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Without a Net: Middle Class and Homeless (with Kids) in America: My Storyby Michelle Kennedy
Synopses & Reviews
Michelle Kennedy had a typical middle class American childhood in Vermont. She attended college, interned in the U.S. Senate, married her high school sweetheart and settled in the suburbs of D.C. But the comfortable life she was building quickly fell apart. At age twenty-four Michelle was suddenly single, homeless, and living out of a car with her three small children. She waitressed night shifts while her kids slept out in the diner's parking lot. She saved her tips in the glove compartment, and set aside a few quarters every week for truck stop showers for her and the kids.
With startling humor and honesty, Kennedy describes the frustration of never having enough money for a security deposit on an apartment—but having too much to qualify for public assistance. Without A Net is a story of hope. Michelle Kennedy survives on her wits, a little luck, and a lot of courage. And in the end, she triumphs.
"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. Agent, Patty Moosbrugger. (Feb.)" Publishers Weekly (Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information, Inc.)
At age 24, the author found herself and her three small children living out of the back seat of a car. With humor and honesty, Kennedy describes how a few bad choices and missed chances can push a smart, educated woman across the poverty line--and how she lived by her wits and found the strength she needed to pick up the pieces.
At twenty-four, Michelle Kennedy was an ex-college student, an ex-U.S. Senate intern, an ex- wife, and an ex-member of the middle class. Faced with an untenable home situation, Michelle and her three small children retreated to the only refuge they had leftÂ—the backseat of a Subaru station wagon. Without a Net is one woma‛s true story of scraping the bottom of the American DreamÂ—sleeping in parking lots, showering at campgrounds, and cooking ramen noodles over a public grill for dinner, all while taking care of three kids and working a full-time job. With humor and honesty, Michelle Kennedy describes how a few bad choices can push even a smart, educated woman and loving mother below the poverty line. And how, using her wits, a little luck, and a lot of courage and determination, she survived disaster to create a new home for her family.
About the Author
Michelle Kennedy’s Salon.com piece about this experience touched a nerve: E-mails and letters poured in from readers who wanted the whole story. Kennedy was recently nominated for a Pushcart Prize for her work in Brain, Child magazine. Her work has also appeared in The New York Times and the Christian Science Monitor.
Visit Michelle Kennedy on the web at http://www.mishakennedy.com
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