For the past three decades, Dr. O'Connell has run the Boston Healthcare for the Homeless Program, which he helped to create. In this book we travel with O'Connell as he navigates the city, offering medical care, socks, soup, empathy, humor, and friendship to some of the city's most endangered citizens.
O'Connell is a fascinating protagonist ... The picture that emerges over the course of the absorbing, inspiring Rough Sleepers is that O'Connell is not only one of the good guys but a good guy who is vigorous, self-critical and even funny ... Kidder describes with modesty and compassion.
Tracy Kidder, a master of narrative nonfiction, is drawn to self-effacing, unsung heroes who work tirelessly to make the world a better place. Kidder delves deeply into his subjects, deftly weaving the fruits of his research into a strong narrative line that keeps readers turning pages. He doesn’t hide his admiration for his subjects ... Rough Sleepers is yet another enlightening reminder from Kidder that we should, and can, do better.
Excellent ... As Kidder relays the stories of the women and men whom O’Connell and his colleagues serve, Rough Sleepers becomes a detailed portrait of the lives of homeless Americans. We hear about their backstories, their struggles, their hopes for the future. We come to understand their decisions to avoid shelters and the factors that conspire to deny them apartments of their own ... Kidder, to his credit, never gives short shrift to the larger context. He just asks us — correctly, I think — to consider that in a world of far too much cruelty, the compassionate person standing at the bottom of the cliff is part of the story too.