cover image A Place Called Home: A Memoir

A Place Called Home: A Memoir

David Ambroz. Legacy Lit, $30 (384p) ISBN 978-0-306-90354-0

In this captivating debut, Ambroz, a national poverty and child welfare advocate, recounts his harrowing experience with homelessness and as a child in the foster care system. Raised in the 1990s in New York City by a schizophrenic, abusive mother, Ambroz and his siblings learned self-reliance early on as they bounced between homeless shelters and dangerous nights spent living on the streets. Eventually, Ambroz’s mother’s physical abuse became so extreme that he reported her and was subsequently thrown into foster care. But as Ambroz reveals in unflinching flashbacks, the system proved to be no sanctuary, rotating him through a series of group homes over the next few years that ranged from neglectful to abusive, before he finally met and moved in with a stable, loving family. At age 17, with the help of his attorney and social worker, Ambroz was able to emancipate himself a year early from the foster care system, after which he attended Vassar college and finally came out as a gay man. While the narration occasionally lags, Ambroz’s triumph over adversity will stir readers’ sympathies, as will his clear-eyed critique of the nation’s broken foster care system: “When it comes to ailments of the poor... poverty programs treat the symptoms, never the system that produced them.” Galvanizing and compassionate, this personal account of survival should be required reading. (Sept.)