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Where I Live

3.52  ·  Rating details ·  705 ratings  ·  150 reviews
This evocative debut YA novel tells the story of Linden, a homeless teen secretly living in her high school. Together with her makeshift family of close friends, Linden struggles against the hardships of her past and begins to shape a bright future. Perfect for fans of Jennifer Niven and Nicola Yoon,this is a stirring novel about overcoming all odds.

Hardcover, 352 pages
Published February 27th 2018 by HarperTeen
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Average rating 3.52  · 
Rating details
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Brenda Rufener
Oct 19, 2016 added it  ·  (Review from the author)
So excited for you to meet Linden on February 27, 2018! She's a homeless teen with a lot of courage and a giant heart. I won't rate my own book, but I want to share some early reviews with you.

"Where I Live is hard-hitting and real and filled with hope. It makes you want to find your voice, find your people, and tell your story." - Jennifer Niven, New York Times bestselling author of All the Bright Places and Holding Up the Universe

"A touching and timely look at a girl on the brink of disappeari
Rachel Solomon
Jun 29, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: electric-18s
In WHERE I LIVE, Brenda Rufener explores homelessness in a uniquely wrenching way, one that forced me to confront my own privilege. Poverty is a topic still so rarely explored in YA. Most protagonists are upper-middle-class, and money only becomes an issue when it's time for college. The daily life of someone with so little -- that's what we see here, and it's so needed. The struggle to eat, to bathe, to find a place to sleep.

The matter-of-fact way Linden, who secretly lives in her high school,
Amber (Books of Amber)

I've never read a book about a homeless person before, so when I saw Where I Live pop up on Edelweiss, I had to grab it. I have incredibly mixed feelings about this book, and I struggled to figure out how to rate it after I read it. Having sat on it for a couple of days, I think I've finally figured it out.

On the one hand, it was great to read about Linden, who had been homeless for a while. I've never read a YA book that explores poverty in this way, or even to this extent. I wish poverty

Sophie Elaina
This book is a very honest account of girl who is homeless and continues to hide it while attending high school along everyone else her age. But no one knows that she also lives there. Linden has friends that love her and would help her if they new the truth but the thing is; she just can’t risk it, so her whole life hangs in the balance of keeping such a huge secret.

Homelessness is a very real situation for so many people that is more common than anyone would want to think. I’ve never read abo
Samantha (WLABB)
This book, this book, this book! Talk about a makes-me-happy read. This one gets all the stars, all the hearts, all the rainbows. I just loved it so much! ❤️

I had originally re-arranged my weekly TBR to read a light-hearted romance before this one, because I suspected a story about a homeless teen and an abused teen would make me a little sad, and there were some parts where I felt sad (and mad), but mostly, this book made me feel happy.

•Pro: Linden was so easy to root for. She essentially had s
Melissa (thereaderandthechef)
PinkAmy loves books, cats and naps
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jan 23, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: reads-of-2018, arcs
*Thank you to Edelweiss and the publisher for a copy in exchange for an honest review!*

"The worst part about lying to those you love is that you question if they are worth the truth."

Wow. I mean, seriously. I went into this book with a bit of hesitation. I wasn't really in the mood for it, and I was a tad bitter that chronological preference was going to have me read it before All of This Is True. Then I read the first chapter.

Right off the bat, I knew this was going to be a whirlwind of emo
Jul 30, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This is another 2018 debut that I've been eager to get my hands on ever since I first heard about it. I can't honestly think of another book about a homeless teen, written for teens, that I've ever seen (though I'm sure they exist). Rufener writes Linden's story with such sensitivity and nuance; what I love best about WHERE I LIVE is that it's not a story of a high school girl's homelessness, it's a story about a high school girl, dealing with regular high school girl problems (homecoming! boys! ...more
Sarah {Literary Meanderings}

♥ Find my reviews here: Literary Meanderings

- - -

Yet another "on the fence" book for me. Sigh. This is the year for ON THE FENCERS with me.

