Read Have You Found Her by Janice Erlbaum Online


And every week, there was the unspoken question, the one I didn’t know enough to ask myself : Have you found her yet? The one who reminds you of you?Twenty years after she lived at a homeless shelter for teens, Janice Erlbaum went back to volunteer. Now thirty-four years old and a successful writer, she’d changed her life for the better; now she wanted to help someone elseAnd every week, there was the unspoken question, the one I didn’t know enough to ask myself : Have you found her yet? The one who reminds you of you?Twenty years after she lived at a homeless shelter for teens, Janice Erlbaum went back to volunteer. Now thirty-four years old and a successful writer, she’d changed her life for the better; now she wanted to help someone else–someone like the girl she’d once been.Then she met Sam. A brilliant nineteen-year-old junkie savant, the product of a horrifically abusive home, Sam had been surviving alone on the streets since she was twelve and was now struggling for sobriety against the adverse health effects of long-term drug abuse. Soon Janice found herself caring deeply for Sam, following her through detoxes and psych wards, halfway houses and hospitals, becoming ever more manically driven to save her from the sickness and sadness leftover from Sam’s terrible past. But just as Janice was on the verge of becoming the girl’s legal guardian, she made a shocking discovery: Sam was sicker than anyone knew, in ways nobody could have imagined.Written with startling candor and immediacy, Have You Found Her is the story of one woman’s quest to save a girl’s life–and the hard truths she learns about herself along the way.“A rich and compelling account . . . Ultimately this is a book about the narrator’s journey and the dangers that attend the urge within us all to believe we can save another soul. A terrific read.”–Cammie McGovern, author of Eye Contact ...

Title : Have You Found Her
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9780812974577
Format Type : Paperback
Number of Pages : 343 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

Have You Found Her Reviews

  • Carmen
    2019-03-08 20:17

    This gripping and fascinating memoir reads like fiction. Janice volunteers at a shelter and becomes very attached to a girl there. Things rapidly spiral out of control. This book is shocking – it's like a car accident you can't look away from. Not only can one be addicted to drugs, but one can be addicted to the idea of rescuing, of being the selfless hero. Things are not always what they appear to be. Great book.

  • Eva Leger
    2019-03-03 14:39

    Before I start my review I just want to comment on the 1 star review that popped up first for me. The reviewer says that Janice and Sam's relationship isn't fleshed out. I want to say that, in my opinion, the relationship between the two couldn't be more fleshed out. I think the reviewer, for whatever reason, really missed or ignored some valuable parts of the story. It seems as if he or she feels very strongly and didn't like the book for a number of reasons. No problem. I liked it myself. But I also want to give a differing opinion to anyone who may read that and believe it without checking for themselves.Now, on to my feelings. :)I'll probably end up forgetting some of what I want to say because a lot went through my head while reading this. First I should say that it only took me 4 or 5 days to read this because I've been so busy. Had I had the usual amount of reading time I normally have I'd have finished it in a day or two - no more. It flows. Janice is a fantastic writer which she proved so easily with Girlbomb: A Halfway Homeless Memoir. Nothing different with that.I wasn't expecting the ending. I'm not much for wishing for happy endings. Some are fine, more are unrealistic. I tend to like my non-fiction realistic whenever possible. ;-)So, why wasn't I expecting this ending? I still don't know. Maybe I believed Janice had it in her to save Sam. And I think she did. I think with someone who was ready to be saved Janice would be a literal life-saver. Maybe it was as simple as hope.Another reviewer (same as mentioned above) also claimed that no one could go through all of the things Sam claimed to have gone through. While anyone who has read this story knows Sam's claims are one things - there are indeed people who live life like the one Sam described. There are indeed children who have parents who failed them. There are indeed children who have drug addicted parents who sell them for a bit of whatever get-high they're partial too. I suppose it's a good thing that the reviewer is unaware of this. It probably means they've led a fairly sheltered life. But I'm here to tell you that it does happen - all too frequently. Anyone who puts forth a little research can find out. Anyone who volunteers their time, much like Janice did, in certain places can see for themselves.(Can anyone tell I don't like all inclusive statements that can so easily be proven false?)There were a lot of times I was furious with Sam. For the lies, for all she had that she didn't really appreciate. Other times I was furious with Janice. For being taken in. Conned. For not checking things out sooner. After thinking about it all over and over again, I realized that Janice did what I hope I would do in the situation. She trusted Sam for as long as she could. Until she could do so no longer.Another thing that should be mentioned is Janice's honesty. That's very obvious but with a subject like this it should be applauded IMO. I doubt I'd even admit to the little lie Janice told to her best friend in the 7th grade. But she admitted that and so much more, some of it not the most flattering. A lot of people would have edited those parts out to make themselves look "better". But then, Janice didn't have to try to make herself look better. From where I'm standing she looks pretty damn good.As different as this is compared to Girlbomb I'd still recommend it to anyone who liked it. Janice's writing is really, really good and there are no hesitations - it just really, honestly, purely flows. It's rather refreshing really.I sincerely hope she's still writing. Janice Erlbaum is one of only a handful of authors who, if they came out with a new book, I'd go right out to buy it, with no concern for how much it costs or looking at it very closely. (I usually wait to buy books because I get them far cheaper elsewhere and I already own thousands.) It's nice to have an author that I don't have to worry about coming out with something I won't like. I know that with this author it's next to impossible.I urge any and everyone thinking about reading Have You Found Her to read it regardless of any review or any one person's thoughts. (Even mine, however hard that may be.) :-D I'd always warn potential readers that not everyone tried to avoid spoilers so take caution if or when you read reviews. Reading any spoiler(s) won't "ruin" the book for you (I don't think so anyway) but it just sucks. Unless you're even more pessimistic than I am about things/people like this subject/Sam, the element of surprise nearing the end is a good one I think.

