In general, homelessness is about statistics. Rarely does the subject convince an ordinary citizen to step up and rescue a street person – until now.
The Street or Me: A New York Story begins with a sidewalk hello between two diverse women in a sketchy Midtown Manhattan neighborhood. Michelle Browning is 33, a former Italian beauty queen, habitually drunk, homeless for six years and near death. Author Judith Glynn is middle-aged, divorced with grown children, and struggles to support herself in her adopted city. As their street friendship develops, Glynn sets out single-handedly to restore Michelle’s dignity and return her to her family in Italy.
This book sounds like a do-gooder, co-dependent story, but it’s not. It’s part mystery – why do we connect with some people and not with others. Crafted as part horror story, too, Glynn shares just enough of Michelle’s life experience and what her daily existence was like on the streets: the beatings, the stench, the body lice, the freezing cold, the zombie-like state of late-stage alcoholism, yet Michelle’s spark of a vibrant human still inside her drives the narrative.
Glynn’s inability to understand her fixation to rescue Michelle is ever-present, as is her depth of self-reflection and action amidst uncertainty. Is it worth the danger and futility she faces trying to rescue a street person or the sacrifice to involve her family with her homeless friend? One casualty is the severed relationship that occurs with her own mother. Prominent in this memoir’s closing chapters is Glynn’s son who comes to his mother’s and Michelle’s aid during her final street days in New York.
At stake during Glynn’s riveting memoir is whether Michelle’s alcoholism will enslave her to a street life and a death in a gutter or will she follow the author’s lead back to sobriety.
Discover more about author Judith Glynn at her website http://judithglynn.com
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