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A riveting account of a year in the life of a young, homeless single mother, her quest to find stability and shelter in New York City—and the journalist who got too close while telling her story. More than forty-five million Americans attempt to survive under the poverty line, day by day. Nearly 60,000 people sleep in New York City-run shelters every night—forty percent of A riveting account of a year in the life of a young, homeless single mother, her quest to find stability and shelter in New York City—and the journalist who got too close while telling her story. More than forty-five million Americans attempt to survive under the poverty line, day by day. Nearly 60,000 people sleep in New York City-run shelters every night—forty percent of them children. This Is All I Got makes this issue deeply personal, vividly depicting one woman's hope and despair and her steadfast determination to improve her situation, despite the myriad setbacks she encounters. Camila is a twenty-two-year-old new mother. She has no family to rely on, no partner, and no home. Despite her intelligence and determination, the odds are firmly stacked against her. Award-winning journalist Lauren Sandler tells the story of a year in Camila's life—from the birth of her son to his first birthday—as she navigates the labyrinth of poverty and homelessness in America. As Camila attempts to secure a college education and a safe place to raise her son, she copes with dashed dreams, failed relationships, and miles of red tape with grit, grace, and resilience. This Is All I Got is a dramatic story of survival and powerful indictment of a broken system, but it is also a revealing and candid depiction of the relationship between an embedded reporter and her subject and the tricky boundaries to navigate when it's impossible to remain a dispassionate observer.


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A riveting account of a year in the life of a young, homeless single mother, her quest to find stability and shelter in New York City—and the journalist who got too close while telling her story. More than forty-five million Americans attempt to survive under the poverty line, day by day. Nearly 60,000 people sleep in New York City-run shelters every night—forty percent of A riveting account of a year in the life of a young, homeless single mother, her quest to find stability and shelter in New York City—and the journalist who got too close while telling her story. More than forty-five million Americans attempt to survive under the poverty line, day by day. Nearly 60,000 people sleep in New York City-run shelters every night—forty percent of them children. This Is All I Got makes this issue deeply personal, vividly depicting one woman's hope and despair and her steadfast determination to improve her situation, despite the myriad setbacks she encounters. Camila is a twenty-two-year-old new mother. She has no family to rely on, no partner, and no home. Despite her intelligence and determination, the odds are firmly stacked against her. Award-winning journalist Lauren Sandler tells the story of a year in Camila's life—from the birth of her son to his first birthday—as she navigates the labyrinth of poverty and homelessness in America. As Camila attempts to secure a college education and a safe place to raise her son, she copes with dashed dreams, failed relationships, and miles of red tape with grit, grace, and resilience. This Is All I Got is a dramatic story of survival and powerful indictment of a broken system, but it is also a revealing and candid depiction of the relationship between an embedded reporter and her subject and the tricky boundaries to navigate when it's impossible to remain a dispassionate observer.

