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This book suggests that when young people choose to become homeless it is not a sudden event but the result of a long term conflict, abuse or disruption within the household. This conflict is often heightened by parents suffering from alcohol or drug abuse, having no or low incomes, and who have themselves a parent with similar problems.
The book quantifies the experiences of homeless young people and the precarious relationships that they have both with their families and with the people they come into contact with on the street. It provides an appreciation of the knock-on effects for young people of leaving home prior to being financially independent and having alternative means of emotional support and stability. It also highlights the varied nature of being homeless. Some young people are more vulnerable than others. Some are still supported by their parents either being given money or food. Others are driven to become involved in crime, sell drugs or sex for shelter, food or money.
Analysis is very much grounded in the psychosocial level and rarely delves beyond the family and its problems to explain homelessness. Initial analysis in the book highlights the economic background of respondents' parents but this analysis is not carried through the text which is a shame.
Whilst the book is clearly written, the endless inclusion of statistics can become exhausting for the reader; perhaps a more varied approach to presenting the data or the expansion of respondent quotes would remedy this overload. The end of each chapter provides a summary of the findings from the chapter and these are best read prior to the chapter itself to locate whether the crunch of numbers will be useful to the reader.
University of Newcastle