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Formats
Ebook Details
  • 12/2022
  • 978-0-9862266-7-0 B0BQ5FG59C
  • 392 pages
  • $9.99
Audio Details
  • 06/2023
  • 978-0-9862266-8-7
  • 392 pages
  • $20.95
Paperback Book Details
  • 01/2023
  • 9780986226694 B0BQ5FG59C
  • 390 pages
  • $21.95
Violet Blue
Author, Editor (anthology)
A Fish Has No Word For Water: A punk homeless San Francisco memoir
Violet Blue, author
Her mother was a hacker-for-hire and drug dealer to Silicon Valley's elite; after everything went wrong she was homeless and alone on San Francisco streets at the age of thirteen. Fleeing her mother's life on the run from a double-crossed cartel and fresh out of witness protection, she joined Silicon Valley's children foraging food from San Francisco's trash cans and sleeping in abandoned cars -- while tech's earliest generations of workers partied, broke laws, and spat on homeless kids begging for spare change under the glow of tech's latest creations.
Plot/Idea: 9 out of 10
Originality: 10 out of 10
Prose: 10 out of 10
Character/Execution: 10 out of 10
Overall: 9.75 out of 10

Assessment:

Plot/Idea: Readers will be swept into the ebbs and tides of Blue’s life, including her tumultuous relationship with her mother and her spot-on portrayal of society’s marginalization of certain communities. Blue eschews common stereotypes, bringing warmth and life to those citizens who are vilified and relegated to an inferior status.

Prose: Blue writes with expertise and flair, and her polished style illustrates the stark differences between the homeless population of San Francisco and its posh neighborhoods oozing wealth. This is a nearly flawless memoir, written with grace and finesse. 

Originality: Blue’s skillful development of underlying themes gives the book notable depth, and she relays those themes through edge-of-your seat storytelling and a stellar sense of timing.

Character/Execution: Blue is unforgettable in her nimble treatment of a devastating lifestyle that is punctuated by beautiful moments, despite the harsh circumstances. Her personality flourishes, eclipsing the darkest moments in the memoir with a glimmer of hope that carries through to the end, and her purpose—to shed light on the resilience of disregarded populations—is unmistakable throughout. 

Date Submitted: October 06, 2023

Reviews
All that Violet Blue wants for herself is a clean place to stay, a hot meal, a high school education…and to get away from her mentally ill, abusive mother and the drug cartels she double crossed. That’s only part of the story. In the superb A Fish Has No Word For Water, her highly readable memoir, Blue plunges readers into a life that is both a freewheeling adventure tale and a clear-eyed survey of stories of human wreckage, as she recounts the challenges of survival on the streets of 1980s San Francisco, during the AIDs crisis. Throughout the book she contextualizes her story with illuminating examinations of city history and cultural politics, demonstrating the profound effects of both on hers and other lives on the margins, especially the young people with whom she found community.

A Fish Has No Word for Water is a memoir constantly in motion. As it opens we learn Violet Blue’s mother, a former engineer and hacker turned cocaine dealer, is an erstwhile member of the witness protection program. Violet comes home from school one day, at the age thirteen, and finds her Mother has skipped out. Now homeless, she falls in with a group of punks who help her learn the ways of the streets such as which restaurants will give you food, who to watch out for, and how to find a safe place to sleep. “You gotta decide your rules right away,” she is told by her new friend, Rogue, “and you can never, ever break them.”

There is a stark contrast between learning how to live on the streets and the beautiful Victorian mansions draped in the ever present fog. These contrasts are seen throughout (example: a Jewish Nazi skinhead) and drives home the point that nothing’s for certain and tomorrow is never promised. Sharp dialogue, incisive observations, and polished prose power the book: “Both neighborhoods were broken fables with people dying in the street,” she writes, of the Castro and the Haight.

Takeaway: Superb memoir of a punk’s life on the streets in 1980s San Francisco.

Comparable Titles: Aaron Cometbus’s Despite Everything: A Cometbus Omnibus, Janice Erlbaum’s Girlbomb: A Halfway Homeless Memoir.

Production grades
Cover: A-
Design and typography: A
Illustrations: N/A
Editing: A
Marketing copy: A

KIRKUS

"A gripping account of survival and a condemnation of the conditions that marginalize and endanger the unsheltered." —KIRKUS

Formats
Ebook Details
  • 12/2022
  • 978-0-9862266-7-0 B0BQ5FG59C
  • 392 pages
  • $9.99
Audio Details
  • 06/2023
  • 978-0-9862266-8-7
  • 392 pages
  • $20.95
Paperback Book Details
  • 01/2023
  • 9780986226694 B0BQ5FG59C
  • 390 pages
  • $21.95
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