  • Sandra
    2019-03-09 22:37

    What the hell was this book about? Good question. A former "homeless" woman goes back to the shelter and volunteers her time, and her beads, doing beading with the girls. There she eventually meets Sam. Sam is homeless and has all of these stories full of hooker mothers; meth addict fathers; prostition; knife fights; rapes; etc. If you saw it on Jerry Springer then she's lived through it. She is also coming down with various illness and infections.Our author - although she has the greatest, most wonderful and adoring "husband" (they won't marry legally until the whole world can!) shom they call each other SHMOO - she literally falls in love with this girl Sam. To her, Sam walks on water.WHY? Another good question. I never understood the allure. I was not enamoured of this girl whose stories were so fantastical that you knew one person couldn't have lived through ALL of it. The connection between Janice and Sam is never fleshed out. To me, the whole relationship was one of a selfish woman thinking she was saving the world by focusing on this one girl. Maybe there was more to it, but the plodding pace of the story never blossomed for me.I'm not ruining the book by saying the girl is accused by Janice of having Munchausen's Syndrome - where you intentionally hurt or make yourelf sick. The girl is exposed as a liar with a family. Book ends. The only reason I gave it 1 star is because it WAS a book. Someone did some crappy artwork on a cover and made it a book. That's it.

  • Krissy
    2019-03-18 14:26

    This book was absolutely one of the best I've read in a long, long time. Honestly, at first I didn't think I would be quite so into it, but as soon as I got past page 10, I couldn't even put it down. I will definitely be reading this author's other books, just as soon as I can get them. I don't want to spoil the story for anyone, but the ending is just so shocking, and I never saw it coming.

  • Katy
    2019-03-09 14:33

    If I were to sum up the entire novel in a single word, I would choose "emotional". I don't mean emotional, like a weepy romance novel or a heavy memoir about death. I mean emotional, like pure, raw human emotion. Erlbaum spares us no detail of the pain and joy that she is swept over with during her journey with Sam. The novel is mainly about the relationship between Erlbaum herself and Sam, an emotionally shattered teenager that she meets at a homeless shelter that she volunteered at. Erlbaum finds that she can relate to Sam in that they both ended up at this shelter after monthes on the street, and both suffered a traumatic childhood. They are fast friends, and Erlbaum finds herself caught up in spending time with Sam.The plot twists and turns, so outrageously that you wouldn't believe that it's real. I found myself gnawing my nails to nubs and grinding my teeth with pure anxiety as I read this book -- that's how closely Erlbaum draws you in. By the time you finish "Have You Found Her Yet," you too will be under Sam's spell.

