If You See Them is a fantastic book by Vicki Sokolik that helps one not only 'see' those who are trying to hide, but also how to realistically help them overcome their daily obstacles in life holding them back and actually succeed. Vicki starts the book off with gaining an understanding that there are teenagers who were invisible to society, and they were trying everything they could with all that they had to move toward their dreams, but the realistic understanding of the obstacles in their way created a system that didn't help them succeed, but instead became part of the reason why they struggled even more. Filled with how she began to try to help those who needed it, first hand accounts of the youth who went through her SRN program, and the legal obstacles they have overcome, and still have yet to overcome paints a picture of awareness that I personally just didn't know existed. Fantastic job and I hope this spreads so that no child is left unseen. Thank you Vicki for your heart and hard work at exposing this for us all.
*I received a copy of this book from NetGalley. This review is my own opinion*
What an eye opening read this was. My thoughts in the video below.
🏠 REVIEW 🏠
If You See Them by Vicki Sokolik
Publishes: 13th February 2024
📝 - Vicki had two teenage children of her own when she first became aware of unaccompanied youth, a term to describe minors living away from their families, but not part of the foster care system. As she started to meet more high school students in precarious living situations, sofa surfing, sleeping in parks or cars or with unstable/ab*dive family members, she started Starting Right, Now (SRN), a charity giving direct help to these minors to help them overcome their trauma, and equip them with skills to succeed.
💭 - On the whole, I learnt quite a bit from this book. While I’m not based in the USA, I’m sure the situation in the UK is similar, and something I had never heard about, assuming that all children not with parents were funnelled into foster care somehow. Sokolik outlined the process of building her foundation for these children, going into details of some of their stories, each finding themselves needing SRN differently, though all with a similarly traumatic upbringing. However, I don’t think this book completely hit its mark. Sokolik spends a long time talking about herself, her upbringing (an extremely privileged one which, while she does acknowledge, feels unnecessary), and her family. Also, while the accounts of each child’s story were informative, there didn’t seem to be much of a purpose towards the end, beyond awareness. Overall, am interesting read, but didn’t quite meet my expectations.
#nonfiction #ifyouseethem #sociology #culture #politics #netgalley #2024 #2024release
Vicki Sokolik delivered turkey dinners to needy families annually, but her philanthropy expanded exponentially when one of her children introduced her to an unhoused high school student in their Florida neighborhood. Encouraged by the mayor, Sokolik founded Starting Right, Now (“SRN”) a nonprofit that seeks to end generational homelessness by focusing on the high school student in the family. The goal of SRN is to get homeless youth through high school and into higher education, the military, or vocational training.
By introducing the reader to various young people whom SRN has assisted through the tireless activism of its leadership, Sokolik illustrates the destruction wrought by the “patchwork lives” in which these young people exist, “bouncing from one imperfect and unstable situation to another” without the guidance of constructive adults, support structures, financial resources or advocates. She explains how homeless kids engage in delinquent acts — stealing, dealing drugs, engaging in sex work — to survive, but the legal system ignores the root of the problem, and only considers the crime, compounding the crisis of homelessness when a juvenile record threatens employment. She explores the byzantine structures that make it difficult for even seasoned professionals to procure available aid. Medicaid benefits, for example, are not available for unaccompanied homeless youth who are independent of their families unless they have babies or become disabled and these young adults often lack a social security card necessary to secure a job, but to obtain a replacement, the government requires a birth certificate and these kids often lack access to their records.
Sokolik has crafted an inspiring and moving memoir and has designed a program that should be replicated in other communities. Thank you Spiegel & Grau and Net Galley for providing me with an advanced copy of this memoir that enlightened me regarding the issue of unhoused students who are not living with a parent or guardian and are not in the foster system.
I received this book in exchange for a honest review from NetGalley.
I loved this book. I think it is a great insight for those of us privileged enough not to be unhoused minors at anytime in our lives. It looks into the lives of these teens and shows that many times their actions are born out of desperation and trauma and in the long run all they want is security and kindness (even if they may deny it at first) I also think that this book will be very helpful for me as a Teen Librarian in identifying and helping those teens in my library who my be struggling with homelessness. Overall very insightful book.
this was unique view and I haven't ready any books related to this topic so far. I appreciated the insight and enjoyed it
I really enjoyed this one. If You See Them is heartbreaking, educational, infuriating, hopeful, and deeply human. As someone that has fairly frequent interactions with unhoused individuals, this is a must read for teachers, med students, first responders, mental health professionals, and anyone else trying to learn and be more compassionate towards this demographic.
Thank you to the publisher and NetGalley for this ARC!
I wasn't sure what I thought of this very privileged lady at first--she seemed very bossy and didn't seem to understand the forces affecting the lives of the kids she was wanting to help. But I was just really drawn into the story of her own family, her daughter that had a seizure disorder, and her growing understanding of the teens and young adults she was helping--kids who had left home, were homeless, but were not in the foster care system. She started a nonprofit and began helping kids, needing to fight bureaucracy and regulations that were not set up for the kids she needed to help. I ended up being very impressed by both the author, her organization, and the kids who told their stories. This evolved into the good kind of help, the kind that respects the people being helped and offers them needed care and services with love. Very good book.
This book is a really great non fiction book that speaks about a specific unspoken and not highly visible population.
It’s difficult to find any faults in this advanced copy. In fact, it’s hard not to be swept up by the stories and lives that are recorded in these pages. You feel compelled to take a pause, go to Google, and become active in your own community to help those in need. It makes you think back to see if any of your classmates, friends, or acquaintances fell into this group of invisible, high risk population of kids needing assistance of reaching their fullest potential and in having a safe environment in doing so. My heart wept and I rooted for each person that Vicki Skokie and SRN met.