30 review for This Is All I Got

  1. 4 out of 5

    Joan Cook

    As a trauma psychologist, I have listened to survivors’ stories for over 20 years and am no easy sell. In this incredible book, Lauren Sandler uses immersive journalism, chronicling a year in the life of Camila, a 22-year old, homeless, single mother, as she navigates the labyrinth of finding housing stability and shelter in the richest city on earth. As I entered this dramatic and deeply personal story, I was open to experience and learning. But, what I learned about myself and my own privileges As a trauma psychologist, I have listened to survivors’ stories for over 20 years and am no easy sell. In this incredible book, Lauren Sandler uses immersive journalism, chronicling a year in the life of Camila, a 22-year old, homeless, single mother, as she navigates the labyrinth of finding housing stability and shelter in the richest city on earth. As I entered this dramatic and deeply personal story, I was open to experience and learning. But, what I learned about myself and my own privileges were just as revealing as what I learned about poverty and homelessness in America. Sandler’s storytelling skills are exceptional. She slips in substantive information on the structural and systemic causes of homelessness so deftly, you don’t even realize you’re receiving an education on the deepening inequalities in America. Among other things, we learn that most people in poverty are women, particularly single women of color with children. Neglected by her birth father and abused by her mother, Camila was born into an adverse situation, unsafe circumstances and unsanitary conditions. She didn’t receive the love and care that every child deserves, nor was she able to see healthy appropriate role models of adult functioning. As I followed Camila’s high hopes and pits of despair, I was deeply moved. I cheered at her triumphs and screamed at a few of her unhelpful choices. I grew weary with her as she tried to manage her endless commutes, a sleepless, crying baby, college courses and the shuffle to childcare. I was stupefied at the relentless maze of legalese, and the ineptitude and brutality of the system. I was amazed by Camila’s tenacity to transverse it and cheered for her to bust out. I felt desperate for someone, anyone to give Camila encouragement, respect, a sense of belonging, and a teeny tiny break. I wanted to pick Camila up, rock her in my arms and soothe her like the child that she still was. My hopes would rise as it looked like Camila was finally going to have some luck in this world. And I cried when the system kept delivering crushing blows. It was a privilege to bear such an intimate witness to Camila’s deep psychological pain, her crashing dreams, and humiliations, and her small joys. With Camila’s family’s multigenerational poverty, no models of school or career ambition, you realize how hard it is to live a different life. Even with all of Camila’s tenacity, intelligence, poise, courage, determination, optimism, and a smile on her face. As a therapist, although I hear people’s stories, the vivid detailed descriptions of Camila’s life with constant instability, limited power to effect positive change, and few and brief glimpses of hope gave such a moving perspective. It wasn’t just Camila’s story, but Sandler’s telling it. She is a master -- the perfect phrases, the moving metaphors, an eye for the dramatic, the revealing windows into other people’s lives, the perfectly worded and strategically inserted facts about contributing factors to homelessness, the housing crisis, the broken welfare system, structural inequality and single motherhood. Though hardened and broken in some places, Camila’s skill and resilience in managing these horrendous circumstances was remarkable. And one breathes in Camila’s experiences, one can’t help but to exhale heavy-hearted in the reality, that she is only one among millions of women deeply stuck, struggling to survive. How does anyone make it through our national epidemic of housing instability, and how can we stand by and not strategically intervene for mothers and their children? It’s an investment in humanity and housing vouchers we can’t afford not to make.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Donna Hines

    This book literally has touched so many lives that I can't begin to tell you how crucial a novel this truly is for everyone to read. First, I'm in extreme poverty after divorcing a malignant narcissist in which my 3 kids and self were left bankrupt, homeless, and LT unemployed after giving up career to further his own. No income, no assets, no savings & while locked in is not how I expected to be with a dual masters. What's worse is the commentary from those meant to help. Get a job, plenty of them This book literally has touched so many lives that I can't begin to tell you how crucial a novel this truly is for everyone to read. First, I'm in extreme poverty after divorcing a malignant narcissist in which my 3 kids and self were left bankrupt, homeless, and LT unemployed after giving up career to further his own. No income, no assets, no savings & while locked in is not how I expected to be with a dual masters. What's worse is the commentary from those meant to help. Get a job, plenty of them out there, pull up your bootstraps, she must be lazy, uneducated, on drugs, a baby momma who just wants handouts. I'm also a Points of Light Awardee (courtesy of our 41st President of the USA), the former top producer in 2 departments & associate of the month at Lord and Taylor distribution center (when I did work years ago prior to raising 3 kids solo), they have no concept that jobs for women pay less than poverty and in fact I proved it with this article which in PA is $6.53 difference https://www.cheatsheet.com/culture/st... Those who think you just get a job have zero idea of the past 10 years of job searches in which I'm told to dummy down, overqualified, lack prior work experience, and then leave me in the hallways or lobbies as they go to meetings and ignore my pleas for employment. In my state of Pa we have highest gas tax, highest education costs, with a federal min wage that is 25% less than their counterparts from 48 years ago https://www.cheatsheet.com/culture/st... They say just move if you have difficulty in employment yet they don't understand the legal system much less the child support options available to single moms. I had to chase my ex spouse for over a year and a 1/2 for my 1st payment of $100 for a family of four. This after living a year and 1/2 off credit, eating at food banks and soup kitchens, and yes even local libraries, playgrounds, and gyms. I was on a wait list for over 2 yrs for housing (Section 8) and EBT as it's not just a fill out and receive. The myths surrounding food insecurities and poverty are enormous and wide lasting and have gone on for far too long. In fact my own President of the Al Beech WestSide food bank explains the issues we face daily in this TedX video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HakCA... I've also told my story via Rosa DeLauro on deaf ears to every member of Congress through Community Voices a program by the Poverty to Prosperity Program which you can view on pg 38 here: https://d3b0lhre2rgreb.cloudfront.net... I've also worked on the direct front line of services to the impoverished and I know the reality even as I live it. So, yes what you'll read here is exactly my own experiences and I'll be more than happy to back them up. Poverty as the author illustrates is viewed as an individual rather than a system wide failure. It turns into a blame, shame, fault ridden game rather than a helpful offer to assist with empathy, compassion, concern, and good tidings. "Public assistance is a shrinking and denied entitlement. Housing has ultimately become an unchecked market." As we discussed Camila's future we learn she had ambitions that faltered after constraints placed upon her by the very system meant to help resulting in her criminal justice career (which I have my masters in both CJ and Public Admin.) on hold to become a dishwasher (which may be my demise). "We are defined by who we deem worthy of investment, as an economy as well as an ethical society. Today we are failing ourselves on both counts." "We are ruled by money. This America has gone upside down." "Every year with no end in sight, wealth consolidates and poverty expands." "Curiosity takes courage-that's why people protect themselves from truths they fear will speak discomfort or guilt." "Blindness is easier. That blindness is complicity." "We must first look at each other in order to look after each other."