  • Skyler
    2019-03-17 16:15

    I thought I knew exactly what I would be dealing with when I saw this book on the shelf but boy, was I wrong! The gist I got from scanning the back cover was that this would be your quintessential story about a thirty-four year old woman who had spent her own time in a homeless shelter for teens when she was a young runaway and who now hopes to give back in some way to the place that helped her when she didn't know where else to turn. But if you choose to read this book (and I definitely recommend that you do), you will quickly discover that author, Janice Erlbaum, is anything but typical. She is one of those rare kindhearted souls you might meet once in a blue moon, one of those people who has been places most middle-class, white Americans can't even imagine and who has ultimately triumphed. Have You Found Her details Erlbaum's experience volunteering at the shelter on the Older Females unit, meeting new residents one week and saying goodbye just as quickly the next as they come and go through the never-ending "revolving door." "And every week there was that unspoken question, the one I didn't know enough to ask myself: Have you found her yet? The one who reminds you of you?"So every Wednesday after work, Janice dutifully lugs her containers of beads to the shelter oftentimes arriving to the chorus of various girls yelling out, "Yo Bead Lady!" It's hard not to be drawn to certain youth in need. Janice certainly had her "favorites" whom she would rave about in the evenings to the love-of-her-life, Bill. But none could compare to Sam. Ah, Sam, the "brilliant nineteen-year old junkie savant who had been surviving alone on the streets since she was twelve and was now struggling for sobriety against the adverse health effects of long-term drug abuse." After hearing her history, you'd be shocked to meet her in the flesh- polite, caring, persevering Sam. It's no wonder that within weeks, Sam has charmed and captivated Janice with her intellectual wit and strong spirit. And, before she knows it, Janice has become consumed with her self-appointed quest to save Sam's life and get her back on track. The only problem is, Sam is sick. And no one knew quite how sick Samantha truly was... until it was almost too late to save her."She nodded at her lap, just once. Then she raised her head and looked at me with those giant eyes of hers.'I'm glad you found me,' she said. 'I'm glad you came.'My turn to stifle a tear. 'So am I.'"

  • Peacegal
    2019-02-24 18:24

    I greatly enjoyed the author’s first book, Girlbomb, so I thought I’d give this one a try. Have You Found Her is the very unusual true story of a woman who takes a homeless and very ill teenager under her wing, regarding her as a friend and surrogate daughter. Eventually, however, the author discovers the girl is nothing that she had claimed to be. I found this story quite riveting and had a great deal of trouble even putting this book down. Some reviews have criticized the author’s inability to see through the girl’s charade. However, she acted selflessly, and the only things you can blame her for—naiveté, trust, and caring too much—aren’t crimes at all. Instead, the parts of the book that dragged for me was a concurrent story about the author’s proposal and wedding. The author lived with her boyfriend and three cats, but somewhere midway through the book she decided something along the lines of “it’s important to be a family.” But you already are a family, I found myself saying aloud. I find the trappings of traditional wedding ceremonies insufferably dull and inscrutable, so these sections of the book didn’t terribly interest me. It’s not giving away to much to say this relationship, built on falsehoods, does not end happily. As is so often the case with emotional crises, the author spent sleepless nights trying to discern what went wrong. She summed it up quite succinctly:But I’d loved her. Or I’d loved the way she made me feel about myself. I’d loved the person I was when I was with her—competent, maternal, adult—but had I ever really loved her? How could I? I didn’t know anything about her. And once I did, I didn’t love her at all.

  • Elyssa
    2019-03-18 19:20

    This is a memoir about Janice Erlbaum, who returns to the shelter she lived in as a teenager and becomes a volunteer. She is cautioned not to become too close to any of the clients and to maintain strong boundaries, which she fails to do almost immediately. She develops a strong bond with one teenager, Sam, who clearly reminds the author of herself. As she becomes more deeply intertwined in Sam's life, she realizes that maintaining this relationship is more than she bargained for.The first three quarters of this book was hard for me to read. I almost gave up on it. The author's dysfunction is glaring and it is hard to witness. It was maddening to realize that he author had thrust herself into the role of a helper and is a wounded healer. It is clear that, on some level, she is using her relationship with Sam to address her own tortured history as a teenager. The author does seem to recognize her problematic behavior as she retells it, i.e. "I know I wasn't supposed to give Sam my home phone number, but I did it anyway", but she seems to miss the big picture that she and Sam are equally damaged or that, at the very least, the author should seek some professional help for her own issues. There is a surprise twist at the end of the book that made it worth finishing and the story as a whole is fascinating. In the end, I think this would have been better told by an objective writer and not the author herself because the portrayal might have been more balanced. Also, the author is not a skilled writer, especially when it comes to dialogue.

