Sharina's Reviews > The Girl's Guide to Homelessness: A Memoir

The Girl's Guide to Homelessness by Brianna Karp
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's review
Oct 17, 2011

did not like it
Read in October, 2011

Anyone with a brain who reads this book and thinks for a moment this author is playing with a full deck needs to have their own head examined. This book is not about homelessness. Forget the argument about whether or not she can be considered homeless with a roof over her head, a cell phone, laptop, or trips to Europe. I think she brilliantly parlayed a homeless stint into a book deal. Part way through she did a switch from a subject which is a very real concern, into a self-absorbed fantasy about her life in order to publicly chastise those in her past who hurt her.

If you cannot see from the first few chapters how an abusive upbringing colored this girl's imagination, or perception of her own reality, then you have no idea how an adult who is a product of mental illness can be fragmented and broken. The apple does not fall far from the tree, despite the fact that this author repeatedly claims that she somehow miraculously escaped the pathology that entrenches her. Among the cast of characters are her mother (Bi-Polar abusive) her grandmother (crazy abusive hoarder) her father (abusive sex offender who committed suicide) etc. I am concerned that she has herself so convinced that she is sane that she may never get the help she so desperately needs. Such is the challenge with BPD. At times, they can be so lucid and "on" that no one would ever think they wrestled with mental illness. The chink in the armor occurs because they can never perform consistently for any period of time.

The author states early on in the book that she is not mentally ill. Does that make it so? Remember Ted, the homeless man with the golden voice? He claimed to be 2 years sober. The public loved it. He was offered a broadcast job, was reunited with his family, then promptly fell apart on a family reunion on network TV. He was not sober. He lied. People with mental illness lie because it is their coping mechanism. The public wants to believe them, because it makes for a good humanitarian story.

For me, the more I read, the clearer the picture I received. She is a victim of child abuse and her defense is to create her reality by presenting herself as sane, calm, rational and intellectual. Lying is a coping mechanism. She has probably been doing it for so long she doesn't really know what is truth anymore. Between the lines, she emerges as a classic example of Borderline Personality Disorder. She is just sane enough to be able to fool some of the people some of the time. I actually went on her blog to see if there is any current information. There is not. My hope is that she does seek professional help.
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Comments (showing 1-3 of 3) (3 new)

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Alicia While I think this book was VERY skewed, and I think Brianna has a few self-reflective blind spots, I think this review is a bit harsh. I also think that people outside of and observing a situation are far to quick to jump into the role of armchair psychologist and pick a diagnosis out of the air because it's close to something they read about, saw on Dr. Phil, or their best friend from junior high has it. Do I think Brianna is articulately coming of as a defensive victim? Yes, I do. But I think we need to be careful about labels like these when we're unqualified to place them.

message 2: by Kate (new) - rated it 1 star

Kate I think this is an excellent review!
Alicia's insight into this author's mental illness is right on. Mental illness untreated is dangerous! And contagious.I have learned with having to deal with many mentally ill persons, treated and untreated to choice carefully my involvement with one;the lying and deception is a recipe for disaster. This author needs help and a lot of soul searching. Thank you Alicia for your review!!

Nancy That was what I dx her with.

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