Even as the nation celebrates the triumph of gay marriage rights, inequalities continue, particularly for LGBTQ youth, overwhelmingly minorities, who are part of the foster care system. Berg was a caseworker in a New York group home for young people in foster care ... Through their compelling stories, Berg looks at inequalities suffered by LGBTQ youth in housing, public safety, health care, prison, immigration, employment, poverty, and homelessness.
No House excels when it provides the verbatim stories of the queer youth— unpacking the tragic and painful actualities of their lives and describing how they have become so hardened to the grimness of life ... Though he sometimes falters in his storytelling, Berg’s quest to give voice to queer youth of color is a noble one. No House seeks to make visible, the invisible and because of this is an important and revelatory read.
No House to Call My Home is a sobering look at the lives of a variety of LGBT kids in a version of foster care. They do not live with families but in group homes. The challenges they face may seem foreign to many readers. In fact, this is a difficult book to read ... The reader feels the emotional roller coaster that Berg experienced in his short career. At times it feels like wading through molasses; the daily grind sucking life, energy, and interest out of you. Readers will not 'like' this book. But it is an important book to read. This book makes the reader think about many issues: foster care, the kids enmeshed in the system, homophobia, parents who hate their children because of who they are, racism, and abject poverty ... It’s hard to identify with the young people Berg talks about; at the same time it is impossible not to feel an affinity for their pain and their despair. That’s what makes this book easy to put down but impossible to ignore.
No House to Call My Home illustrates the stories of several youths, combined with Berg’s own reflections about how he managed the day-to-day struggles of helping the youths toward a brighter future ... Students and new social workers will identify with Berg’s uncertainties and challenges in reaching the youth of Keap Street. Students and new social workers are often managing changes in their own lives. Berg’s abilities to self-reflect and to fully engage in supervision can be a model for many of these students and social workers. And while students and new social workers, like Berg, may struggle in working with youth and others because they do not always see the positive results of their work, they will learn through No House to Call My Home the importance of listening to the stories of LGBTQ youth, despite the youth’s readiness for change. In all, students and new social workers will find Berg’s work to help in understanding how we both succeed and fail at meeting the needs of LGBTQ youth.
I first encountered Ryan Berg’s writing as a jurist for a fellowship a few years back. Ryan’s submission blew me away. It was an excerpt from his just-published debut, No House to Call My Home: Love, Family, and Other Transgressions, which details the lives of queer youths of color with whom he worked as a caseworker in a group home. Here was a work both political and narrative, compassionate and scrutinizing—I am always looking for such books ... I already believed that narrative was a more accessible and powerful tool than rhetoric, and books like LeBlanc’s and Berg’s further proved this. In that 20-page sample I recognized what I have since read in the entirety of NHTCMH: the stories of queer homeless youths of color told with humility, self-scrutiny, intelligence, and love. It is a brave and conscientious book, an important book.
There aren’t many surprises in the narrative; indeed, there are turns that have by now become cliché, from the disaffected, alcoholic grown-up who is himself saved by trying to save at-risk young people to the crack-addicted but heart-of-gold sex worker. Still, some of Berg’s portraits are arresting ... Packed full of case studies that are unpleasant from start to finish—all group homes and ransacked lockers, beatings and diseases—Berg’s narrative moves from the clinical to Barbara Ehrenreich–style journalism as it progresses ... Particularly important for caseworkers and social service specialists, who, by Berg’s account, are likely to encounter more young people in the LGBTQ population in the near future.