“This calm, quiet force of a narrative revolves around a homeless young woman who witnesses a murder. Her fear and vulnerability are palpable, yet the book never falls into the tropes of hopelessness or self-pity. For this alone, it is worth the read.
Maddy and her small community of chosen friends look out for one another at the edge of Golden Gate Park. They live life on their terms, spending most of their days in the Haight/Ashbury neighborhood of San Francisco avoiding the police, gangs, and false-saviors that could tip their precarious lives over the edge. That is, until Maddy is drawn into the murder investigation as both witness and grief arbiter for the victim’s parents.
Now, her survival depends on an ever-expanding web of people and decisions outside of the people she trusts and the world she has created for herself.”
The 10th Winner of the 2019 PEN/Bellwether Prize for Socially Engaged Fiction, Awarded by Barbara Kingsolver
“What a read this is, right from its startling opening scene. But even more than plot, it’s the richly layered details that drive home a lightning bolt of empathy. To read At the Edge of the Haight is to live inside the everyday terror and longings of a world that most of us manage not to see, even if we walk past it on sidewalks every day. At a time when more Americans than ever find themselves at the edge of homelessness, this book couldn’t be more timely.”
—Barbara Kingsolver, author of Unsheltered and The Poisonwood Bible
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?”