At the Edge of the Haight

At the Edge of the Haight

Book - 2021
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The 10th Winner of the 2019 PEN/Bellwether Prize for Socially Engaged Fiction, Awarded by Barbara Kingsolver

"What a read this is, right from its startling opening scene. But even more than plot, it's the richly layered details that drive home a lightning bolt of empathy. To read At the Edge of the Haight is to live inside the everyday terror and longings of a world that most of us manage not to see, even if we walk past it on sidewalks every day. At a time when more Americans than ever find themselves at the edge of homelessness, this book couldn't be more timely."
-- Barbara Kingsolver, author of Unsheltered and The Poisonwood Bible

Maddy Donaldo, homeless at twenty, has made a family of sorts in the dangerous spaces of San Francisco's Golden Gate Park. She knows whom to trust, where to eat, when to move locations, and how to take care of her dog. It's the only home she has. When she unwittingly witnesses the murder of a young homeless boy and is seen by the perpetrator, her relatively stable life is upended. Suddenly, everyone from the police to the dead boys' parents want to talk to Maddy about what she saw. As adults pressure her to give up her secrets and reunite with her own family before she meets a similar fate, Maddy must decide whether she wants to stay lost or be found. Against the backdrop of a radically changing San Francisco, a city which embraces a booming tech economy while struggling to maintain its culture of tolerance, At the Edge of the Haight follows the lives of those who depend on makeshift homes and communities.

As judge Hillary Jordan says, "This book pulled me deep into a world I knew little about, bringing the struggles of its young, homeless inhabitants--the kind of people we avoid eye contact with on the street--to vivid, poignant life. The novel demands that you take a close look. If you knew, could you still ignore, fear, or condemn them? And knowing, how can you ever forget?"
Publisher: Chapel Hill, North Carolina : Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill, 2021.
Edition: First edition.
Copyright Date: ©2021
ISBN: 9781643750231
Branch Call Number: SELIGMAN
Characteristics: 296 pages ; 22 cm


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Feb 17, 2021

Interesting story about the day-to-day life of a young homeless woman in San Francisco. If you're looking for a thriller, you'll probably be disappointed in this fairly slow-paced story. The whole witnessing a murder takes a backseat to the daily minutiae of survival: getting food, finding a safe place to sleep, caring for her dog, and avoiding the police. I did enjoy this book, but the plot summary may be a little misleading.

Jan 19, 2021

While I enjoyed this book about a 20-year-old homeless girl living in Golden Gate Park, I was left incomplete after reading it. Is it about a girl who witnessed a murder or about homelessness? Are all homeless people as intelligent and put together as Maddy and her friends? Even with the challenges of their childhood why is homelessness their choice? The father of the murdered boy does not seem realistic nor does the support he offers Maddy. The story is at its best when talking about how the homeless survive day to day. That being said, I think this book would inspire a lot of talk as a book club choice and would make an interesting introduction to a discussion with people who work with the homeless. Maybe I’d get some of my questions answered.


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