  • Joyce
    2019-03-21 15:29

    I read Janice Erlbaum's earlier memoir Girlbomb: A Halfway Homeless Memoir and really liked it so I picked this up. I realy enjoyed this book. It covers a time 20 years after Janice had left her monther's home and lived in and out of youth shelters in NYC for a few years in high school.Now that she's an adult with a career, stable relationship and a good place with her family, she decides to "give back" by volunteering at the same shelter that took her in so long ago. There she meets many girls that remind her of herself long ago including the girl that becomes her "project" Sam. Sam is extremely damaged but brilliant.I won't ruin the story for you but this is an incredible story that pulls you in only to turn you right upside down when everything unfolds. I couldn't help but relate to Janice as she helps this girl and experiences the ups and downs of loving someone that is even more damaged than you can imagine. You don't need to have read Girlbomb to enjoy this book!

  • Indra
    2019-02-27 15:20

    An extremely affecting, beautifully written read. I recognized early that the author was searching for something of herself in the pursuit of this friendship; judging her choices was not important because I was very much into the story and read the book in a single sitting. Furthermore, I liked her. I liked her foibles, her intelligence, her humor, her moments of clarity, and her rapport with the girls at the shelter. Anyone who thinks they "know" someone or can "save" or "change" them should really read this book--and anyone working with teenagers, as a previous reviewer noted.

  • Gina Baratono
    2019-03-03 20:18

    Prepare yourself for an emotional roller coaster ride if you read this memoir. The author returns to the honeless shelter where she lived as a teen, determined to help someone else get their life in order. She meets Sam, a young girl of 19, who is the product of horrible abuse suffered while she still ived at home. Sam lived on the streets since the age of 12, where she was introduced to the drug culture. Janice is determined to save Sam, and this is the story of that determination, a story of what persistence and love can do to change a life.

  • Hannah
    2019-02-21 18:28

    I've worked in behavioral health for a good amount of time and found this story really unsettling on many different levels at many different points. I don't care to take a defamatory tone because I respect the work that goes into writing a book and hope the best for the author and her family. I will say that I hope that writing this book was part of a healing process and I think some of the narrative is reflective of being written immediately after this year long experience (and as such, conveys a lot of raw pain and responses). In that way, it's a helpful look at how damaging unhealthy relationships can be. I also hope the author was able to secure some high quality (hard to find) therapy for her own healing and growth, because it seems as if she has been through quite a lot which led to some high risk behaviors and schemas; and while it's great she seems to have such a wonderful partner and many successes, very little can replace truly effective therapy when seeking to repair damage from trauma. I also hope the same for the subject of the book. Its easy to be negatively impacted and damaged by addictions, mental illness, and personality disorders; easy to feel exploited and abused by people living these lives. Easy to care and get sucked in. In addition, it's wrong to assume or promote a position that people living with these conditions are inherently evil and vile and deserving of retribution or that they are completely conscious actors and in total control of themselves. Truly disordered people oftentimes don't have a choice in the way most people do, and believing they do is a symptom of having the great fortune of not being afflicted with such severe representations of these conditions. People are indeed responsible for their actions and should not be given free will to destroy lives, however, some people are so ill and out of control that we need to instead do all we can to protect ourselves from them and figure out what draws us to them in the first place. I also don't agree with the comment someone made about memoirs not being a good genre for people looking for strong representations of noble character. Read about Dave Pelzer or Cupcake Brown or TJ Parsell or C.S. Lewis; or read the Bible. Finally, citing 9/11 as an allegorical reference in any story about personal loss is a huge overstep (e.g. Why is the sky so blue on days of tragedy; like the day I went to the hospital and also 9/11). The volume of tragedy experienced on that day and the ripple effect thereafter (including everything men and women of our military and the Iraqi people have endured since) is incomparable and mentioning it in this way or somehow paralleling it is completely irresponsible.

