At 14, Erlbaum, a columnist for Bust magazine, became fed up with her mother's latest abusive husband and left their Brooklyn apartment. This memoir chronicles Erlbaum's teenage years, rife with typical issues that were intensified and complicated by her ongoing search for a place to call home. As the author moves from a shelter to a group home to her boyfriend's apartment, she re-creates the chaotic environment that her mother's revolving door of oft-abusive boyfriends and husbands had lent her from her early life through her own escalating promiscuity and drug use. Erlbaum perfectly captures the gritty landscape of the shelters, streets, and social scene of 1980s Manhattan and the gritty thoughts and feelings of a teenager immersing herself in flaky friends, lewd boys, violence, and drugs. Her uphill battle to gain independence and autonomy will rivet, and her easy, often humorous tone gives the impression of a lengthy epistle from a close, troubled friend. Highly recommended for all public and academic libraries and particularly high school libraries. [See Prepub Alert, LJ 11/1/05.]-Amanda Glasbrenner, New York Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Erlbaum, a columnist for Bust, left her Manhattan home at 15 after her mother reunited with Erlbaum's abusive stepfather. Landing first in a shelter and then a group home, Erlbaum-shattered by her mother's choice-embarks on a treacherous course of self-destruction. Casual sex with a series of brutally uncaring boys coupled with daily drug and alcohol abuse become her antidote to the violence and racism in the child-welfare system housing her. Her isolation and loneliness threaten to swallow her whole. Yet when Erlbaum's mother invites her home (the dreaded stepfather gone for good), things don't improve. Erlbaum has more freedom, which allows more opportunity for trouble. At 17 she leaves again (this time to live with an older boyfriend), becomes addicted to the cocaine so plentiful in the 1980s New York club scene and nearly dies from an overdose. Through Erlbaum's adolescence, she often seems a willing victim. In her chaotic senior year of high school, she begins writing stories, attempting to put the life she's been living into perspective. Her memoir (comparable to Koren Zailckas's Smashed) reads like a neorealist novel. Sharp yet poignant, raw and vivid, it illumines the dirty underside of American girlhood and brings it to harrowing life. (Mar.) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Adult/High School-The author's childhood was not a pleasant one. Her mother's string of abusive boyfriends and husbands had left her with no choice; after her mom kicked her last stepfather out, Erlbaum told her, "If you take him back, then I'm leaving." When she was 15, she left her Manhattan home after her mother once again reunited with the man. She spent several weeks in a shelter and eventually ended up in a group home. She had casual, unprotected sex with a string of boys and abused alcohol and drugs. Just over a year after she moved out, she moved back in with her now-single mother, and the book's title (a play on the author's last name) was realized: life as a high school student clashed with the cocaine-fueled club scene of the 1980s. This memoir illustrates the conflicting desires of adolescence-to fit in, to be loved, and to be independent. The writing is concise and engaging, but, most of all, it's honest. Erlbaum doesn't try to excuse her behavior; rather, she analyzes why she went down that self-destructive path and what made her change her ways. Readers will find solace in the knowledge that, despite the lack of structure in her home life, she managed to pull it all together. She worked at an after-school job, starred in a school play, graduated high school, and got into college.-Erin Dennington, Chantilly Regional Library, Fairfax County, VA Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.