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Those Who Wander: America's Lost Street Kids

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Award-winning journalist Vivian Ho exposes a shattering true-crime story, shedding light on America’s new lost generation. In 2015, the senseless Bay Area murders of twenty-three-year-old Audrey Carey and sixty-seven-year-old Steve Carter were personal tragedies for the victims’ families. But they also shed light on a more complex issue. The killers were three drifters Award-winning journalist Vivian Ho exposes a shattering true-crime story, shedding light on America’s new lost generation. In 2015, the senseless Bay Area murders of twenty-three-year-old Audrey Carey and sixty-seven-year-old Steve Carter were personal tragedies for the victims’ families. But they also shed light on a more complex issue. The killers were three drifters scrounging for a living among a burgeoning counterculture population. Soon this community of runaways and transients became vulnerable scapegoats of a modern witch hunt. The supposedly progressive residents of San Francisco’s Haight-Ashbury, only two generations removed from the Summer of Love, now feared all of society’s outcasts as threats. In Those Who Wander, Vivian Ho delves deep into a rising subculture that’s changing the very fabric of her city and all of urban America. Moving beyond the disheartening statistics, she gives voices to these young people—victims of abuse, failed foster care, mental illness, and drug addiction. She also doesn’t ignore the threat they pose to themselves and to others as a dangerous dark side emerges. With alarming urgency, she asks what can be done to save the next generation of America’s vagabond youth.


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Award-winning journalist Vivian Ho exposes a shattering true-crime story, shedding light on America’s new lost generation. In 2015, the senseless Bay Area murders of twenty-three-year-old Audrey Carey and sixty-seven-year-old Steve Carter were personal tragedies for the victims’ families. But they also shed light on a more complex issue. The killers were three drifters Award-winning journalist Vivian Ho exposes a shattering true-crime story, shedding light on America’s new lost generation. In 2015, the senseless Bay Area murders of twenty-three-year-old Audrey Carey and sixty-seven-year-old Steve Carter were personal tragedies for the victims’ families. But they also shed light on a more complex issue. The killers were three drifters scrounging for a living among a burgeoning counterculture population. Soon this community of runaways and transients became vulnerable scapegoats of a modern witch hunt. The supposedly progressive residents of San Francisco’s Haight-Ashbury, only two generations removed from the Summer of Love, now feared all of society’s outcasts as threats. In Those Who Wander, Vivian Ho delves deep into a rising subculture that’s changing the very fabric of her city and all of urban America. Moving beyond the disheartening statistics, she gives voices to these young people—victims of abuse, failed foster care, mental illness, and drug addiction. She also doesn’t ignore the threat they pose to themselves and to others as a dangerous dark side emerges. With alarming urgency, she asks what can be done to save the next generation of America’s vagabond youth.