  • Jennifer Wardrip
    2019-03-21 15:14

    Reviewed by coollibrarianchick for TeensReadToo.comI just finished a book, after running back to the beach because it was mistakenly left there, that I am going to pass on to everyone looking for a good book to read. HAVE YOU FOUND HER by Janice Erlbaum was a gut-wrenching, pull-at-your-heart strings, can't-put-it-down memoir. It actually reads like a novel, a suspenseful one at that, full of plot twists and turns. I finished it in two days. The little blurb I read about it in my local library's Bookpage didn't do the book justice. Janice Erlbaum one day decided to volunteer at a homeless shelter for teens in NYC. Very noble of her, don't you think? Volunteering at this one homeless shelter was more than just an act of graciousness for her. Twenty years ago, she lived at that shelter for a time. She wanted to do something for these kids, show that you can change your situation and become successful. Janice definitely changed her life for the better. Now she is a successful author, living in a nice apartment with her husband (or domestic partner, as she calls him) and three cats. At first, the volunteering doesn't go very well. Her nervousness shows and the kids are gravitating to her for help. Janice is just not sure if she can do it. She soon realizes she has to have a shtick if she wants their attention and find a younger version of herself to help. So one day, she brings a bag full of beads for a craft-making jewelry session. It does the trick and she is forever known as the Bead Lady. One of the rules of the place is "Don't choose favorites." That rule goes completely out the window when Janice meets Samantha. Samantha is a brilliant junkie who has been on her own since she was twelve. She is incredibly lovable and also incredibly damaged. Samantha says a lot of things throughout the time Janice comes to know her that should be questioned. At any rate, Janice ends up falling for Sam - not a romantic love like she has for Bill, but in a deeply caring, friendship/parental way. She wants to save Sam from the streets, and this leads Janice and Sam through hospitals and halfway houses and rehabs. The one thing Janice never suspected was how sick Sam really was....... The book was like a roller coaster ride for me. When Sam was up, in good health, on the right track, you cheered -- but when she was down, sick, so weak that you though she would die at any second, you couldn't help but get sad and emotional. You start to wonder if you can really save another person's soul. I just wonder where Sam is now.....

  • Jerry
    2019-03-06 16:36

    This is a fascinating sequel to Erlbaum's earlier memoir, Girl Bomb. Girl Bomb is a story of fleeing her home to live in a homeless shelter in New York city. Have You Found Her is about her return to the *same shelter* years later to volunteer. The innocence and kindness of the author is equalled only by her bad judgment in allowing a troubled young woman to step across the boundary of caregiving and enter her life. Trouble ensues.It's a good story about Coming of Age, about gritty life on the edge of society, that strange and troubling way that young people struggle to fit in and for a while decide they don't really need to fit in at all. A story about the underbelly of humanity, and of a young woman trying to throw her shoulder to the wheel to try to prevent one or two people from falling off the bottom rung. Highly recommended. (Read them both, especially if you are interested in life on the streets, the world of young people on the edge of sanity, the attempt of an older young person trying to redeem her earlier mistakes.)For another fascinating story about a girl who crosses over the boundary toward insanity, read Surrounded by Madness by Rachel Pruchno.

  • bjneary
    2019-03-16 18:15

    Wow, what a different read---I loved GirlBomb by Janice Earlbaum and this latest book revisits where Janice spent timeless as a homeless teen---how she reaches out and begins volunteering Wednesdays by making beaded necklaces, bracelets, etc as a way to reach the homess teens. Janice meets and helps Sam (Samantha Dunleavy) and this is a gripping story, Janice extends herself, saves Sam and along the way learns alot about herself, her world, Sam's world and those arouns her who love her and support her. This was a tough book to read and I am still digesting it....Keep on writing Janice, your books are worthwhile and illuminating about the homeless world of teens.

  • Brooke.bischoff
    2019-03-23 20:11

    eh....the ending could have been so much better. Like, she spent all this time building up this interesting story about a girl savant with an incredibly difficult like, and then, it's almost like she got sick of writing about her, and so just tacked on an ending that seemed short and out of place.I understand it's a memoir and that you kind of have to tell things how they happened, I just felt like too much was left unfinished. Interesting story though, I wish I could have seen it to a better ending.

