Hi, Book Scan readers. I spent the first part of last week hanging out with community planners at the American Planning Association’s national conference. Though I haven’t read the book described below, I thought the author (who gave the closing keynote at the conference) had some beautiful thoughts on home ownership that real estate professionals would appreciate. Enjoy! —MW
Early Pearl has a great idea for dealing with an intractable problem. As a homeless 11-year old Chicagoan, she sees all of the sturdy housing stock that stands empty and abandoned in her south side neighborhood and decides to take action.
She gets some friends together and, with a few cameras, they snap pictures of these empty houses. They send the pictures—along with their imaginings of how the structures could be transformed into dream homes for kids without anywhere to live—to community leaders in an effort to spark a change in their unfortunate circumstances.
Early is only a character in Blue Balliett’s newest mystery novel, Hold Fast (Scholastic Press, 2013). But there are more than 30,000 kids in Chicago alone who are homeless just like she is, and some 16,000 vacant properties like the ones that Early dreams of inhabiting.
“Kids will easily share their dreams about a home,” Balliett said in her keynote speech at the American Planning Association’s national conference last week. “They never make small plans.”
Balliett, a bestselling author of young adult literature, told planners that she came up with the idea for Hold Fast during the housing downturn, when she noticed a dearth of news stories about the effect foreclosures were having on her target audience.
“The children were invisible,” she said. “I kept wondering about the kids: Who are they and what does it feel like to grow up without a front door?” Continue reading »
Back when her life ran smack into the foreclosure crisis, Stephanie Alison Walker started blogging. It didn’t stop offers from evaporating or credit scores from plummeting. It didn’t keep her and her husband out of bankruptcy court. But it did turn out to be a great little love story.
Walker strung together her blog entries and created a book called Love in the Time of Foreclosure. You ride with her and her husband, Bob, down the rocky path that millions have traveled since the start of the housing crisis. Originally they had put 20% down on a 30-year, fixed-interest loan, with the income to back it up. Then, Bob lost his job and their dream house wasn’t too far behind.
Here at the Book Scan blog, we’ve covered the real estate + romance novel mashup. But Walker’s story isn’t about poofy blouses or forbidden trysts. This memoir is about how to keep a marriage together and romance alive under one of the most stressful situations a couple can go through together. And this isn’t about the perfect couple that can handle any of life’s problems, either. Stephanie and Bob have almost broken up before. What’s to say the end of homeownership might not also be the end of their union? Continue reading »
Buying a house, moving, home improvement… these are all things that can be funny, heartwarming and entertaining. It’s just that when you’re surrounded on all sides by boxes, closing documents and plaster, it’s hard to be coherent, much less endearingly hilarious.
Author Matthew Batt does not have this problem in his debut memoir, Sugarhouse: Turning the Neighborhood Crack House Into Our Home Sweet Home (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2012, $14.95 US). His story of finding, purchasing and fixing the sort-of, maybe-someday perfect house in Salt Lake City with his wife is one of my must-reads for the summer.
Batt travels the roads you’ve seen so many new home owners go down. He manages to tumble through the common roadblocks with a healthy sense of humor and the entertaining vocabulary to back it up. He waxes poetic on the importance of countertops, the meaning behind carpeting, and the sheer weirdness of househunting. Continue reading »