  3. 5 out of 5

    vanessa

    A gripping account of a young woman's struggle as a new mom, facing homelessness in New York City. If you keep books about social inequality and poverty on your TBR, this is one to keep on your radar. The journalist, Lauren Sandler, is a wonderful narrator of the audiobook, too. Through Sandler's writing, I felt like I knew Camila very well: her highs and lows, her perseverance, the way she views her family and the romantic partners in her life. I valued Camila's narrative because it is imperfec A gripping account of a young woman's struggle as a new mom, facing homelessness in New York City. If you keep books about social inequality and poverty on your TBR, this is one to keep on your radar. The journalist, Lauren Sandler, is a wonderful narrator of the audiobook, too. Through Sandler's writing, I felt like I knew Camila very well: her highs and lows, her perseverance, the way she views her family and the romantic partners in her life. I valued Camila's narrative because it is imperfect... Camila's choices are sometimes questionable, but I always ended thinking whether she did this or that, the system/bureaucracy is still going to be against her. I so valued how Sandler peppered in information and facts about homelessness, poverty, and single motherhood in the United States. For fans of Matthew Desmond's Evicted.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Ms. Jacobs

    This is the story of a journalist who followed and documented the story of Camila, an unwed, homeless mother for one year in New York City. I read books about poverty and social injustice b/c it opens my eyes to a completely different way of life, to ways I might be contributing to the problem, to ways I might be part of the solution. One quote that stood out to me was “People feel their own scarcity based on the rungs above, not below.” And I believe that to largely be true. That is how we tend This is the story of a journalist who followed and documented the story of Camila, an unwed, homeless mother for one year in New York City. I read books about poverty and social injustice b/c it opens my eyes to a completely different way of life, to ways I might be contributing to the problem, to ways I might be part of the solution. One quote that stood out to me was “People feel their own scarcity based on the rungs above, not below.” And I believe that to largely be true. That is how we tend to measure ourselves. And there was another quote I can’t directly find but it was to the effect that poverty is often viewed as an individual problem rather than the system wide failure that it is. And b/c of that we tend to place the blame in the wrong place rather than offering empathy, sympathy, and compassion at the very minimum. Our social services system is broken, and for those born at the wrong time to the wrong people in the wrong place (like a homeless shelter) seem doomed thru no fault of their own. It’s a tragedy that this happens in a country as rich as this one.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Jaclin McGuire

    Fabulous read. The homeless, single mother she follows for a year has more determination than anyone I know. What an amazing story.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Jessica Blair

    This is one of the best books I've read in years. Heartbreaking and eye-opening. It will change the way you see the world.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Paige

