Home Girl: Building a Dream House on a Lawless Block (Google eBook)

Front Cover
Random House Publishing Group, Jun 24, 2008 - Biography & Autobiography
60 Reviews
After twenty years as a foreign correspondent in tumultuous locales including Rwanda, Chechnya, and Sudan, Judith Matloff is ready to put down roots and start a family. She leaves Moscow and returns to her native New York City to house-hunt for the perfect spot while her Dutch husband, John, stays behind in Russia with their dog to pack up their belongings. Intoxicated by West Harlem’s cultural diversity and, more important, its affordability, Judith impulsively buys a stately fixer-upper brownstone in the neighborhood.

Little does she know what’s in store. Judith and John discover that their dream house was once a crack den and that “fixer upper” is an understatement. The building is a total wreck: The beams have been chewed to dust by termites, the staircase is separating from the wall, and the windows are smashed thanks to a recent break-in. Plus, the house–crowded with throngs of brazen drug dealers–forms the bustling epicenter of the cocaine trade in the Northeast, and heavily armed police regularly appear outside their door in pursuit of the thugs and crackheads who loiter there.

Thus begins Judith and John’s odyssey to win over the neighbors, including Salami, the menacing addict who threatens to take over their house; MacKenzie, the literary homeless man who quotes Latin over morning coffee; Mrs. LaDuke, the salty octogenarian and neighborhood watchdog; and Miguel, the smooth lieutenant of the local drug crew, with whom the couple must negotiate safe passage. It’s a far cry from utopia, but it’s a start, and they do all they can to carve out a comfortable life. And by the time they experience the birth of a son, Judith and John have even come to appreciate the neighborhood’s rough charms.

Blending her finely honed reporter’s instincts with superb storytelling, Judith Matloff has crafted a wry, reflective, and hugely entertaining memoir about community, home, and real estate. Home Girl is for anyone who has ever longed to go home, however complicated the journey.

Advance Praise for Home Girl

“Although I always suspected that renovating a house in New York City would be a slightly more harrowing undertaking than dodging bullets as a foreign correspondent, it took this charming story to convince me it could also be more entertaining. Except for the plumbing. That’s one adventure I couldn't survive.”
–Michelle Slatalla, author of The Town on Beaver Creek

“After years of covering wars overseas, Judith Matloff takes her boundless courage and inimitable style to the front lines of America’s biggest city. From her vantage point in a former crack house in West Harlem, she brings life to a proud community held hostage by drug dealers and forgotten by policy makers. Matloff’s sense of humor, clear reportage, and zest for adventure never fail. Home Girl is part gritty confessional, part love story, and totally delightful.”
–Bob Drogin, author of Curveball

“Here the American dream of home ownership takes on the epic dimensions of the modern pioneer in a drug-riddled land. Matloff’s story, which had me crying and laughing, is a portrait of a household and a community, extending far beyond the specifics of West Harlem to the universal–as all well-told stories do.”
–Martha McPhee, author of L’America


From the Hardcover edition.
  

What people are saying - Write a review

User ratings

5 stars
11
4 stars
29
3 stars
14
2 stars
4
1 star
2

Review: Home Girl: Building a Dream House on a Lawless Block

User Review  - Nicole Brickley - Goodreads

Matloff is obviously a journalist. The best part of the book was the presentation of the facts. The storytelling, however, felt forced and unnatural. A writer shouldn't substitute simple nouns and ... Read full review

Review: Home Girl: Building a Dream House on a Lawless Block

User Review  - AJ - Goodreads

This book was pretty decent, and an uplifting story of neighborhood family and renaissance. It almost makes me want to be a home owner again... NOT. Though, not because this book doesn't make it seem ... Read full review

Contents

Chapterz The Decision I
11
OnyCod Can Protect Us I 36
51
Chapter9 Peace Talks I
72
Chaplerro Homeland lnsccu1it_y I 89
100
Quis Custodietlpsos Custodes? I
132
C?1apter16 Ways to IillaCat I
154
The Men from Montenegro I
165
Chapter18 CharmingApartme11t with Doorman I
180
Chapterzr LatteArrives I
215
Chapterzz SnortingAnthrax I
226
PART THREE
240
Ch4apter24 ASonof the Calle I
259
Chapter25 Lights Out I
269
237
277
Acknowledgments I
284
Copyright

Chapterrg State of Emergency I
192

Common terms and phrases

About the author (2008)

Judith Matloff is a contributing editor of the Columbia Journalism Review and teaches at Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism. She was a foreign correspondent for twenty years, lastly as the bureau chief of The Christian Science Monitor in Africa and Moscow. Her stories have appeared in numerous publications, including The New York Times, The Economist, Newsweek, and The Dallas Morning News, and she is the recipient of a MacArthur Foundation grant, a Fulbright fellowship, and the Godsell, the Monitor’s highest accolade for correspondence. Matloff still lives in West Harlem with her husband and son.
www.judithmatloff.com


From the Hardcover edition.

Bibliographic information