30 review for Those Who Wander: America's Lost Street Kids

  1. 5 out of 5

    Whistlers Mom

    As the author admits, there's much "information" in this book that can never be verified. So let's start with what can be. In October, 2015, three young people murdered and robbed 23-year-old Audrey Carey In San Francisco. Then they moved north into Marin County. They were headed to Oregon, but first they needed to steal a car. For a victim, they chose 67-year-old Steve Carter, who was returning to his car after walking his dog. They shot and killed Carter and wounded his dog, then started north As the author admits, there's much "information" in this book that can never be verified. So let's start with what can be. In October, 2015, three young people murdered and robbed 23-year-old Audrey Carey In San Francisco. Then they moved north into Marin County. They were headed to Oregon, but first they needed to steal a car. For a victim, they chose 67-year-old Steve Carter, who was returning to his car after walking his dog. They shot and killed Carter and wounded his dog, then started north in his car. Haze Lampley was 26, his girlfriend Lila Alligood was 18, and their recently acquired friend was 25-year-old Sean Angold. Lampley's family owned land in rural Oregon and he intended to settle down and grow pot, but they never got there. They stopped at a Catholic Church in Portland which runs a dining hall and showers for the homeless, the GPS on Steve Carter's car alerted police, and they were arrested and charged with murder. As is the norm, each one claimed innocence and blamed the killings on the others. Angold turned state's evidence and received a reduced sentence for doing so. Lampley was sentenced to 100 years in prison and Alligood to 50. A new California law now allows for earlier parole hearings. Lampley could be released in his fifties; Alligood as early as 43. The author was a young, naive reporter at the time of the murders. A product of a loving, stable home and a recent transplant from New England, she was intrigued by the "street people" culture of San Francisco and the conflicting emotions it arouses in those who live there. Some feel the presence of eccentrics and free spirits adds to the color and excitement of the city. Some pity those who deal daily with the danger and hardships of living on the street. Some see the homeless as lazy and dangerous, making the city a place they no longer want to live. And the majority swing from one feeling to the other, just as most of us do. Caught up in the story of the murders, the young woman threw herself into researching the lives of Haze Lampley and Lila Alligood, trying to figure out what made them what they are. For some reason, she tells nothing about Sean Angold. He is despised by his friends and their families for being a "snitch." Does the author share that feeling or was there some other reason she didn't focus more on Angold? We never learn. I was surprised that she uses the term "street kids" for all homeless people, regardless of age. She cites a study that shows 7,500 homeless people in San Francisco, with 1/3 under the age of 30 and 1/2 under the age of 40. That means that half of them are 40 or older, but in this book they're ALL "dirty kids" who live on the street. The managers of shelters and help centers she interviews vigorously deny that any of these people are homeless by choice. According to them, all homeless have fled abusive families and turned to drugs to deal with the pain of their childhoods. Ms. Ho accepts this mantra completely. Lampley's story (early childhood with a drug-addicted mother, then a stint with an abusive father) seems to bear this out. But further investigation shows that his tales are as full of holes as Swiss cheese. On the other hand, Alligood was undeniably a child of privilege, attending a prestigious private school in Hawaii, from which she was expelled for selling drugs. When her mother tried to relocate the family to help her daughter, Lila ran away. She and others the author interviewed WERE on the street by choice. I was irritated by the constant use of "kids" (which implies no responsibility) but I have to admit that all of the people she interviewed (young and old) have one thing in common - they share the "teenager" mentality that all parents and teachers recognize. They feel invincible and pride themselves on taking risks. They resent rules and authority. They have unrealistic ideas about what they're entitled to and what's likely to be in their futures. They're reluctant to accept any responsibility for their actions and resentful when things go wrong for them. They're incapable of seeing very far ahead or of anticipating cause-and-effect. They trust only their peers; everyone else is the enemy. And they have no scruples about lying to or stealing from that enemy! Most of us learn early that these attitudes don't lead to success and happiness. In other words, we grow up. The nation of restless wanderers this author describes never do. Some are caught in a cycle of bad decisions. Others simply opt out of "normal" life. The author agonizes over the hardships of homelessness and searches for an answer. She quickly finds that there isn't one because homeless people are no more homogeneous than any other group. Some are rootless by choice. Some are mentally ill. Some have been abused as children. Some are simply misfits or people who were born in the wrong century. So what's the answer? More treatment for mental health and/or addiction is needed, but most of us have seen loving families who've sacrificed to send a mentally ill or addicted loved one for expensive treatment with no improvement. Affordable housing is a huge need in this country, but a mentally ill or addicted or emotionally unstable person can seldom take advantage of even the most generous public benefit programs. Ask the people who run programs for the homeless all over the country and they'll tell you of successes and failures. The author is a young (to me) woman from a privileged background whose guilt over the unfairness of life colors her thinking. I look at life from the viewpoint of seven decades of observation and experience. I live in a town with unusually extensive programs for homeless people, including transitional housing. I vacation in a coastal town with almost no help programs, but hundreds of homeless attracted by the warm weather and the beach life. I can say this for sure. There are NO easy answers to this problem. We have to try, but we should have reasonable expectations and we should avoid assigning wholesale blame to the families of the homeless. This book is well-written and very readable. The young author opens up about her own struggles to deal with the murders and the people who committed them. She shares her frustration at the impossibility of learning the truth from people who are programmed to lie and cover up and blame others for their problems. She beautifully expresses the anger and sorrow and guilt that we ALL feel when we see someone who lacks the basics of life. She's written a book that makes the reader think. For that reason, it's a valuable effort.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Dee Arr

