Hello! I’m very excited for today’s post, which is my stop on the blog tour for At the Edge of the Haight, by Katherine Seligman, which releases tomorrow! I have a lot to say on the book, so I’m going to get straight into the review.
At the Edge of the Haight
Author: Katherine Seligman
Publisher: Algonquin Books
Release Date: January 19th 2020
Genre: Adult fiction, contemporary, mystery
Maddy Donaldo, homeless at twenty, has made a family of sorts in the dangerous spaces of San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park. She knows whom to trust, where to eat, when to move locations, and how to take care of her dog. It’s the only home she has. When she unwittingly witnesses the murder of a young homeless boy and is seen by the perpetrator, her relatively stable life is upended. Suddenly, everyone from the police to the dead boys’ parents want to talk to Maddy about what she saw. As adults pressure her to give up her secrets and reunite with her own family before she meets a similar fate, Maddy must decide whether she wants to stay lost or be found. Against the backdrop of a radically changing San Francisco, a city which embraces a booming tech economy while struggling to maintain its culture of tolerance, At the Edge of the Haight follows the lives of those who depend on makeshift homes and communities.
As judge Hillary Jordan says, “This book pulled me deep into a world I knew little about, bringing the struggles of its young, homeless inhabitants–the kind of people we avoid eye contact with on the street–to vivid, poignant life. The novel demands that you take a close look. If you knew, could you still ignore, fear, or condemn them? And knowing, how can you ever forget?”
I received a digital advance copy of this book from the publisher, Algonquin books, in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion and my review.
At the Edge of the Haight is a fascinating book. It’s very different from what I usually read, but I really enjoyed it.
What I loved the most in the book was the writing. Katherine Seligman uniquely brings to life the characters and tells the story in a concise yet descriptive way. There is nothing extra in the writing, nothing non-essential to the text. At the same time, the story itself is not difficult to understand, and the book pulls you through.
I was never bored reading this book, and it always kept my full attention. The book is about 20 year old Maddy, who is homeless and living in San Fransisco. One day, she comes across a boy who has been murdered and is there for the last moments of his life. Throughout the book, we get to know her friends who she lives with, and she ends up getting to know and spending time with Dave and Marva, the parents of the boy who was killed.
Maddy was a really interesting protagonist, and her story was very well thought out and developed. I loved reading about her past, and how we learned bits and pieces of her backstory, little by little throughout the book.
I thought that the author did a wonderful job creating a cast of characters who were all unique, and giving them life. Ash, Fleet, Hope, and Maddy were a great bunch, and Dave and Marva were very interesting as well.
I did want to know more about Dave and Marva though. They seemed to me as the characters with the least amount of information, with the least amount of depth, especially Marva, who didn’t play as big a role in the story.
I definitely think that reading the book gave me more insight into what it would be like to be homeless and the book really sheds light on the struggles of homeless people that aren’t often thought about. Whenever you see someone on the streets, your first thought might not necesarily be of their family or friends, but this book really dug into different scenarios, and what might be happening with someone’s personal life.
Katherine Seligman is a journalist and author in San Francisco. As a reporter, she’s focused on social issues, from homelessness, mental health and end of life issues to the city’s boom and bust cycles. But she’s also written about everything else, from self-appointed graffiti curators, urban coyotes and embryonic sex selection to what her kids learned growing up in Haight Ashbury.
She has been a staff writer at the San Francisco Chronicle Magazine and a reporter for the San Francisco Examiner and USA Today. Her stories have appeared in Redbook, Life, Time, California Magazine, PBS Next Avenue, CALmatters, Al Jazeera America, and the anthology “Fresh Takes.”
I think that At the Edge of the Haight is a very important book, and one that I recommend reading if this seems like a book you could enjoy.
Overall, it’s an interesting book, with incredible writing, great characters, and a compelling plot.
Do I recommend it? Yes