This Is All I Got: A New Mother’s Search for Home

Random. Apr. 2020. 352p. ISBN 9780399589959. $27. SOC SCI
Journalist Sandler, in fluid prose, sheds insight into the lives of those living below the poverty line by profiling one year in the life of Camila, a 22-year-old new mother who is experiencing homelessness and struggling to get by without family or a support system. Sandler shows the efforts Camila must take, and the obstacles she must endure, in order to obtain public assistance for herself and her infant son. Sandler chronicles it all, using Camila and others as case studies as they maintain steady employment, make mandatory visits to various agencies, chase lost paperwork, look for checks and vouchers that don’t appear, endure abusive or neglectful parents and partners, and live with mental and physical illnesses. The lives these mothers lead are frustrating and exhausting; the demands relentless. Camila succeeds in earning a two-year college degree, but she still struggles to provide a safe, semipermanent home for herself and her son. Interwoven with this story are facts about homelessness, especially women and children living below the poverty line.
VERDICT While Sandler focuses primarily on New York City, her study will resonate widely and is worthwhile reading for all, especially fans of Matthew Desmond’s Evicted.
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