    Although the book relates the stories of Lila Scott Alligood, Morrison Haze Lampley, and Sean Michael Angold, author Vivian Ho uses their experiences as a jumping-off point to offer a look at a serious problem: homelessness, and primarily for those who are not yet considered adults. Alligood, Lampley, and Angold are all serving time for the murders of Audrey Carey and Steve Carter. Ms. Ho doesn’t excuse their crimes. Rather, she delves into the myriad causes, how all the smaller instances can Although the book relates the stories of Lila Scott Alligood, Morrison Haze Lampley, and Sean Michael Angold, author Vivian Ho uses their experiences as a jumping-off point to offer a look at a serious problem: homelessness, and primarily for those who are not yet considered adults. Alligood, Lampley, and Angold are all serving time for the murders of Audrey Carey and Steve Carter. Ms. Ho doesn’t excuse their crimes. Rather, she delves into the myriad causes, how all the smaller instances can lead up to actions most people find difficult to comprehend. During the journey, the author ventures into a different world, that of the homeless children (sometimes referred to as “dirty kids”). She presents the material as facts, never writing to pull at the reader’s heartstrings; instead, the author presents her findings and allows us to determine our own final thoughts. Ms. Ho’s writing is descriptive and to the point. At times the book reads like a novel, as the author offers a range of details to help us understand. For instance, we learn about “Haze” Lampley’s childhood from both his mother and mother-in-law (Lampley lived with his father from age 7 to 12). The stories conflict, both blaming the other for Lampley’s behavior and at times it is difficult for the parties to agree even on the simplest of events. To her credit, Ms. Ho presents each side and ultimately allows the reader to filter through the stories and come up with their own conclusions. The author was not content to fill up her book with background details from newspapers, magazines, and other books. To her credit, she “got her hands dirty” by meeting face-to-face with homeless youths and those who work with them, conducting these visits in the subjects’ own environments. This allowed a realistic picture to be drawn from Ms. Ho’s own experiences, injecting the book with a subtle power that resonates throughout the chapters. She allows herself to be a conduit for the people who have experienced homelessness, both those who have found their way to a safer place and for those who still call the streets their home. An enlightening, sobering read. Recommended. Five stars.

  3. 5 out of 5

    MM Suarez

    A well done book on a very important subject. If this human tragedy touches you and you are able to help, check out covenanthouse.org in the US, Canada or Latin America, to help save the ones we can A well done book on a very important subject. If this human tragedy touches you and you are able to help, check out covenanthouse.org in the US, Canada or Latin America, to help save the ones we can🙏

  4. 5 out of 5

    Jon

    Part true crime, part exploration of homelessness. Vivian Ho documents the murders of Audrey Carey and Steve Carter at the hands of three "street kids" in San Francisco. Remove references and the extra sections of this book and the bulk of the content clocks in at under 200 pages. It should have been shorter. The unnecessary repetition of events and phrases brought me back to my school days of adding extra fluff for the purpose of hitting a specified page limit. There wasn't enough depth to the Part true crime, part exploration of homelessness. Vivian Ho documents the murders of Audrey Carey and Steve Carter at the hands of three "street kids" in San Francisco. Remove references and the extra sections of this book and the bulk of the content clocks in at under 200 pages. It should have been shorter. The unnecessary repetition of events and phrases brought me back to my school days of adding extra fluff for the purpose of hitting a specified page limit. There wasn't enough depth to the reporting on either the murders or homelessness, but the latter lacked more overall and most affected my rating. I would have enjoyed reading about more meaningful conversations between the author and her contacts for a deeper insight into their lives and what makes them click. That said, as someone ignorant towards the extent of this issue in the Bay Area, the book served as a solid introductory course. I also found the discussions with the main culprit, Morrison Haze Lampley, to be interesting. Overall it's a thought-provoking piece, but unable to offer solutions (as stated in the beginning) or achieve the author's primary intent (finding remorse from the killer).

  5. 5 out of 5

    Cami

    I read this in an afternoon. Absolutely incredible. The writing and reporting are excellent, and the stories are haunting. Highly recommended to foster parents, social workers, teachers, or anyone who wants children to have true childhoods.

