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Have You Found Herby Janice Erlbaum
Synopses & Reviews
And every week, there was the unspoken question, the one I didnt know enough to ask myself : Have you found her yet? The one who reminds you of you?
Twenty years after she lived at a homeless shelter for teens, Janice Erlbaum went back to volunteer. Now thirty-four years old and a successful writer, shed changed her life for the better; now she wanted to help someone else-someone like the girl shed once been.
Then she met Sam. A brilliant nineteen-year-old junkie savant, the product of a horrifically abusive home, Sam had been surviving alone on the streets since she was twelve and was now struggling for sobriety against the adverse health effects of long-term drug abuse.
Soon Janice found herself caring deeply for Sam, following her through detoxes and psych wards, halfway houses and hospitals, becoming ever more manically driven to save her from the sickness and sadness leftover from Sams terrible past. But just as Janice was on the verge of becoming the girls legal guardian, she made a shocking discovery: Sam was sicker than anyone knew, in ways nobody could have imagined.
Written with startling candor and immediacy, Have You Found Her is the story of one womans quest to save a girls life-and the hard truths she learns about herself along the way.
“A rich and compelling account . . . Ultimately this is a book about the narrators journey and the dangers that attend the urge within us all to believe we can save another soul. A terrific read.”
-Cammie McGovern, author of Eye Contact
"In winter 2004, 34-year-old Erlbaum (Girlbomb) volunteered at the shelter where she herself had lived as a teenager. Dubbed 'The Bead Lady' by the residents, she hefted a large, rattling bag of beadworking supplies to the cafeteria once a week, hoping to reach out to a younger version of herself over jewelry-making sessions — to 'believe in them and listen to them,' as her volunteer-orientation videotape had instructed. When she met Samantha, a charismatic 19-year-old addict with an unyielding resilience in spite of a horrific childhood, Erlbaum knew she'd found a favorite. Though Sam had been on the streets since age 12, she was well read and quite gifted as a writer — a prodigy, it seemed. The two quickly developed a friendship, which deepened over the next several months as Erlbaum comforted Sam through health problems, abuse flashbacks and rehab, promising her a trip to Disney World if she stayed sober. Erlbaum was determined to save Sam and even offered to become her legal guardian. Erlbaum realized that, at times, details in Sam's backstory didn't add up (she was a skilled classical pianist), but these incongruities raised only the occasional, short-lived suspicion. Finally, Erlbaum realized Sam had been lying to her all along (she actually came from a sold middle-class suburb and hadn't had the childhood she described), snookering her out of her time, attention and affection for a year. Erlbaum's narrative begins promisingly, her savior fantasies and insecurities rendered with honesty and self-effacing good humor. However, her conclusions fall flat, missing opportunities to ponder larger issues at work in the story and opting instead for a mere cautionary tale." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
Twenty years after she lived at a homeless shelter for teens, Erlbaum went back to volunteer. There she met Sam, a 19-year-old junkie savant whod been surviving alone on the streets since she was 12. Written with startling candor, this is the story of one womans quest to save a girls life.
About the Author
Janice Erlbaum is the author of Girlbomb: A Halfway Homeless Memoir and Have You Found Her, which was named one of the New York Public Library's 25 Books to Remember. A former columnist for BUST magazine, she lives in New York City with her partner Bill Scurry. You can find her at www.girlbomb.com
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