* A world-renowned cosmopolitan center, Harvard Square in Cambridge, Massachusetts, is a gathering place for "the least of these." Frame steps outside the university walls to introduce you to his homeless friends---Neal, Dane, George, and Chubby John. Read their insights on life, God, and more, and you'll discover they aren't very different from the rest of us! 176 pages, softcover from Zondervan.
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Customer Reviews for Homeless at Harvard: Finding Faith and Friendship on the Streets of Harvard Square
Review 1 for Homeless at Harvard: Finding Faith and Friendship on the Streets of Harvard Square
Outside looking in even while living on the street
"Homeless at Harvard" is a memoir about a young man who lived among the homeless community at Harvard Square to better understand homelessness. He was taking a summer course at Harvard and had access to campus facilities, but he spent his free time on the streets and he slept on the streets. Much of the book was about his experiences on the street and about his childhood, but he also shared the stories of some of his homeless friends and included some of their thoughts "in their own words."
The writing was somewhat disjointed, though usually it wasn't hard to follow. The author would start the chapter talking about an experience he had while on the street--like learning to beg for money--and then he'd jump to a story from his past or to some thoughts he had about how he wasn't really homeless even though he was sleeping on the streets. Then he'd finish the original story. He also sometimes contradicted himself or the homeless people would--like someone said the homeless aren't all addicts or mentally ill, yet a few chapters later someone said they were.
I don't feel like I gained insight into why people are homeless, but I did learn some things about homeless people. The homeless in Harvard Square only lacked for homes--not food, not medical care, not alcohol or drugs, not lottery tickets, not cell phones or grills or digital cameras. A few of those begging money even had homes! Many were addicts. Even those who didn't think they were mentally ill didn't have an accurate grasp of reality, though sometimes that appeared to be a product of their upbringing. They had a very works-oriented, confused view of God, and even the author didn't view God as sovereign (i.e. in control of everything).
The author's conclusion was that spending time with the homeless and treating them like people will do more good than giving them your pocket change. The book didn't really show that to be true, but it is clear that giving them money doesn't help. So spending time is worth a try.
I received this book as a review copy from the publisher through Booksneeze.com.
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Review 2 for Homeless at Harvard: Finding Faith and Friendship on the Streets of Harvard Square
A Transforming Book!
Date:July 21, 2013
Dad of Divas
This was a powerful ethnographic study on what it means to be homeless in a city and community that is filled by intellectual pursuit. The book was a great read and so insightful. The author did a great job at becoming a part of the culture and really being able to get to know the people and what they have to share about life, and about spirituality. You learn so much about the homeless people, from their daily routines to tricks that they use to survive and so much more. I have always been interested in ethnographic inquiry and the author has done a great job in this, staying true to form and transporting the reader into the culture which is the true mark of a great ethnographer (in my perspective)! You will be amazed and changed by what you learn here!