  6. 4 out of 5

    MBP

    It's a tragic story: three troubled homeless kids find each other and then, fueled by drugs, commit two murders together. I thought this was both overwritten, especially in the first half, and underinvestigated. The author is a journalist, and this reads like a collection of articles about the case that needed to be connected to make a book. I wish that had been done by looking more deeply into the lives of the kids, or into the many social issues involved, than by editorializing.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Tammie

    Just ok. Expected more For 200 pages there wasn't enough 'meat' to this book. What I found most annoying was that it was so repetitive. Ho mentions the same facts and details over and over again as if the reader is incapable of remembering them from one chapter to the next.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Stacy Jones

    Not about what it says This book is almost solely focused on a murder. It then makes attempts to connect the fact that the murderers where street kids to make a statement about street kids for about three chapters. I was anticipating investigative journalism and possible social commentary and got a true crime book. Not happy!

  9. 5 out of 5

    Jessica Frey

    DNF at ~15%. Not interested in feeling empathy for murderers.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Julie Baker

    The hard and painful truth of youth homelessness Ho portrayed first-hand, raw experiences with west coast homeless youths and the entire counterculture around "houselessness". It's not only heartbreaking but scary how much of an epidemic it has become with no real possibility of a light at the end of a very dark tunnel.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Laura

    I followed this author on Twitter for the lighthearted doggo- and food-related content, so this thoughtful book was an added bonus.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Kirk Mahoney

    Lessons from this book: > Don't do drugs. > People are not basically good. > Trusting others is difficult for homeless kids. > Some murderers will NEVER express remorse; almost ALL express victimhood. > Once someone becomes homeless, it becomes increasingly difficult to break out of it. > Broken, abusive, and drug-using homes increase the likelihood of kids becoming homeless. > Weekly religious observance was not part of the family life of ANY homeless kid in this book.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Jennifer

    As a former street kid myself, I expected a lot more. This was a great concept, but sadly the book reads like outlining notes. Lacking in depth and truly genuine contacts, the authors brief encounters with various street kids read like blurbs, not the true, in-depth meaningful insights into their reality that the book aimed for. The entire book seems like an introduction. It kept me reading in hopes of the stories fleshing out and actually giving intimate glimpses into life on the streets. But it As a former street kid myself, I expected a lot more. This was a great concept, but sadly the book reads like outlining notes. Lacking in depth and truly genuine contacts, the authors brief encounters with various street kids read like blurbs, not the true, in-depth meaningful insights into their reality that the book aimed for. The entire book seems like an introduction. It kept me reading in hopes of the stories fleshing out and actually giving intimate glimpses into life on the streets. But it just never happened.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Dani

    Impossible to put down. An absolutely riveting, heartbreaking look at homeless kids in America, and their lives, told through the story of three young people and their crimes. The author is an immensely talented reporter and writer, who clearly went to great lengths to tell this story. She presents this powerful story in such a compelling way, it reads like a novel. A must read.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Charlotte Byrd

    Totally absorbing and impossible to put down! Fast-paced, intriguing and captivating! I enjoyed reading about the lives of street kids and all of their hardships and tribulations. The author has done an amazing job presenting all of the research in a beautiful narrative that I couldn’t stop reading. You don’t want to miss this!

  16. 5 out of 5

    Gina Bégin

    A lot of the reviews say it doesn't dive deep enough into the murders that the three main subjects committed. But that's not the point of this book. This book aims to understand how the culture of street kids was created and is maintained, what the foundation of many of these kids is based on, and their perspectives on living -- which is just that -- living, rather than thriving. It's not a book on murder. It's not a study on the murder cases. It's not even necessarily about the three murderers A lot of the reviews say it doesn't dive deep enough into the murders that the three main subjects committed. But that's not the point of this book. This book aims to understand how the culture of street kids was created and is maintained, what the foundation of many of these kids is based on, and their perspectives on living -- which is just that -- living, rather than thriving. It's not a book on murder. It's not a study on the murder cases. It's not even necessarily about the three murderers who committed the crimes as the center of this book. It's about understanding (and after reading this book, it's given me more of that for this demographic). Others have said it leaves no answers. "And then what?" This isn't a textbook. The answers aren't supposed to be handed to us in everything we read. Some books are meant to open our eyes and see things differently or discover something entirely new, and do with that what we will. Maybe it will spark action in someone who will find the answers. Maybe it will just show us another side to our perspectives. This book is well-written and shows humanity where it is often overlooked.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Suzanne

