A Place Called Home: A Memoir


Book Description

As a child, David Ambroz was raised homeless in New York City, the home of Wall Street, and more than 100,000 homeless children. For David and his two siblings, their mother’s diagnosis of paranoid schizophrenia sets them in motion for a life of poverty, violence, and instability as they travel across New York and New England seeking shelter. For eleven years home for David means living in train stations, subway cars, 24-hour diners, and wherever is safe and warm; bathing in public restrooms; and stealing food to quell his hunger. When he gets into foster care, it feels like salvation, but it soon proves to be just as unsafe for young people—more of his foster siblings are put on a prison pipeline than college-bound.

Surmounting violence, continued poverty, and physical and emotional abuse at the hands of his caregivers, David harnesses an inner grit to escape the inevitable outcome for kids like him. He takes shelter and finds hope on his own in libraries, schools, and in the occasional adult angel. Through hard work and unwavering resolve, he is able to get into Vassar College, the first significant step out from the yoke of poverty, and later graduates from UCLA School of Law.

This heart-wrenching and inspiring story about young people pulls back the curtain on homelessness and poverty in the lives of children and shines a pivotal light on generations of kids who have been systematically ignored and overlooked. A Place Called Home is both David’s powerful personal account through the lens of a child surviving it daily. As the go-to child welfare advocate for the Obama administration and major U.S. companies, A Place Called Home is a beckoning call to our national conscience to move from pity to action.

(2022, hardcover, 384 pages)

Staff Member Review

I learned about David Ambroz’s memoir during a panel discussion presented by the Human Rights Campaign All Children All Families campaign and moderated by Ambroz himself. The panel focused on the needs of LGBTQIA+ youth in the child welfare system. Ambroz spent several years in foster care, and I was eager to read more about his experience and perspectives.

A PLACE CALLED HOME is a deeply emotional and moving reading experience. David and his brother and sister spent years living on the streets and in poverty. Hunger, fear, and uncertainty are constant companions. The youngest of the siblings, David was a self-appointed mediator, doing whatever he could to keep the family together and his mentally ill mother stable. Until he reached an impossible breaking point and entered foster care.

David hopes foster care will be his salvation, but things don’t exactly work out that way. His story is a mix of tragedy and triumph and spurs him on to advocacy with the National Foster Youth Advisory Council. There are moments of deep heartbreak, and yet his spirit to never give up and to succeed is palpable on every page, giving A PLACE CALLED HOME an undeniable feeling of hope.‌

Note: The book does include descriptions of child abuse, sexual violence, and sexual activity.

Author: David Ambroz
ISBN: 9780306903540
Count: 1
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