Alright, let's start with a quick rundown of the story. Basically Linden is a homeless teen. She is in hiding, sort of, right in front of everyone's eyes. She sleeps in her high school or outside of it in the dugout on the baseball field. She gets food from friends or she doesn't really eat. She bathes in the school bathroom/locker room. She carries her life
Sep 01, 2019 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: teen
The premise was great, but the execution was awful. The writing style is just really odd and disjointed for a teen book (or any fiction). Individual scenes are choppy, the transitions don’t work, and the characters are rather flat. The plot meanders and lacks any sort of impetus. It’s a book that doesn’t know what it wants to be... there’s a good story in there somewhere, but the flaws make it a tedious reading experience.
Amber Smith
Aug 01, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: ya, books-i-blurbed
A powerful, stirring debut, WHERE I LIVE takes us on a journey into a hidden world that exists all around us—exploring homelessness, poverty, love, and grief with insight, sensitivity, and most of all, hope. A 2018 must-read!

*I received an ARC*
Jun 26, 2017 rated it really liked it
4.5 stars - As expected, Where I Live is an incredibly powerful book. It snuck up on me and simply stole my breath away. In addition to raising the very needed and important topic of teen homelessness, Where I Live is a beautifully crafted novel that examines relationships in all their forms, and balances heartbreak with hope, offsetting challenges that knock you to your knees with the joy of living.

Linden is hiding in plain sight. Every day she handles a million tiny details to ensure that no
Jen Ryland
Feb 24, 2018 marked it as setting-aside-for-now  ·  review of another edition
I see that some of my GR friends loved this. The first chapter started out strong but for me it just got slow and weird over the next couple chapters.

Will wait for more reviews to come it - opinions seem mixed...

Read more of my reviews on! Check out my Bookstagram! Or check out my Jen In Ten reviews on Youtube - get the lowdown on current books in 10-30 seconds!

Thanks to the publisher for providing an advance copy for review!
I really feel like my life is more worth it for reading this emotionally book!
The book that I recently read is "Where I live" By an amazing and talented author Brenda Rufener
The book made me feel a lot of things that I never knew about I wish everyone learns those what the author has taught me through the book.
The characters are well build I almost forgot it is a fiction book and this is why I give this book a 5/5 stars with no doubt. 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟
I loved and enjoyed it from the beggining to the end
There were some lovely aspects of his book. Friendship. Kindness. Exploration of family. But ultimately I felt the author tried to tackle too many “issues” and it just led to the book feeling chaotic and rather disjointed. I hoped for more.
Joanne O'Sullivan
Brenda Rufener does an amazing job bringing the realities of being a homeless teen to life in an engaging narrative that's both challenging and hopeful. With empathy and humor, she presents a teen (Linden) who is a normal girl having to deal with extrodinarily difficult circumstances; living a double life with friends and crushes and walking the line one step away from disaster. The characters are well rounded and relatable- making the challenges they go through all the more heartbreaking. ...more
DNF at 75%.

I LOVE the concept of this homeless teenage girl that secretly lives in her school, but this writing style just doesn't flow well for me. We are given hardly no backstory as to why she's homeless and we don't see enough of her trying to survive, on page.

The writing is also very choppy, which made me very confused whenever dialogue happened between characters.

I'm disappointed.
Isabel (The Reader & The Chef)
You can also find this review at The Reader and the Chef. Thanks to the publisher for the review copy in exchange of my honest opinion.

Where I Live was an amazing read for me. It was a fast-paced book and I finished it all in one sitting. It has definitely become one of my very favorite contemporary reads.