    This was very well researched, and very well written. The author developed a great understanding of homelessness on the West Coast, and makes many excellent and true points. I don't think it should be subtitled "America's" Lost... though. It is very specifically about the west coast homeless, which is understandable as that is where the author lives and works, but it misses some aspects of homelessness in other parts of the country (and the country as a whole). A couple of these: Detroit This was very well researched, and very well written. The author developed a great understanding of homelessness on the West Coast, and makes many excellent and true points. I don't think it should be subtitled "America's" Lost... though. It is very specifically about the west coast homeless, which is understandable as that is where the author lives and works, but it misses some aspects of homelessness in other parts of the country (and the country as a whole). A couple of these: Detroit perspective: (1) homeless kids here are born to homeless parents. They have never known a home, and it is most definitely not a choice. Sure there are runaways (primarily from foster care), and definitely drugs and violence, but not the hippie/vagabond feel of the west coast. Here, there are homeless families. Most of the "kids" in this book were not minors, but the problem of homeless minors, and their families is worth exploring. (2) In addition to this, across the U.S. there are "hidden homeless" -- people who are out there couch surfing and unsure where the next meal will come from. These people don't live in close to areas with services, and are often too ashamed to let others know of the situation. Of course people like this are also more difficult for an author/researcher to find! Just thoughts on issues to include in research about homelessness across the U.S. Overall, very enjoyable and interesting.

  18. 4 out of 5

    trning_leaves.n.pgs

    3.5 At first I found this book offensive. I felt bad for the relatives of the victims for knowing that someone was defending the actions of the killers because they had a horrible childhood. It's true. And we know that 'hurt people hurt people'. And I can't imagine growing up like these kids, but cold murders? No remorse. She goes on to explain that we as a nation have to stop turning a blind eye to homeless children growing up in the streets. Yes. That. She redeemed herself a little at the end. 3.5 At first I found this book offensive. I felt bad for the relatives of the victims for knowing that someone was defending the actions of the killers because they had a horrible childhood. It's true. And we know that 'hurt people hurt people'. And I can't imagine growing up like these kids, but cold murders? No remorse. She goes on to explain that we as a nation have to stop turning a blind eye to homeless children growing up in the streets. Yes. That. She redeemed herself a little at the end. But I'm still feeling some kind of way about it.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Nicole G.

    An interesting mix of true crime and immersive journalism. The author makes connections with some of the street kids of California, learning about their reasons for living on the streets. I don't believe the three who committed murder should be excused for their actions, and I don't believe the author does, either. However, homelessness is a serious problem, and it's even more heartbreaking when children are involved.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Rebecca

    Kindle First Reads - August 2019

  21. 4 out of 5

    Jamie

    The repetition is so annoying. I read it for a book club and that is the only reason I finished it. It had interesting things in it, but those were hidden amidst "fluff" that was unnecessary.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Chanda Curry

    Not all wanderers are lost, but they are all searching for something. I just really can’t put into words, how deeply I was touched by this book.I come from an abusive childhood and a drug addicted twenties.Wanted to live in the streets when I was 14 to run away from an adopted home. Got caught by police. Never imagine what life has in store at that age, you just want to leave. I’m so grateful I did. There is hope and there are people who care for awhile at least, at least back then. Now after 13 Not all wanderers are lost, but they are all searching for something. I just really can’t put into words, how deeply I was touched by this book.I come from an abusive childhood and a drug addicted twenties.Wanted to live in the streets when I was 14 to run away from an adopted home. Got caught by police. Never imagine what life has in store at that age, you just want to leave. I’m so grateful I did. There is hope and there are people who care for awhile at least, at least back then. Now after 13 years sober and finally with open eyes I’m grateful for all I went through because as Momo says No one else could have, it would have destroyed most women and men. Thank you for this. I often wonder what would have happened if I would’ve never gotten away from my dad at age 11. Then the adopted home at 14. Would I have been in your book or dead? Thank God for second and third chances and rock bottom.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Nicole Key