  • Renee
    2019-03-24 20:34

    In this memoir, the author begins by describing her initially disapointing experience as an idealistic volunteer at a shelter for homeless teens. Those who have worked in social services should be able to relate Erlbaum's experience as a volunteer at the shelter. The author develops an intense friendship with one of the teens from the shelter. Erlbaum's account of this increasingly complex and intense relationship kept me interested enough to read this book in a few days. The plot has an interesting twist towards the end - let me know when you suspected it was coming....

  • Heidi Larew
    2019-02-25 19:11

    This book was given to me very thoughtfully as a birthday present. At first it was hard to read because the author writes from her own experience helping troubled teens and her difficulty with setting boundaries was so hard to "watch." I admired her genuineness. After a while the book was impossible to put down. It was so engaging. By the end, she had grown amazingly. Now I recommend the book to graduate students and encourage them to read the whole way through so we can discuss the author's experience. It's a very neat book.

  • Jennifer
    2019-02-23 19:21

    I read this in 3 hours--it knocked me out entirely.

  • Stephanie
    2019-02-27 15:24

    Keeps your attention the whole way through

  • windy otto
    2019-03-11 18:33

    I'm just in shock. Like this book was written to get back at Sam somehow for not wanting Janice in her life anymore

  • Kim
    2019-03-17 18:39

    I'm at the bitter stage of life where I resist reading memoirs by people somewhere around my age, simply for that self-involved reason that they've written it and I haven't. I'm so glad that "Have You Found Her" landed in my mailbox and broke me out of this sad, jealous, self-limitation. I read this energetic, flowing narrative in two sittings, and was so struck by the honesty of Janice Erlbaum's story and its compelling ideas of change and growth that I'm re-examining my own resistance to writing.Almost 20 years after spending two and a half months in a New York City shelter, Erlbaum returned to volunteer. At first she only barely breaks the "no favorites" rule, allowing herself to particularly care about some of the more engaging girls who come to her jewelry-making sessions, but one after the other. "Have you found her yet?" she describes not asking herself. "The one who reminds you of you?" Then she meets Sam, and while she quickly stops trying to draw parallels between Sam's horror stories and her own experiences, she opens herself up to loving and caring for this street-smart 18-year-old like a mother. Sam faces challenge after challenge, and Erlbaum and two other concerned adults stand in with her. Then events unfold further, even collapsing in on themselves, and the real challenge is the one that Erlbaum herself has to face.The surface read of the title, and indeed the book, is that the "Her" of the title is Sam. Sam certainly needs finding. Her intelligence is fierce, and so are her emotional reactions to events. Those reactions lead to new difficulties, and both Sam and Erlbaum have to deal with the fallout. But it also becomes apparent that the real search is the one that Erlbaum is conducting for herself... her caring, intelligent, adult self. In working to help Sam, she has to set aside her own ideas of herself, her visions of herself as heroic volunteer and selfless savior, and look hard at who she really is and what she wants from life. And give her credit for the spotlight she trains on herself, her actions, and her motivations... she isn't worried about being likable all the time, or glowing with goodness. Instead she uses the opportunity of helping Sam (and the later opportunity of writing "Have You Found Her?") to get down to the nitty-gritty, to self-evaluate, and to change.

  • Librariann
    2019-03-02 19:36

    When Janice Erlbaum (author of Girlbomb) begins volunteering at the shelter where she briefly lived as a teen, she immediately feels a connection to the 18 to 20 year old girls she sees. None, however, touch her heart the way nineteen year old Sam does. Sam, a heroin addict who has been on the streets for seven years, is also a talented writer. Despite rules to the contrary (rules, as the gruff program head reminds Janice, that exist as much to protect the volunteers as the girls), Janice and Sam almost immediately form a deep bond that the author several times compares to being in love. Adding to the drama of Sam’s attempts to recover from her drug addiction are a myriad of uncommon health problems that keep her bouncing from the shelter and various rehab centers to the hospital, even near death at one point. The jacket copy hints tantalizingly at a secret that Sam is hiding from the adult mentors and counselors in her life, and although this is a key turning point in the narrative, it’s not this that gives meaning to the bulk of the story. What will keep readers entranced is the relationship between this tragic little girl lost and an adult who reaches out to her as an attempt to grasp a past self whose heart appears almost equally damaged. As with Mark Salzman’s True Notebooks, it’s the lessons the author receives from the experience of working with these disadvantaged youth, and not the other way around, that really matters. Older teen girls, especially those who have read Girlbomb, will be drawn in by the diverse stories of the lives of the girls of the shelter, and be mesmerized and horrified at the gritty descriptions of Sam’s life, which is stranger than fiction - for good reason. The book didn't leave my hands for an entire evening as I devoured it, from couch to bathtub to bed, and the idea that Sam is still out there suffering haunted me long after the final page.

