... though it is certainly inspirational, Stewart doesn’t shy away from the harsh and often invisible realities of homelessness. The girls go from the highs of TV appearances and free gifts to the lows of carrying their belongings in garbage bags. Readers will be moved by the resilience of Giselle, Hailey, Katrina, and all of the girls and women who come alive on the page.
I do not mean in any way to diminish Stewart’s impressive journalistic skills when I wonder if this book would have existed without the boldface-name buzz that Troop 6000 received. Indeed, the publisher has packaged this book as a feel-good yarn, complete with a hyperbolic subtitle about how the homeless girls 'inspired the world' ... To her great credit, Stewart has too much integrity and clarity to go along with the fairy-tale version of Troop 6000’s experience. She problematizes the myth, relentlessly returning to the debilitating chaos of homelessness itself ... Yet Stewart also has to struggle with the result of her own article. Troop 6000 was only several months into existence at that point. What would have been the more normal, gradual and genuine effort to build and maintain a Girl Scout troop in extremis was overwhelmed by its instant vogue. Any journalist or author who practices immersion reporting has to worry about the effect of his, her, or their presence on the subjects and events being observed. But in my decades of experience, I have never encountered a more nettlesome example than Troop 6000 ... [Stewart] dutifully describes the Cinderella episodes the girls and parents of Troop 6000 enjoy, but she refuses to avert her eyes from their precarious lives ... How does one accurately depict incessant disorder without the writing itself turning disorderly? Stewart has not solved that problem. She splinters her book into 26 chapters and each chapter into multiple scenes; she flits from character to character, event to event, often failing to build depth or sustain narrative drive. One unintended result is that, in a book illuminating the life-changing power of scouting, none of the girls in Troop 6000 wind up being nearly as memorable for a reader as Giselle Burgess and several other adults.
Effective as a feel-good account of family and community working against adversity and the benefits of Scouting for girls and their parents, the book is equally valuable for its intimate views of homelessness and its day-to-day effects.