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Home Street Home: The Virginia Beach Chronicles
Georgia Saunders

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Relationships are hard. Being homeless is hard. Combine the two and it's something nightmares can flourish in. In Home Street Home, the people you meet are in homeless situations that exist - and while vacationers are spending hundreds a day on leisure. I admit, I don't know how to begin to stop the homeless situation, but safety nets, do not seem to be available to too many of us.

This is volume one (of three). Here, you meet Ella. She will unwillingly break your heart, while her story unfolds. Ella is an older woman who never quite took care of herself (financially). She left that to her husband...

Then when circumstances make it immediate and she needs to she discovers a few relatively small missteps send her to the world of the homeless; at 60. Ella is old school and you are sure to find her both frustrating and lovable. You squirm as you read, inevitably living on the streets start to change her.

This is true-life drama that will grab you by the throat, shake you for a good long spell, and then release you to take a gasping breath and look around you, down-sizing, or plod-to-work-a-day sorrows be, and just be ever so thankful that, perhaps, you can still afford to buy a weekly Starbucks coffee without worry.

Others the author introduces equally fascinating. They are well rounded and drawn out for the reader quite remarkably. And make no mistake, you are privy to people behaving badly in a bad situation, angelic though how can they keep their humanity, and a few that you don't understand how they even want to be together in a off kilter love affair; though being alone on the streets may seem worse than in a mentally (or physically) abusive relationship - reading from a warm bed and roofed cottage, one can not judge.

Saunders knows her subjects - they are so real. And this is a part of America too often not talked about. And these people "live" in a rich tourist section of the beachfront.

You may want to throw the book a few times, as you read how manipulated the woman is. But then she gives it right back. It's like Taylor and Burton without any money and they fell into a Tennessee Williams play - that's not a play at all ...but their everyday.

This Saunders can write. Her characters are stay-with-you strong. You'll want all three books; this is the first volume of three. Each opens up a vivid-if-terriying window into America's sad under class.

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