  • Liz Dunham
    2019-02-24 18:41

    My interest in this book stemmed from the example of homelessness in new york city. However, I think there are several themes in this book that are important in the social work field and reflected some of my own experiences and processes. This memoir is based on an experience of a woman and her relationship that develops with a homeless teen. The woman (Janice) first comes in contact with the girl when she decides to become a volunteer at the shelter she once used as a teen. Despite her relevant personal experience, this woman is volunteering for the first time in her life and has a distinct nativity that I believe is common to many (most?) when first entering this type of role. On a personal level, it reminded me of when I first worked at summer camp or first started babysitting and I felt awkward and out of place. The phase she has once she gets comfortable with the girls at the shelter of having favorites she obsesses over reminds me of the ways some people at camp inappropriately could have (and clearly show) favorites. The way the central character manipulates and relapses and struggles resonates with what I see clients go through. However, it is interesting to see a non-professional take on the task of helping this girl. The way that Janet's life got unbalanced by Samantha's demands and needs makes clear why professional boundaries are necessary to address these needs. Then again, the professionals that were available for her were not able to dedicate the time to fix it. I suppose Janet tries to fill the role that family would fill, by giving up those boundaries, but the problem is that she is not family and does not truly know this girl. She ultimately becomes an enabler in nearly disastruous ways.

  • Emily Cochran
    2019-03-07 19:13

    In Have You Found Her, Janice Erlbaum has written a fine a memoir with all the trappings of a novel. As a kid, Erlbaum fled her home only to find herself in the New York City shelter system. By her mid-thirties, having reconciled with her parents and attained some measure of success in her life, Janice decides it is time to return to the shelter where she once resided to volunteer and give back to the place that helped her when she most needed it. In the mist of of her volunteering, Janice meets Sam, an abused, drug-addicted, and very troubled teenager trying to turn her life around. She sees something of herself in Sam and falls in love with the girl and what she has the potential to do for Sam. As their relationship deepens and Sam's health takes a turn for the worse, Janice learns that Sam is even more disturbed than she could have imagined. Erlbaum's memoir is compulsively readable. She bluntly confronts the dilemmas of volunteering head on. Do we volunteer and try to help merely for the sake of being considered a "good citcizen"? Or do we volunteer to give ourselves that good feeling that comes from having sacrificed of ourselves for the good of others? Erlbaum confronts this and many other questions as she explores her relationship with Sam and both the good and bad things it brings out in herself. While it's hard to watch Erlbaum struggle through a year of being an influence to a severely troubled girl, it's easy to see why she fell in love with Sam and her very mixed feelings about feeling responsible for a girl who is so smart and so lovable but also so tremendously damaged.

  • Heidi
    2019-03-08 21:21

    Janice, the author, went to volunteer at a homeless shelter for teenage girls, which was Janice's shelter for a few years when she was a teenager. Janice was a looking for a way to give something back, as well as a way to put the past behind her and move on with the good life she had built for herself. Instead she met Samantha, a troubled teenage runaway, and basically fell in love (the non-romantic kind) with her. Sam's problems consumed Janice's life, much to the chagrin of Janice's husband. And Sam had problems. Lots of them. Problems in the past, and problems in the present. For one thing, Sam kept getting sick, the kind of sick that landed her in Intensive Care time after time.The book goes on from there, and there's kind of a mind-blowing twist towards the end, but most of the book is about Janice taking care of Sam. But really, I couldn't figure out why. I didn't understand the allure at all. I suspect Janice is codependent and she was looking for someone to take care of, and Sam happened into her life. (Janice, by the way, is not unaware of her own mental issues. Throughout the book she kept alluding to her personality quirks in an almost embarrassingly self-deprecating way.)I just couldn't relate. I understand wanting to save the world, but taking an emotionally needy homeless girl to Coney Island seemed like a weird way to do it. And referring to Sam as her adopted daughter but then not letting Sam see where she lives--I just didn't understand the relationship. So for me, the whole book was a big, "Now WHY are you doing THAT?"