There are maybe two things that left me a little wanting:
The story of her parents and where they are now
The editing felt a little choppy
Overall, I would highly recommend this book to all, especially to fiction readers looking to get into non fiction. I very appreciative to NetGalley and Spiegel & Grau for allowing me to read this amazing telling of hardship and hope. 5 out of 5.
Posted on Goodreads, Instagram and Storygraph.
Vicki Sokolik is a remarkable woman. Her book, If You See Them, describes her work with homeless teens who are often invisible to the public. These young people are usually coming from an abusive home and have been abandoned by their dysfunctional family. In an effort to avoid foster care they attempt to live unnoticed. Unfortunately they are often angry, distrustful, and difficult to help.
The author has dedicated her life to these teens. Her true life stories of the youth she works with was eye opening and very moving. The impact she and her organization has made is wonderful. What struck me the most was her unbelievable patience and perseverance in dealing with each individual teen. I thoroughly enjoyed this book and I am now much more aware of the issue of homeless teens .
Sadly If You See Them is a DNF for me.
I can appreciate the help that Start Right, Now has done for homeless citizens in certain areas of Florida, but Sokolik's book spoke with a lot of tones of white savior energy. As I read the first quarter of the book, I could see a lot of the privilege of Sokolik and her family seeping through the pages and Sokolik didn't seem to know how to to reel it back. I'm not here for a book about a white savior. That just isn't the book I'm looking for and that's what this book seemed to primarily be in the first 25%. It may change by the end, but I'd had enough for my personal taste.
Thank you to the published & author for the ARC — I am providing an honest review on my own accord.
While I appreciate what the author has done with her nonprofit organization to assist unhoused youth in Florida, this felt a lot like a book that promotes white saviorism and it felt condescending and patronizing at times. I agree that we should extend more grace, compassion, and participate in community care when we notice a potential unhoused kid, but the author comes from an incredibly privileged background, so I do think the wealthy need to step up, just like Vicki has done.
I absolutely think we need more advocates for unhoused youth especially in America, and who better than someone well-connected and who has the financial resources to do so? I get that. However, I think I would have rather read a compilation of narratives from the unhoused folks themselves, rather than having so much of the focus be on the author’s perspective.
If this is your very first venture into learning about unhoused folks in America, I say go for it. It’s informative, you do get to hear from a handful of unhoused kids who are part of the author’s program, and hopefully it will inspire you to do something about this crisis in your local community. If you are already pretty well versed on the topic though, I’d say you could probably skip this.
An important book about young homeleness in the US. The tone of the book wasn't my cup of tea, it sounded quite patronising for me. Nevertheless, still an important topic to read about.
Vicki Sokolik is a gifted storyteller and relentless advocate for a vulnerable sub-section of homeless, called "unaccompanied homeless youth." The legislation her organization Starting Right, Now (SRN) is responsible for in Florida is brilliant, and the kids she highlights here are heartbreaking and inspiring. I love that she also shares about her own family's struggles, financial and medical.
Checking state by state unhoused youth statistics, I was expecting Florida to be a leader but it's actually listed 6th, while my own state of California leads. A book like this is such a treasure, entertaining, challenging and illuminating all at once.
Please check out SRN's website here https://startingrightnow.org/
As a voracious (at least trying to be) reader, I am always excited to learn about new things. There have been a fair number of books about and by people below poverty line, foster youth, etc that I'm familiar with but this concept of an unaccompanied youth that fall and yet don't fall into any of these demographics was entirely foreign to me, This book has a healthy amount of human touch aka individual stories of youths helped by the nonprofit the author created and a healthy amount of general and legal education about this hidden population. My only negative feedback is it would have been interesting to hear more about the kids that the program couldn't help. It would have felt slightly more real that way. But either way, still a really interesting read.
An important book that delves into a very serious issue. The stories in here demonstrate how society too often fails its most vulnerable people and how they can help.
WOW! What an inspirational read! This book opened my eyes to the epidemic of unhoused youths in our country and it broke my heart. It made me want to start a similar non-profit in Indianapolis! Hearing directly from some of the youths that Vicki and her organization so greatly impact, as well as Vicki's own story over the years - so compelling! This book will be with me for a long time, and I am hoping it spurs me on to concrete action that will make a difference in our world.
I have no words for this other than wow! Working in a hospital setting we come into contact with homeless personnel all the time. This book has pilled my eyes & really made me think just how the rest of the world is and works aside from my bubble. I loved the insight and message.
What a complete honor to read this book!
Every social worker, teacher, medical professional anyone who would come in contact with homeless youth needs to read this book !
What an amazing author to have such a struggle in her child’s health and be involved with helping so many kids not her own. The SRN kid’s stories will forever stay with me as well as the compassionate honesty of the author. Vicki really truly understands what these kids go through in the difficulty to trust and break the old memory tapes when adapting to the SRN program.
Amanda, Shaq, Courtney and everyone else who wrote their stories to co author this book thank you .
Thank you to Cori for her bravery and sharing her story .
This is the human experience it can give us challenges in many ways and forms .
Vicki you are a rock star !!!
So strange to feel “ sorry “ for these kids and forgetting that I was once one myself .
My ACE score was higher than I would have guessed.
Thank you NetGalley for a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review .
This book has so much good and helpful information that so many people need to know. I spent time in college working in a youth homeless shelter, but I learned so much more about homeless youth in America through this book.
My only complaint was that I felt like a lot of the information about the authors personal life didn’t really add to the point of the book. Some of it to understand her perspective was fine but I felt like a lot of it could have been left out of this book.
Overall an important book!