I just finished a book, after running back to the beach because it was mistakenly left there, that I am going to pass off 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 down memoir. It actually reads like a novel, s suspenseful one at that, full of plot twists and turns. I finished it in 2 days.  The little blurb I read about in my local library’s Bookpage didn’t do this 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 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 calls him and three cats.

At first the volunteering doesn’t go very well.  Her nervousness shows and the kids aren’t gravitating to her for help. Janice is just not sure if she could do it.  She soon realizes she has to have a shtick if she wants their attention and find a younger version of her to help so one day brings a bag load 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 of the window when Janice meets Samantha.  Samantha is brilliant junkie who has been on her own since she was 12. She is incredibly lovable and also incredibly damaged.  Samantha says a lot of things through out the time Janice come 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 when 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 any second, you couldn’t help to get sad and emotional.  You start to wonder if you can really save another persons soul.

I wonder where Sam is now…..