Breakfast at Sally’s by Richard LeMieux

Breakfast at Sally’s is a clumsy but very inspirational (as promised by the subtitle) exposition about the homeless, centered on the author and his adored dog but chronicling the lives of dozens of others who become homeless through bad luck, addictions of some kind or other, or both. LeMieuxcaptures the surprisingly tight-knit society of the homeless in the Washington town where he lives. Just like in any other social group there are generous souls, losers, fixers, children and the very old, exploiters and helpers. If you stick with the descriptions and skip the (not many) pages of haranguing the book works very well.

It’s clear that a rich society should be able to help the downtrodden more effectively. The book describes many homeless people who can, and sometimes do hold down jobs and would need just a small push to live in decent conditions. Why are they shoved on a two-year waiting list (with young kids too)? The problem is more complicated for the many who are unable to work but surely we could and should provide decent housing for the working poor, especially since it seems that a modest amount of help for the deposit would solve many problems.

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