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Finding Home: How Americans Prevail    by Sally Ooms order for
Finding Home
by Sally Ooms
Order:  USA  Can
Home Free Publishing, 2013 (2013)
Softcover, e-Book
* *   Reviewed by Bob Walch

Sally Ooms traveled the USA asking a simple question, 'What is a home?' The answers she received differed depending upon where the journalist was and whom she was interviewing. In their own words, 48 people offer a number of responses regarding what constitutes a home and how one goes about creating a sense of home.

As you page through Finding Home: How Americans Prevail, you'll visit ten states and hear how those who have been displaced have coped with the loss and then the recreation of their homes. Those who share their stories include vets, foster kids, single moms, laid-off workers, retirees and small business owners.

In most cases they have been uprooted or nearly displaced by calamities such as natural disasters, the downturn in the economy, personal social upheavals or just bad luck.

'What surprised me listening to people was the things they had in common, even though they didn't seem to be alike in the least,' said Ooms. 'I started to see how ubiquitous the need to call a place home is.'

The individuals who share their stories with us include a seventeen year old boy who lives temporarily with his sister and a friend in El Cajon, California, and who is hoping to get into the Job Corps. His short, three page narrative is followed by a much lengthier one from a retired college teacher who lives in Colorado whose 'experiments living with other people have failed', so he now lives by himself.

Ooms criss-crosses the map from the Haight-Ashbury district of San Francisco and an assisted living facility in Iowa to a tornado ravished town in Kansas and post-Katrina New Orleans.

A former resident of the San Francisco Bay Area, Joanne retired in New Orleans and works in a French Quarter bookstore. When Katrina hit, she fled to Houston with her mother while her father remained behind in a nursing home. When they returned she and her mother discovered her father had perished in the storm.

'My neighborhood is pretty much intact. The neighbors check on my mom every day. She's ninety-one now,' Joanne writes, describing their present life. 'Our gay guy friends take her to church on Sundays. They go to a Methodist church on the edge of the Quarter that feeds the homeless on Sundays. The church is a gas. They have a large GLTG group plus a few drunks, ladies of the evening and others who choose to live here. It's all part of the inclusiveness of the neighborhood and larger New Orleans.'

Ooms states that she did not want to publish a gloom-and-doom book. What she wanted to do and did was present a group of interesting people who have coped with the problems that have come their way and prevailed.

'I find their stories uplifting,' she says, 'I feel privileged to have made their acquaintance. I hope you do too.'

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