    DNF 17% This is the first book I've decided not to finish in a long while. Frankly, I don't feel sympathy for murderers, the age range of what the author considered street kids going up to 40 baffled me, and her explanations of how many people in the homeless community end up there were repetitive. It's a no from me.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Sharon Phelps

    Boring Not for me!! I thought I would like this book as I have taken in several "sofa surfers" or " street kids " in the past. My children would bring home their friends when they had no where else to stay and I helped them however I could. That included getting surgery for one girl. They stayed weeks to over a year. So you can see that when I saw a book about street kids I thought it would be something I would like. Frankly, I just didn't even finish the book. I couldn't get into it at all. Boring Not for me!! I thought I would like this book as I have taken in several "sofa surfers" or " street kids " in the past. My children would bring home their friends when they had no where else to stay and I helped them however I could. That included getting surgery for one girl. They stayed weeks to over a year. So you can see that when I saw a book about street kids I thought it would be something I would like. Frankly, I just didn't even finish the book. I couldn't get into it at all. Sorry!

  25. 5 out of 5

    Ann

    Somewhere between true crime and sociological reporting, this book uses the story of Haze, Lila and Sean, three young drifters/dirty kids/travelers as an entry into the world of homeless youths, especially in San Diego and Los Angeles. These 3 made news by committing two murders during ill-planned robberies, both in the space of a few days. Their vague plan was to obtain enough money to travel from California to Washington, where Haze wanted to live in his grandfather's cabin in the woods, his Somewhere between true crime and sociological reporting, this book uses the story of Haze, Lila and Sean, three young drifters/dirty kids/travelers as an entry into the world of homeless youths, especially in San Diego and Los Angeles. These 3 made news by committing two murders during ill-planned robberies, both in the space of a few days. Their vague plan was to obtain enough money to travel from California to Washington, where Haze wanted to live in his grandfather's cabin in the woods, his own personal utopia. There is not much detection in the story : a few days after the second robbery/murder they were arrested because they were driving in the victim's car. How did these 3 young people, ages between 19 and 26, end up in such a situation? Not just that they were living on the street, but that they committed these brutal murders? The author tries to reconstruct their lives, but between hazy memories, chronic drug use, constant moving about, foster families, couch surfing, being shuttled from family member to family member, much of what the three, and sometimes their family members say, can either not be verified, or is manifestly incorrect. So much then for factual reporting and digging into the records. What is left for the author is to investigate the subculture of street kids. And so we meet several young people who live on the streets, as well as those, often ex-street kids themselves, who try to help them. Not an easy task. Most of these youngster flee from abusive or unstable homes, are chronic drug users/addicts, and more than a few of them have undiagnosed or untreated mental illnesses. Some of them find an alternative family on the street - but most of these alliances are short-lived, as street kids drift in and out of Ocean Beach or Buena Vista Park. The geographical focus is on San Francisco (with its history of hippie culture) and Ocean Beach (with its history of surfer and beach bum culture), and I do think that the climate on the East Coast is too inhospitable to make this lifestyle tenable. Anyway, what struck me was that some kids experience living on the street as a form of freedom. This sounds counter-intuitive, until you consider what they are running from. The author can not really propose a comprehensive solution to the problem - some of these kids are 3rd generation drug or alcohol addicts or 2nd generation sexual abuse victims - but she certainly managed to make their stories heard.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Maansi

