U.S. woman documents homelessness in memoir

Thu May 12, 2011 10:46am EDT
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By Nick Olivari

NEW YORK (Reuters Life!) - Brianna Karp has had an unfortunate life -- sexual abuse, date rape, an unhappy Internet love affair and homelessness.

But the 26-year-old from southern California, has still managed to find the joy in living and tells her story in "The Girl's Guide to Homelessness: A Memoir," which is published this month.

It's an ongoing story, reality television in print. After the broad brush memories in the initial pages the book moves to the central theme -- homelessness and urban survival.

All along the way it's harrowing, even when the reader can suspect what comes next and the end result is a book deal. Karp now lives in a converted shed on a dirt lot. Whatever success she has achieved she attributes not to being brilliant or smart but perhaps to be more determined.

"I have my sad times when I just want to cry and say I can't do it anymore. Then I cry, get up and get moving. What's your other option?" she said.

Karp's tribulations began early with a broken home but life started to look up when she was able to make her own decisions. Raised as a Jehovah's Witness she rejected the church, moved away from her family and took care of herself until she lost her job.

After an unsuccessful job hunt she inherited her father's 30-foot (10-meter) trailer after his suicide and learned she can camp out in the parking lots of certain Wal-Mart stores if she remained discreet.

The arrangement made her less than technically homeless, an advantage Karp acknowledges but emphasizes there are various degrees of homelessness.   Continued...

<p>Author Brianna Karp in an undated photo. REUTERS/Courtesy of Harlequin</p>