Summary: 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. - randomhouse.com
A few months ago, I received a copy of HAVE YOU FOUND HER by Janice Erlbaum, and I thought it was an amazing book (I'll try to review it in the very near future). After reading that book, I just knew that I had to read her first one GIRLBOMB: A Halfway Homeless Memoir. I must admit that I was blown away by this story too. I read the book in two sittings (which isn't easy when you have two kids) because I couldn't put it down. I just had to keep reading because I wanted to know how she managed to "survive" her experience. At 15 (which I still consider a little girl), she left home and was basically on her own living in various homes and shelters. Although she says that she never slept on the streets, she went through more in her first 18 years than most of do in a lifetime.
I think the book affected me even more because Ms. Erlbaum grew up in the 80s - she actually graduated from high school the same year that I did. I was fascinated by her story because it couldn't have been more different than mine. The stories of her friendships, drug use and promiscuity were frightening for me (especially as a mother of a young daughter); however, I did feel better after I finished the book. The reader was left with the positive feeling that Janice was an extremely smart young woman, had realized her weaknesses, and would find her way.
I was very impressed with Ms. Erlbaum's writing style. It was a very readable, honest book about a time in her life that must have been very difficult to write about. She also managed to infuse some humor into a very sad, scary book. I highly suggest GIRLBOMB -- it's a great read and there are a lot of issues to think about and discuss. If you are interested in learning more about Ms. Erlbaum, she also has a very interesting website.