    I am in awe. ‘Those Who Wander’ is a raw, eye-opening read that has managed to pluck me from my very conventional life and put me in the minds of an entire culture of people that I honestly didn’t know existed. I love a book that leaves you changed, moved in some way from where you were previously. Vivian Ho’s compelling storytelling as she slowly unravels the pasts and perspectives of America’s street kids has done just that- opened my eyes to a world I didn’t know existed and transported me to I am in awe. ‘Those Who Wander’ is a raw, eye-opening read that has managed to pluck me from my very conventional life and put me in the minds of an entire culture of people that I honestly didn’t know existed. I love a book that leaves you changed, moved in some way from where you were previously. Vivian Ho’s compelling storytelling as she slowly unravels the pasts and perspectives of America’s street kids has done just that- opened my eyes to a world I didn’t know existed and transported me to think about homelessness with a completely new lens. In 2015, three street kids committed two seemingly random murders within the span of a week that put the city of San Francisco on edge. Given the prevalence of street kids in the communities here, people were understandably concerned about the safety threat this group of homeless posed. Vivian Ho uses this case as a starting point, slowly pulling on the threads that were the three murderers to unravel how they got to this point. In digging through their stories and learning more about the street kids/dirty kids/drifters culture, Ho unpacks how complex their situation really is. Whether it’s mental illnesses and drug addictions that are passed down generation to generation, abusive parents with abusive relationships, a system that makes it impossible for these kids to get help, or the allure of freedom that goes decades back to the flower children of a hippy era - there are a number of factors that led to the tragedy that ended two innocent victims’ lives. It’s only through understanding the complexity of the problem that we can appreciate why this is a tough issue to resolve. As a San Francisco resident, I am all too familiar with the notorious homeless population in the Bay Area. However, as a transplant into this city, I was less familiar with the different kinds of homeless in the city and the history, origins, and rationale behind the street kids culture. I knew that the homeless population here was made of up victims of mental illness and drug abuse, but I was completely caught off guard by the knowledge that many homeless are just kids, who have chosen the ‘drifter’ lifestyle because they’re choosing freedom over a truly troubling life they’ve left behind. Vivian Ho brilliantly illustrates what it means to be a street kid today and is able to stir up empathy for these creatures, resurfacing the age-old question of nature vs nurture and questioning whether these kids ever had a chance for a better life.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Lisa

    Should be two separate books This book is mostly an expose about homeless children in California. There is very little here about the actual crime committed by three homeless teens. In my opinion, this would be much, much better if it were split into two books with one about the murder and the three kids who committed it, and another book about homeless (street) kids in general. I got this book because I like true crime. I was more interested in THAT aspect of it. Instead, this book focused more Should be two separate books This book is mostly an expose about homeless children in California. There is very little here about the actual crime committed by three homeless teens. In my opinion, this would be much, much better if it were split into two books with one about the murder and the three kids who committed it, and another book about homeless (street) kids in general. I got this book because I like true crime. I was more interested in THAT aspect of it. Instead, this book focused more on the community of teen homelessness and how some of it is by choice, how these kids become homeless, and almost a plea for more people to help when we see them asking for money on street corners. This was not formatted in a way that separated the crime from the societal issue so you could read a small amount about one of the kids who committed one of the murders, then in the same paragraph you're reading about another kid on the street. It makes it difficult to skip past the content you're not interested in. Even if the author would have done alternating chapters - one on the crime with the focus on those people and families involved, with the next being about the general homeless (houseless) community and some of those - that would have made it much more orderly. I just don't feel as if I walked away knowing any of the perpetrators of this crime, and I certainly don't feel I knew the victims (who are the most important). Out of all of those involved in the crime, only Haze and his mom are focused on, and I STILL don't feel I knew either of them that well. The other two kids involved, Haze's girlfriend and their friend, I can't even tell you their background. I can't even recall the friends name at this point, he was so rarely mentioned. It's just not very thorough. But if it were two separate books, I feel the author could have concentrated on the separate subjects more completely. I'm sorry. 😕