    Wow. I received an advanced copy of this book through a good reads giveaway. I was hesitant to read this book at first, because it’s not a typical read for me. However, as soon as I started the book, I couldn’t put it down. The book tells a story of a young single mother in NYC who is struggling. It details her struggles with housing, welfare, daycare, schooling, and much more. This book opened up my eyes and taught me so much about homelessness and how the system works. I grew up and still live Wow. I received an advanced copy of this book through a good reads giveaway. I was hesitant to read this book at first, because it’s not a typical read for me. However, as soon as I started the book, I couldn’t put it down. The book tells a story of a young single mother in NYC who is struggling. It details her struggles with housing, welfare, daycare, schooling, and much more. This book opened up my eyes and taught me so much about homelessness and how the system works. I grew up and still live in the Midwest where there isn’t as large of a homeless population, so I was oblivious to how much people struggle and how screwed up the system is. This book truly opened my mind in so many ways. It is a good reminder to never judge someone, as you don’t know what they have been through or are currently going through. This book helped me reflect on my own life and give gratitude towards my parents and my childhood. I would highly recommend this book.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Tabitha Mase

    I received this advanced copy from a Goodreads giveaway. Even in its uncorrected version, Camila’s story immediately grabs you by the throat without mercy. I have never read a book like this before: an immersive, true accounting of a journalist ready to report on the injustices of social welfare by essentially shadowing someone’s life. And as she points out in the text more than once, she doesn’t interfere with the narrative. Camila doesn’t get any favors from author Lauren Sandler—no advice to I received this advanced copy from a Goodreads giveaway. Even in its uncorrected version, Camila’s story immediately grabs you by the throat without mercy. I have never read a book like this before: an immersive, true accounting of a journalist ready to report on the injustices of social welfare by essentially shadowing someone’s life. And as she points out in the text more than once, she doesn’t interfere with the narrative. Camila doesn’t get any favors from author Lauren Sandler—no advice to speak of, no financial assistance, and no babysitting privileges. She’s merely a voyeur, albeit one who becomes a confidante to Camila. Their relationship becomes special, yet fraught with uncomfortable realizations along the way. I had no idea this world of poverty and homelessness even existed in the United States. The sheer magnitude of what this young girl experiences as a new mom with no familial support, no friends to speak of, and certainly no romantic relationship to help carry the burden, is incomprehensible. I am amazed, simply and utterly flummoxed at the hardships Camila managed (still manages?) with all of the social assistance programs she applied to, managed, tracked, and the hundreds of miles and hours dedicated to doing so—only to be told that she was in the wrong borough, been denied for inexplicable reasons, need more paperwork... it is truly dizzying what she went through the first year of Alonso’s life. That’s on top of just being a new, young, scared mother. (I was a young, single mother too, but I had my family’s full support, and I lived at home with my son while I finished my undergraduate degree. I’ve always known I was fortunate, but this...I don’t feel like I accomplished anything compared to what she went through in one year.) I am appreciative for the gift of this book, not only quite literally, but this is one that will stay with me. I don’t know how to make a difference on the topics of poverty and attainable, affordable housing for the millions of Americans who live on the streets and in shelters with no hope, but I am more sensitive to it now—and will be able to perhaps vote for these issues. I know others will read it too and experience the burning call for action.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Barred Owl Books