What I Liked:

I love the main character. Linden Rose is such a sweet, smart, good-hearted, cunning and likeable character. I enjoyed reading her story and every aspect of her life. She is a home
Lauren Deal
I read an ARC of Where I Live, and I had mixed feelings. I liked that the book tackled the subject of homelessness, and it was eye-opening to see how Linden had to live - trying to find places to sleep and ways to prevent anyone from realizing the truth. There were several places where the book was just confusing though, especially the Homecoming dance; I was trying to follow the action and figure out what was going on but the action was so chaotic and confusing that it was hard to understand wh ...more
*Source* Edelweiss
*Genre* Young Adult, Contemporary
*Rating* 3-3.5


Where I Live is Brenda Rufener’s debut novel. Rufener tells the story of a homeless teen named Linden Rose who has three distinct rules for survival: Rule 1: Prevent in-class naps, Rule 2: Never carry too many belongings, Rule 3: Avoid looking the part. Linden's rules guarantee that no one, not even her best friends who she calls the Triangle, learn that she lives in the halls of their high school, and has been doing so f
M. Lynne
May 13, 2016 rated it it was amazing
As a high school student, it was refreshing to see the lives of teens so accurately portrayed in WHERE I LIVE. The characters were realistic and well developed, and the challenges they faced were relatable. Also, Linden was easy to identify with, despite not being homeless myself. The novel tackled homelessness in a way that made it seem like Linden, while still struggling with the important issue of homelessness, was a normal teenager with normal, teenage problems.
Ashley Wells
Mar 08, 2018 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
DNF at 10%. I loved the synopsis and thought it sounded promising, but the writing was horribly choppy and difficult to follow. I found myself re-reading sentences/paragraphs after being puzzled about what was happening.
Mar 27, 2018 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Sara Strand
Feb 23, 2018 rated it really liked it
In this book we follow high school senior, Linden Rose, as she navigates her last year of high school while homeless. She's only homeless if you don't consider her home, the school, an actual home. She has an entire process to stay under the radar, of how to get into the building after hours, and what to do if she can't. It's a heartbreaking look at the reality of a lot of students among us. She was able to be a mini adult after the murder of her mother and she didn't want to get sucked into the ...more
Mar 10, 2018 rated it liked it
This book could've been much better, but it fell somewhat flat. I truly felt for Linden, her situation was terrible and I wanted to root for her much more than I did. However, much of the plot didn't quite work for me. I feel like there was little background on why Linden was in this situation, and I understand why the author did it this way, but someone needed to notice something sooner. Linden and her friends made fun of the principal and many of the teachers at the school for not noticing thi ...more
Lindsay Marie
This was a very eye opening account of a girl who was homeless and fell through the cracks of society. She is living at her school in the evenings, but none of her friends or teachers know. It was heartbreaking to read her struggle to survive with almost no money, clothes, or food. She is forced to sneak extra food at friends' houses or scrape up enough change for the vending machine in order to eat. It is through her relationships with her friends at school that she is able to have a happy life ...more
Jun 18, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Where I Live by Brenda Rufener is a young adult story that really is about how we define home, friendship, and family. Linden Rose is homeless and desperate to keep that fact a secret. As Linden deals with high school life and the issues involved in trying to appear to have a normal life while not having a home to sleep at the struggles get more complicated with budding love and evidence of violence. Linden just wants to keep her head down, but she can't deny the evidence in front of her. The qu ...more
Mar 09, 2022 rated it really liked it
Highly recommended book about a homeless teen who actually lives in her high school. Reference to a disturbing event in her past keeps you reading and wanting to know... what happened?

Unbeknownst to her friends, high school senior Linden Rose is homeless and living in their high school. She tries hard to stay under everyone's radar, but when a fellow classmate exhibits signs of physical abuse at the hands of her boyfriend and Linden is privy to some of their more volatile moments, she becomes a
Anna Henderson
Nov 11, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I was given an uncorrected advance copy in exchange for an honest review. While reading this story I went from smiling to actual tears. I love the view of the main character, Linden, and how unique her personality is. While I was sympathetic for her situation I was still sitting on the edge of my seat to see what would happen next. The book is a romance mixed with the struggle Linden has living on her own high school, and somehow it all ties together.
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Brenda Rufener is a technical writer turned novelist and the author of WHERE I LIVE, which Bustle named a most anticipated YA contemporary book hitting shelves in 2018 and Jennifer Niven called a “hard-hitting novel filled with hope.”

SINCE WE LAST SPOKE, Brenda’s second young adult novel, arrived April 2019 and received a starred review from School Library Journal, among other honors.

When not wr

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