Friday, April 18, 2008

Girlbomb (rhymes with Erlbaum)

I read and reviewed Janice Erlbaum's second book and memoir late last year compliments of LibraryThing's Early Reviewer program. Erlbaum's publisher was kind enough to offer readers of the advanced edition a copy of her first book which I accepted eagerly.

Girlbomb is also a memoir, about Erlbaum's teenage years. To say they were turbulent would be an understatement. Erlbaum leaves home at age 15 due to a violent stepfather and a mother that continues to put her well-being after his. Living in Brooklyn, she heads to a shelter in NYC. Life there is no picnic either. Erlbaum is harassed due to her minority status and life with a bunch of teenage girls is difficult enough, let alone troubled ones. Erlbaum continues to attend school during this time, but continues down a troubling path. I certainly did some things during my teenage years that were pretty, well, stupid, but never in my wildest imagination did I think of living life as Erlbaum did. Drugs, alcohol, sex - this was a girl looking for attention. As a parent, naturally, this is all very disturbing and definitely sends the message not to stop parenting when your child is a teenager as it seems Erlbaum's mother did.

In many ways I'm glad I read her second book first - because I would have been worried about her well-being after this first book. Of course, we know that Erlbaum is now well - she's a published author, after all. Erlbaum's writing is truly compelling. I find her writing very conversational. This is not an easy book to read - by turns disturbing, dramatic, frightening, crass, yet also hopeful. It is a testament to her writing that you want to keep reading at all. That is no mistake, I think. Erlbaum's writing probably saved her from another sort of life, another path she could easily have chosen. I look forward to what else she has to say, about herself or on another topic.


Bookfool said...

It never fails to amaze me how much trouble some kids can get into, just because of a need for attention. Thanks for the review, Tara. I think I'll skip this one, for now, but her writing sounds interesting.

Tara said...

Bookfool, I know. I don't think I would have read this except for the fact that I enjoyed her second book so much - and knew she is now living a productive life.