WITHOUT A NET: Middle Class and Homeless (with Kids) in America: My Story

Michelle Kennedy, Author . Viking $23.95 (224p) ISBN 978-0-670-03366-9

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.)

Reviewed on: 10/18/2004
Release date: 03/01/2005
Genre: Nonfiction
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