  28. 5 out of 5

    Lindsey Yarbrough

    Interesting Opinion Piece By the end of the book I had a greater appreciation for the author's opinion and story. The book reads like a long feature piece. It's journalism and because the author is a journalist I hold her accountable to a journalistic standard. To start, the writing begins with poorly formulated and long winded sentences. My brain got stuck in editor mode and I almost stopped reading. Eventually, the writing gets better. This is a book written like factual reporting but laden with Interesting Opinion Piece By the end of the book I had a greater appreciation for the author's opinion and story. The book reads like a long feature piece. It's journalism and because the author is a journalist I hold her accountable to a journalistic standard. To start, the writing begins with poorly formulated and long winded sentences. My brain got stuck in editor mode and I almost stopped reading. Eventually, the writing gets better. This is a book written like factual reporting but laden with biased naivety. By the end the author is finally capable of transparency which redeems the work. It was nice to see someone else calling out the humanity of homelessness. I appreciated the author's non judgmental representation of homelessness. I think if someone can see that the information presented here isn't all factual they can enjoy broadening their horizons on a real issue afflicting society. My issue with some of the author's opinions were that she stated opinion as fact in a biased journalistic manner. I often thought "this is not based on evidence that can be verified, not based on knowledge and truth, she did not use proper descriptors and scientific evidence yet she writes as if she did....that's bad journalism...." Take the "facts" presented here with a grain of salt and open your mind so you too can see the invisible humans thru the author's eyes. Maybe this book can open the hearts, minds, and eyes of those fortunate enough to not live on the streets. It's a good message. It's opinion. There are some facts that aren't facts so don't take this story as evidence. It's simply the author's experience and biased interpretations of her experience. Read and enjoy. It's worth it.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Jessie

    I really did not like this book. I wouldn't have even finished it except for the fact that I received a Kindle version of it in exchange for a review, and so I finished it so that I could give an honest review. The book was confusing--it was all over the place. It would switch stories and then try to go back to the main one to tie it into the book. There was no verifiable truth to any of the stories. The author repeats what she's told and in the same breath says the stories sound impossible or I really did not like this book. I wouldn't have even finished it except for the fact that I received a Kindle version of it in exchange for a review, and so I finished it so that I could give an honest review. The book was confusing--it was all over the place. It would switch stories and then try to go back to the main one to tie it into the book. There was no verifiable truth to any of the stories. The author repeats what she's told and in the same breath says the stories sound impossible or are lies or fantasies. And yet she writes them as histories, which are factual. I did not find many characters that I thought were believable. Much of it was a confusing he said/she said/but there's no way to actually know jumble. The author also did way to much editorializing for me. She tried to give backstory on these homeless people, but it did little to make the characters "sympathetic" enough for me to like or have empathy for. Usually a book like this champions the subject/issue and makes me want to do something to help. This book seemed more of a poor attempt to make me feel guilty for not appreciating people who only take from others--they beg, steal, lie, cheat, sexually assault, abuse, and sometimes murder--for not wanting to look away as crimes are committed and things that others own and work hard for--so that others can live a life free from responsibility and without also having to work and earn their way like the rest of us. I thought the writing was frequently poor, often resorting to profanity instead of finding a proper way to express and explain ideas. I wanted to like this book, but I absolutely did not. It took me weeks to read this because it became such a chore.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Jennifer

    "Those Who Wander" is a provocative book. It made me rethink my view of teen homeless or houseless souls. These young men and women are indeed human who deserve love and respect. While they do in cases choose their current situation, it's often better than their violent, abusive, traumatic, and/or painful home life. While reading the book, I renewed my commitment to breaking patterns and changing the habits in my family so my children know safety, security and love! Although the book discusses "Those Who Wander" is a provocative book. It made me rethink my view of teen homeless or houseless souls. These young men and women are indeed human who deserve love and respect. While they do in cases choose their current situation, it's often better than their violent, abusive, traumatic, and/or painful home life. While reading the book, I renewed my commitment to breaking patterns and changing the habits in my family so my children know safety, security and love! Although the book discusses an important issue, it includes plenty of violence, profanity and sexual content. The storyline also jumps between different characters and time periods, which is confusing in places. I recommend this book to parents, youth workers, clergy, civil justice advocates, and social workers. I highlighted several thought-provoking ideas, including: "Haze believed this land (a family farm in Oregon) to be his birthright. What he inherited instead was generations of drug addiction, mental illness, and hurt that would go on to irrevocably shape the outcome of his life - and the lives of countless others." 3.5 million young adults and 700,000 youth have experienced prolonged homelessness. Crimes committed by homeless kids can be a result of nature and nurture. "Most people don't want to own what they've done because the weight of it is too much and they don't know how to do the work." Those who wander are not all lost, but they are searching for something (worth, value, safety, security, love, acceptance). Some kids figure life out as they travel and live on the street.

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