Publisher : Algonquin Books (January 19, 2021)
Language: : English
Hardcover : 304 pages
ISBN-10 : 1643750232
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?”
On my way home from work every day, I pass by a small homeless encampment under the bridge. One night, I saw a young family with teens as I was waiting for the stop light. In that brief moment, I saw the residents of that small homeless community and wondered to myself how they are surviving. They seem t have formed a community where each of them care for each other, protecting each other, and supporting each other.
Reading this book by Katherine Seligman “At The Edge of the Haight”, really brought me back to what happens in those lives - the homeless population whom we feel are a part of society’s on-going issue, a sign of a deteriorating community, a nuisance, or a problem with the way mental health is being addressed in this country. Seligman did a fantastic job of portraying a very realistic picture of the lives of the young homeless and how some find this as a chosen lifestyle.
The story is entirely captivating, immersive, an eye-opening glimpse into the lives of these young people – including their struggles in this emotional and thought provoking read.
I really enjoyed and loved this book.
Katherine Seligman is a journalist and author who lives in San Francisco. She has been a writer at the San Francisco Chronicle Magazine, a reporter at the San Francisco Examiner and a correspondent at USA Today. Her work has appeared in Redbook, Life, Money, California Magazine, the anthology Fresh Takes and elsewhere.