A homeless youth in San Francisco searches for true freedom in Rush’s debut.
Bo, a student in San Francisco, is eager to escape the confines of his dysfunctional family. He gets two tantalizing glimpses of a world beyond his own: first, an older homeless man named Ronnie buys him alcohol and tells him about the true freedom that comes from being homeless; then he meets Violet, a free-spirited runaway to whom he is immediately drawn. After his alcoholic mother dies, Bo packs up, leaving behind his sister and his stepfather and goes to live in Golden Gate Park with Violet. His blissful time with Violet ends abruptly when her ex-boyfriend is freed from jail, and she leaves Bo. Alone, broke and desperate, Bo runs into Ronnie again and joins in his pursuit of true freedom. Together, they steal food, do drugs, but most of all try to survive in the brutal underbelly of San Francisco. For all the thrills, Bo cannot sustain this life, and the questions becomes whether he can be saved from the downward spiral that he has let himself fall into. Rush’s account is moving, and he captures both the initial joy of Bo’s freedom from the binds of his family and his quick descent into addiction and misery. Rush does well when he portrays the loneliness of not only Bo but of all the homeless men and women Bo encounters on the street. Rush’s portraits of individual members of the homeless community are especially striking, giving a face not only to younger members like Bo, but to veterans, the disabled and the mentally ill who have been on the streets their entire lives. The loneliness these people face, along with Bo’s own struggles, give the story its strongest element, and even when Rush’s writing meanders, the overall quest to escape loneliness makes the book a solid depiction of homelessness in San Francisco.
A full rendering of the highs and lows of being homeless.