    From an award-winning journalist, a poignant and gripping immersion in the life of a young, homeless single mother amid her quest to find stability and shelter in the richest city in America “Lauren Sandler has brilliantly written the story of America in the age of inequality. Read this book, please—it is as gripping as it is moving as it is important.”—Darren Walker, president, The Ford Foundation Camila is twenty-two years old and a new mother. She has no family to rely on, no partner, and no h From an award-winning journalist, a poignant and gripping immersion in the life of a young, homeless single mother amid her quest to find stability and shelter in the richest city in America “Lauren Sandler has brilliantly written the story of America in the age of inequality. Read this book, please—it is as gripping as it is moving as it is important.”—Darren Walker, president, The Ford Foundation Camila is twenty-two years old and a new mother. She has no family to rely on, no partner, and no home. Despite her intelligence and determination, the odds are firmly stacked against her. In this extraordinary work of literary reportage, Lauren Sandler chronicles a year in Camila’s life—from the birth of her son to his first birthday—as she navigates the labyrinth of poverty and homelessness in New York City. In her attempts to secure a safe place to raise her son and find a measure of freedom in her life, Camila copes with dashed dreams, failed relationships, the desolation of abandonment, and miles of red tape with grit, humor, and uncanny resilience. Every day, more than forty-five million Americans attempt to survive below the poverty line. Every night, nearly sixty thousand people sleep in New York City-run shelters, 40 percent of them children. In This Is All I Got, Sandler brings this deeply personal issue to life, vividly depicting one woman’s hope and despair and her steadfast determination to change her life despite the myriad setbacks she encounters. This Is All I Got is a rare feat of reporting and a dramatic story of survival. Sandler’s candid and revealing account also exposes the murky boundaries between a journalist and her subject when it becomes impossible to remain a dispassionate observer. She has written a powerful and unforgettable indictment of a system that is often indifferent to the needs of those it serves, and that sometimes seems designed to fail.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Daniel

    This book has changed my perception of my surroundings and the people and neighborhoods that I have inhabited for my entire life. Lauren Sandler subtly allows us to tag along with Camilla, our indomitable hero. Camilla's story unfolds in stages until we are brought to our knees by the seemingly insurmountable obstacles this 22 year old single homeless mother has to face. She has nothing in her favor besides her own formidable intelligence and will to survive. Bootstraps indeed. I couldn't put the This book has changed my perception of my surroundings and the people and neighborhoods that I have inhabited for my entire life. Lauren Sandler subtly allows us to tag along with Camilla, our indomitable hero. Camilla's story unfolds in stages until we are brought to our knees by the seemingly insurmountable obstacles this 22 year old single homeless mother has to face. She has nothing in her favor besides her own formidable intelligence and will to survive. Bootstraps indeed. I couldn't put the book down and found myself rooting for Camilla on every subway ride from the Bronx to school in Far Rockaway to the Kafkaesque Welfare offices that seemed designed to crush her. I found myself yelling at the book, at the system and at the deadbeat men who let her fend for herself. Lauren Sandler tells Camilla's story and leaves herself out of it in the best ways. She deftly moves from storytelling to facts and statistics that give perspective to Camilla's situation. Its an incredibly moving portrait of not just Camilla, but of an entire world that exists right next to the single origin coffee shops and condos of NYC. A world where each day could be the last day with a roof over your head and no guaranty of the next meal. I am grateful that Sandler spent all of this time with Camilla and I am grateful to Camilla for allowing us to be with her through it all.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Francie

    I received an ARC copy of this book from a Goodreads giveaway and I am so glad I did! Lauren Sandler's record of a year in the life of a young homeless single mother in NYC reads like a novel, and leaves you stunned at the obstacles faced by those living in poverty in today's America. Her chosen subject, Camila, is intelligent, organized, and driven. Sandler says early on in the book that if someone like Camila can't make it out of homelessness and poverty, then its no wonder so many others cann I received an ARC copy of this book from a Goodreads giveaway and I am so glad I did! Lauren Sandler's record of a year in the life of a young homeless single mother in NYC reads like a novel, and leaves you stunned at the obstacles faced by those living in poverty in today's America. Her chosen subject, Camila, is intelligent, organized, and driven. Sandler says early on in the book that if someone like Camila can't make it out of homelessness and poverty, then its no wonder so many others cannot. To read of the holes in the available assistance, the red tape, forms and WAITING that are involved in every step of Camila's efforts to improve her life, and have basic needs met while she does so, is heartbreaking. To see someone with so much drive and motivation be beaten down by the inadequacies in the system, all while facing the frustrations and exhaustion of new motherhood entirely on their own, leaves you wondering what can be done. The lack of family support, as this level of poverty and homelessness perpetuates from one generation to the next, is difficult for those of us with strong supportive families to comprehend. This is an eye-opening book.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Adriana Farmiga

