Inspired by a recent issue of The Contributor (Volume 8, Issue 12, May 12-19, 2014) that featured a list of “Nine Must-Read Books on Homelessness,” here is a list of Young Adult novels about teens who experience homelessness.
By Coe Booth
Tyrell is only fourteen years old, but he carries an adult-sized load of responsibility. His dad is in jail, and his mom plays the party girl. Thanks to her consistently irresponsible behavior, Tyrell and his seven year old brother, Troy, stay with their mom at a homeless shelter. But as soon as their time at the shelter runs out, they will be sent to the roach-infested Bennet Motel. Tyrell needs money to take care of his family, though his legal options are few. There is one excellent skill that Tyrell learned from his father – and that’s how to DJ. It might just be the advantage Tyrell can use.
Sorta Like a Rock Star
By Matthew Quick
“Mom’s taste in men is akin to a crackhead’s taste in crack cocaine. Any old hit will do.” This is why Amber Appleton is living in a bus named Hello Yellow with her alcoholic mother and adorable dog. It’s cold out. Amber’s clothes are all stuffed in a trash bag. Things can only get worse, of course, and they do.
Quick’s debut novel is tartly humorous as he explores one girl’s odyssey of hope.
By Todd Strasser
For Dan’s family, the slippery slope to homelessness began when his mother lost her stockbroker job five years earlier. Then his father loses his job, and they move out of the house to live with relatives. That temporary solution quickly pans out, and the family moves into a tent, joining a homeless community dubbed, “Dignityville.” Dignityville receives water, electricity, trash pick-up, and other kinds of support from the town. Some townsfolks are happy to help those down on their luck, while others are furious that their tax money goes to people too “lazy” to work. Strasser presents multiple aspects of homelessness and community response in the telling of Dan’s story.
By Wendy Van Draanen
Holly is only twelve years old, but she is living in her fifth foster home. It’s unbearable. When her foster father plunges her head in a toilet (think Sani-Flush), Holly knows it’s time to go. But this time, she’s not headed for another foster home. Holly takes to the streets, alone. It’s rough, and dangerous. Holly sleeps on the streets in the cold, and steals food to stay alive. Through it all, Holly just can’t forget her mother, whom she believes loved heroin more than she loved Holly. As Holly realizes how deeply she was hurt by this, she begins to take back control of her life.
Blink & Caution
By Tim Wynne-Jones
Two teens, living on the streets of Toronto, meet on a train. Both of them are on the run. Blink has witnessed a terrorist crime, and now his knowledge of the players puts him in danger. Caution, living with a drug dealer nearly twice her age, has an intimate connection to the terrorists. At first, Caution sees Blink as someone to rob. But as the two become entangled in a blackmail scheme that thrusts them in mortal danger, something beautiful and unexpected grows between them.