His life was barely worth a dollar. He slept outside, on park benches, in stairwells, under bushes. Michael Gaulden lived in shelter after shelter across the United States. With his father incarcerated and mother disabled, he stayed homeless for ten years.
From the age of seven to seventeen, Michael, with his mother and sister, journeyed along his own underground railroad, desperately searching for a way to free his family from the sewers of society.
Michael learned death was a big part of youth homelessness. Education was not. To survive, he had to become something more. Caught in between two worlds– his dreams vs. his reality– violence, gangsters, hunger, poverty, and sorrow marked his daily life.
Michael vowed to change his fate through getting his high school diploma. He never hoped to dream that not only would he graduate from high school but also from a prestigious California university.
“The truth is hard to read and ever harder to see.”
“I believed I could become more than what their statistics believed I could. I also knew, outside of my mom and sister, no one else believed I could beat the statistics. But there comes a time where you have to follow your heart, where you have to make your own decisions to better yourself, even if everyone else calls you crazy.”
There were so many significant passages in this book I could have included as this was and is a very important book to read. The subject matter of homelessness is one which hard for people to hear or see, but Michael’s story is one that needs to be shared.
So much of Michael’s life reminded me about cultural and societal “gaze”. How people are seen not only by those outside of themselves, but how they view their own self. Growing up homeless created a societal gaze (or lack there of) Michael had to break, which juxtaposed against his own views of how he saw himself.
I think My Way Home is a book everyone should read because it is difficult. Michael’s story is heartbreaking, but it is a reality no one wants to see. Homelessness is a state of existence and those who find themselves within it are just as human and deserve to be seen/heard/understood and helped.
Sometimes hearts have to break in order for any real or significant healing to begin. Please read Michael’s story. Let your heart-break along with mine and let Michael’s strength, courage and drive show us how to put the pieces back together and aid in figuring out a way to see what is happening around the world to those who find themselves without a home.
I heart My Way Home this much: ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥.5
Learn more about Michael from the book sheet info below provided by his publisher Wido Publishing
Mr. Michael Gaulden received his Bachelors of Arts from the University of California, Los Angeles. He is a former qualitative and quantitative researcher for UCLA’s Black Male Institute, a research institution whose goal is to conduct reliable research, practical interventions, and effective programs that enrich the educational experiences and life chances of minority males in the United States. Mr. Gaulden is the former Director of Business and Community Relations for Reality Changers, a college prep organization with a focus on building first generation college students. He is experienced in business development, communications, and community relations. He is currently the Career Exploration Coordinator and Internship Coordinator for the Monarch School Project. Monarch is the only operational school in the United States that exclusively educates K-12 students who are impacted by homelessness. Michael also attended the school in his youth. He is an active Homeless activist, education enthusiast, musician as well as an activist for all disadvantaged people. As a motivational public speaker, he has spoken to audiences ranging from 20-2000. He is a Spoken Word artist and advocate for the arts. He recently started a video project entitled “Homelessness Through the Eyes of Michael Gaulden” in order to shift the negative perception and connotation around homelessness and the people it impacts. As an author, Mr. Gaulden is the debut author of “My Way Home” a memoir that chronicles growing up homeless for ten years in the inner-city
You can find out more about Michael and buy his novel here.
***Copy received from publisher in exchange for an honest review***