    This book is incredible! Lauren Sandler paints a portrait of Camilla's life in a way that also reflects our own complicity in a system that advocates for dominant power structures to drown out voices like Camilla's in service of the status quo. The account of their year together was clearly calibrated in a way that the reader was able to get completely lost in Camilla's life, with Sandler serving as a guiding and empathetic voice that never lost sight of its priorities in amplifying this young m This book is incredible! Lauren Sandler paints a portrait of Camilla's life in a way that also reflects our own complicity in a system that advocates for dominant power structures to drown out voices like Camilla's in service of the status quo. The account of their year together was clearly calibrated in a way that the reader was able to get completely lost in Camilla's life, with Sandler serving as a guiding and empathetic voice that never lost sight of its priorities in amplifying this young mother's story. Sandler's intimate knowledge of New York City was a real bonus to understanding the city as site, and supporting character in Camilla's journey. At times funny, at others gut wrenching, the book kept me riveted from cover to cover. Sandler's commitment to her subject is unwavering and commendable. The author's capacity to retain and translate everyday details and nuance are what make this book truly special. A superlative read.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Lori

    I received a copy of this book from the goodreads giveaway. Lauren Sandler is a journalist who documented a woman named Camila for one year. She started in the summer when Camila was pregnant and close to birth. For one year she chronicles what Camila went through. Camila was born into poverty although she had somewhere to live. At 22 she is homeless and about to give birth. For one year we see what Camila goes through the obstacles she has to face always going on an uphill battle fighting the s I received a copy of this book from the goodreads giveaway. Lauren Sandler is a journalist who documented a woman named Camila for one year. She started in the summer when Camila was pregnant and close to birth. For one year she chronicles what Camila went through. Camila was born into poverty although she had somewhere to live. At 22 she is homeless and about to give birth. For one year we see what Camila goes through the obstacles she has to face always going on an uphill battle fighting the system that is failing those in poverty. I found myself feeling very frustrated and and angry for Camila. She tried very hard to get an education so she could be employed. All along trying to find somewhere to live only to face red, tape, rules and regulations and always set backs. I found this to be an interesting read but very hard to read seeing what so many people go through right now.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Tara Jennings

    This is a very touching and personal story which I am sure many women especially single moms can really feel and be moved by. This story documents Camilla a 22 year old single mom, alone, struggling, and all that is stacked against her to fail at life as a mom and a provider. This hits close to home for a lot of single moms, I had also lived a time like this struggling so reading a story like this brings those memories back in good ways looking at how far I came from those struggles. This is a v This is a very touching and personal story which I am sure many women especially single moms can really feel and be moved by. This story documents Camilla a 22 year old single mom, alone, struggling, and all that is stacked against her to fail at life as a mom and a provider. This hits close to home for a lot of single moms, I had also lived a time like this struggling so reading a story like this brings those memories back in good ways looking at how far I came from those struggles. This is a very riveting story. If you want to have an emotional read that is riveting, and really makes you feel like this could be what you are facing and maybe help to inspire you not to give up facing obstacles such as poverty, being a single mother, and knowing you aren't the only one this book is for you. It feels somewhat raw and uncut and brings to light some harsh truths about society and the divide in rich and poor. Lauren Sandler did a great job depicting the life Camilla goes through, and her writing is superb in this book. Thank you Goodreads for the chance to read this and the copy I won.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Sarah Spitz

    COULDN’T PULL MYSELF AWAY. Lauren Sandler takes us on a journey with Camilla, a young, homeless, Dominican mother navigating the NYC public housing and welfare system during the first year of her infant son’s life. Camilla’s story isn’t a generic take down of bureaucracy vs. the invisible individual, but rather the single story of one person’s daily footsteps uphill, which illuminate the pain and struggle of a life lived on the fringes. These are things we all know, statistics we’ve all heard, b COULDN’T PULL MYSELF AWAY. Lauren Sandler takes us on a journey with Camilla, a young, homeless, Dominican mother navigating the NYC public housing and welfare system during the first year of her infant son’s life. Camilla’s story isn’t a generic take down of bureaucracy vs. the invisible individual, but rather the single story of one person’s daily footsteps uphill, which illuminate the pain and struggle of a life lived on the fringes. These are things we all know, statistics we’ve all heard, but Sandler invites us behind the curtain, and we experience Camilla’s struggle. While respecting journalistic integrity, Sandler finds that she must contend with her own privilege, which allows us, the reader, to experience this complex puzzle in a unique way. The facts aren’t new, but the feeling is.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Austin Martin

