in Venice Beach, California, telling their

stories and making it by through art and selling t-shirts, and

eventually taking their "po' art" up to San Francisco.
Read more ›
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Format: Paperback
Tiny's memoir is an amazing behind the scenes look at homelessness in the United States. Activists can argue forever about what parts race-class-gender make in social problems--or they can just read the book.

I would have loved for Tiny to unleash her amazing mind on solutions to poverty and inequality. However, as a blistering critique of bureaucracy and class contempt this book is spot-on.
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Format: Paperback
If it sounds impossible that one can be literate with a doctor father and a psychologist mother and yet be homeless for most of one's life, you can't imagine Tiny's story. Her father threatens to take custody of Tiny if mother pushes for decent child support. Her mixed-race mother was raised in a series of foster homes and has no family or savings. When government cutbacks dissolve her job, it is a short step to the streets. You can almost envy the creativity and resourcefulness Tiny learns on the streets, but it would be meaningless if she didn't finally get help in making the transition to a more stable life.
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