  • Jen
    2019-03-06 18:15

    Have You Found Her, Janet Erlbaum's second memoir, tells the story of Sam, a young, homeless girl who is desperate for attention, and Ms. Erlbaum's quest to help Sam in the hopes of making up for her own damaged teenage years. This book was somewhat entertaining and I enjoy Ms. Erlbaum's style of writing, but I did find the middle of the book to be a bit tedious at times. A couple hundred pages lead up to the big revelation and then the book is wrapped up abruptly, almost as though a deadline were looming. I would have been more interested to hear stories about several of the girls in the shelter instead of focusing on just one.[return][return]Although I realize that Ms. Erlbaum had her motives for befriending Sam, I was initially put off by the unhealthy level of concern she had for the girl. Several times throughout the memoir she expressed worry over the fact that people were going to find her relationship with Sam inappropriate and, quite frankly, it was. As someone who has worked with troubled youth, I caught myself cringing several times while reading the book. I also found it hard to sympathize with Ms. Erlbaum's enabling ways and with the fact that she often brushed friends and family aside to solve Sam's perpetual crises. While Have You Found Her has its merits, if you're looking for atroubled young girl memoir, better ones exist.

  • K
    2019-03-07 16:32

    Anyone who's thinking of going into kiruv, or doing other work with teenagers (especially disadvantaged ones), should read this book, especially if they have the capacity for honest self-reflection.This highly readable memoir describes a successful graduate of a teen homeless shelter who goes back to the shelter twenty years later to volunteer, ostensibly for altruistic reasons, but is actually propelled by a subconscious desire to find a teen who reminds her of her former self and be a hero to this teen, changing the teen's life for the better. Erlbaum is brutally honest about her mixed motives and describes how they caused her to rationalize breaking all kinds of rules and boundaries in her interactions with the girls. Her ego-investment eventually led her to become unhealthily preoccupied with one girl in particular at the expense of her judgment and personal life, and ultimately blinded her to seeing the truth about the girl she thought she was helping.I took off one star because it got a little repetitive at one point (Sam has a crisis, Janice helps her, Janice feels good, Sam seems to be doing well, Sam has another crisis, and the cycle continues). However, I still enjoyed the book a lot and would encourage people to read it. I got a lot out of it; it validated a lot of my theories about the "Pygmalion" complex in people who do kiruv.

  • Terry
    2019-03-24 18:27

    I really liked Erlbaum's Girlbomb; I really like her writing in general (I remember her from Bust!). Thus I enjoyed Have You Found Her because of her writing style and because she's generally so honest about her own failings. The only quibble I had about this particular book is that it was sooooo obvious to me that she was being conned! It's a little surprising to me that someone who has the life experience that Janice does is so easily taken in; I was suspicious of Sam from very beginning. As the saying goes, liars are always on the lookout for people lying to them. The most poignant part of the book, for me, is that she's honest about her lust--desire is not a strong-enough word--to be liked, to be accepted, to be someone's favorite, to give someone in need the gift of being her favorite. Running underneath the narrative (again, a little bit tiresome ONLY BECAUSE I was waiting impatiently for Sam's lies to start to unravel) is Erlbaum's exploration of her own needs and the pitfalls those needs can create, even when--perhaps especially when--one is truly acting out of kindness.

  • Merredith
    2019-03-04 20:15

    Have you found her is a true story about the author going to volunteer at a homeless shelter with teenaged girls, because she'd once stayed there as a teen herself. She emotionally attaches herself to one girl in particular and forms a really weird relationship with her. the rules of the program are that she can't contact the girls, but she does anyway. if i were the people in charge at the shelter i'd be totally freaked out by her actions towards this girl, and they were somewhat, but ultimately too busy to have time to care. this is the story of their relationship, where she spends every effort in her life to help this girl. the ending is a kind of twist, which unfortunately i found out right as i started reading this by accidentally reading a spoiler review that wasn't marked as spoiler. please people, don't spoil things!! i think both ends of this relationship, the women needed help. i'm not sure the author has gotten that or not. it was interesting, but drags a bit. might make a good movie!