    This book looks at homelessness in a new way, one I have not usually though of. It was a long journey with a lot of interconnected and moving parts for Camilla to achieve the stability she needed. Seeing what motivated her and what drove her perseverance and determination, it was something most individuals can relate to. I could understand her issues of abandonment and how that could keep her from trusting others for a long time. I could really relate to this character in many ways and reading a This book looks at homelessness in a new way, one I have not usually though of. It was a long journey with a lot of interconnected and moving parts for Camilla to achieve the stability she needed. Seeing what motivated her and what drove her perseverance and determination, it was something most individuals can relate to. I could understand her issues of abandonment and how that could keep her from trusting others for a long time. I could really relate to this character in many ways and reading about her life and how she kept on going through life even though her circumstances were not ideal, she made the best of a worst situation and made plans to better her life. Definitely on of my favorite books that I have read this year.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Alexa Spagnoli

    This hard-hitting account of a year in the life of a homeless new mother is gritty, real and, in an era of slick accessibility and Wi-Fi for all, a needed reminder that some live on the edge of eating, or not eating, today. The subject of this book, a young lady with roots in the Dominican Republic, summons other-worldly determination to survive in a system that seems to be blocking and impeding every step of the way. As I read it, I found myself pleading with the system to give her a break. Tha This hard-hitting account of a year in the life of a homeless new mother is gritty, real and, in an era of slick accessibility and Wi-Fi for all, a needed reminder that some live on the edge of eating, or not eating, today. The subject of this book, a young lady with roots in the Dominican Republic, summons other-worldly determination to survive in a system that seems to be blocking and impeding every step of the way. As I read it, I found myself pleading with the system to give her a break. Thank you Lauren Sanders, for sharing this well-written, eye-opening story. It should be required reading for every politician and social worker in New York.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Mark

    Statistics made visceral Some stories are full of statistics; some are full of emotion. Sandler offers us both. This is Kafka and King - politics, economics, education, civil rights all rolled into one story that leaves you enraged and inspired. "We have to be willing to look AT each other before we can look after each other." From the beginning to the end I found myself rooting for someone I knew was not likely to win. Most frustrating of all is the notion that this is not " Camila's" story; it Statistics made visceral Some stories are full of statistics; some are full of emotion. Sandler offers us both. This is Kafka and King - politics, economics, education, civil rights all rolled into one story that leaves you enraged and inspired. "We have to be willing to look AT each other before we can look after each other." From the beginning to the end I found myself rooting for someone I knew was not likely to win. Most frustrating of all is the notion that this is not " Camila's" story; it is the tragic tale of the American dream become nightmare. Note - once you start this book it will be very difficult to put it down.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Fabiana

    Just finished #ThisIsWhatIGot by Lauren Sandler. I can say I am a different person today as before I read this book. I have become more compassionate, empathic and knowledgeable about our failed system and how it affects homeless single mothers in America. I am moved and hope everyone will read it as I promise it will simply make you a better person and open your eyes to the invisible surroundings of our privileges. Great read for individuals but also for social justice and social work classes.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Sharron

    * I received a free copy in a Goodreads giveaway. Like Evicted, it's an investigative journalist telling the personal story instead of numbers, statistics and legalities. However, this the story of just one homeless single mother in New York City. I think it would have worked better if like Evicted it followed more stories than just one. You get to know Camila too well, losing sympathy for her along the way. It's hard to read just the constant struggle of one person without getting dragged down, * I received a free copy in a Goodreads giveaway. Like Evicted, it's an investigative journalist telling the personal story instead of numbers, statistics and legalities. However, this the story of just one homeless single mother in New York City. I think it would have worked better if like Evicted it followed more stories than just one. You get to know Camila too well, losing sympathy for her along the way. It's hard to read just the constant struggle of one person without getting dragged down, so it takes a long time to get through.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Sarah Min

