At first I thought this book, about a woman's mentor relationship with a homeless teen was a lot like Erlbaum's previous memoir, Girlbomb, which I read last year and mostly liked.
The "mostly liked" has to do with how long it took for the young Ms. Erlbaum to get past her self-destructive behavior and grow up. As I said in my review (in last year's reading log), it's not that the writing was bad or unrealistic or anything, it's just hard to live inside that life for 272 pages. Have You Found Her starts out that way--you think "What the hell are you doing and for how long are you going to keep doing it?" and feel especially justified in feeling that way because Erlbaum herself seems to know she's on a truly codependent trip. However...
There is a big surprise that sucks you back in even after you get tired of the new version of self-destructive behavior. The only problem is that it comes more than 200 pages into the 342 page book. The author reports that she took extensive notes during the period she chronicles, and I just wish she'd been able to be a little more samurai in what she cut to tell the story.
Still, I truly admire Ms. Erlbaum for her total honesty. She doesn't always show herself in good light. She admits to the possibly selfish side of her do-gooder impulses (volunteering at the homeless shelter where she herself once took refuge) and to her own addictive behavior. I was touched by her candor and saw some of myself in it. I was also pleased that it seems like someone who had a hard childhood has built herself a successful and happy life.
Does that sound sappy? When someone lets you (and however many thousand other readers) in so close, with an almost zine like intimacy, you kind of end up rooting for her.