    Full disclosure, I know the author, and I think she should write a separate book just about the process of writing this one! Lauren's immersive process and ever-present will to remain objective allowed me to feel as if I was also observing the subject's life. The timeliness of how we misunderstand what it means to be poor and homeless in New York City and how our government systems keep people in poverty will hopefully open people's eyes. Lauren also kept the subject's personal story moving, in Full disclosure, I know the author, and I think she should write a separate book just about the process of writing this one! Lauren's immersive process and ever-present will to remain objective allowed me to feel as if I was also observing the subject's life. The timeliness of how we misunderstand what it means to be poor and homeless in New York City and how our government systems keep people in poverty will hopefully open people's eyes. Lauren also kept the subject's personal story moving, in a gripping, visceral way.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Heather Leigh

    Fascinating, wonderfully written. I had never thought much about this part of society, but have heard things in the media. It was eye-opening for someone like me, who lives a ordinary, somewhat sheltered life. Although there were some political parts interspersed throughout, it didn’t turn me off (like most political points do). The story was too interesting- I finished this in a little over a day.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Alyssa

    I received this book as a Goodreads Giveaway! Thank you to Penguin Random House and Lauren Sandler. Coronavirus self isolation or not, nothing was going to pull me out the house until I finished this book. It was very well written. Lauren Sandler not only balanced this woman’s viewpoints and storyline but also connected it to real life statistics and insights into how the system has failed her. A. Must. Read. 📚

  24. 5 out of 5

    Heather Zimmie

    This book does an incredible job following the main character through the struggles of poverty. The journalist being the narrator of Camila’s story was a beautiful way to follow her story using a trustworthy narrator while also highlighting her feelings and experiences. As someone that works with underprivileged communities it was a great dive into what life is really like when you get sucked into the system and how difficult it is to overcome no matter how much effort you put in.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Laura

    I'm partial to non-fiction written by journalists who immerse themselves in an environment to tell a story. While nothing will ever compare to Behind the Beautiful Forevers, this account of a single mother, always nearly homeless, is engrossing and infuriating. There are plenty of reasons to be incredulous at this story, from the social service system, to the women's parents, to the absent dad and to some of the choices made by Camila, the subject of the story.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Xin Gao

    The author was able to get close enough to the young single mom’s life to describe many shocking and heartbreaking details. It makes me think how unfair life is -- some kids are born in a shelter and all the subsequent instabilities, while others enjoy prosperity and love and care from day 1. As a society we emphasize “success” and “effort” but forget the systemic failure deprived some members of the chance to succeed.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Sandra Burns

    Camilla allowed the author, to chronicle her life, for a year. Camilla, with a baby, is living in a shelter. She is also, working through the quagmire, of social services and going to college. Camilla lives by her wits, and intelligence. She always had hope, things would improve. Camilla just kept going

  28. 4 out of 5

    David Opdyke

    What a great book! Smart, heartfelt and timely. A deft interweaving of three strands: most importantly, the story of Camila and her struggle to make New York City’s education, welfare and housing systems work for her; secondly, forays into the historical, economic and political forces that have created the city’s housing crisis, and therefore Camila’s; lastly, Lauren Sandler’s poignant analysis of her own predicament – objective but privileged journalist? best friend? enabler? -- as she becomes What a great book! Smart, heartfelt and timely. A deft interweaving of three strands: most importantly, the story of Camila and her struggle to make New York City’s education, welfare and housing systems work for her; secondly, forays into the historical, economic and political forces that have created the city’s housing crisis, and therefore Camila’s; lastly, Lauren Sandler’s poignant analysis of her own predicament – objective but privileged journalist? best friend? enabler? -- as she becomes more and more embedded in her subject’s life. These three strands handled with wit, compassion, and clarity to make a powerful case for taking off our blinders. We may not want to see poverty, but it is all around us.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Erin Brown

    Everyone should read this! This was incredibly eye opening. I learned so much about the issues a young mother, or anyone for that matter, goes through when facing poverty. The hardships the young mother in this story faced was astonishing and unbelievable. I n so happy to have read this. This will stick with me forever.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Sara

    This book is a real eye-opener and everyone could benefit from reading it. It is a smooth read and follows the life of a young mother as she attempts to navigate the system in New York City. Her attempts to ensure housing and food for herself and her child are filled with stumbling blocks and the reader gets a very personal view of just how broken our system is. Where do we go from here?

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