Scratch Beginnings: Me, $25, and the Search for the American Dream

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Adam Shepard graduated from college in the summer of 2006 feeling disillusioned by the apathy he saw around him and incensed after reading Barbara Ehrenreich's famous works Nickel and Dimed and Bait and Switch—books that gave him a feeling of hopelessness over the state of the working class in America. Eager to see if he could make something out of nothing, he set out to prove wrong Ehrenreich's theory that those who start at the bottom stay at the bottom, and to see if the American Dream can still be a reality.

Shepard's plan was simple. Carrying only a sleeping bag, the clothes on his back, and $25 in cash, and restricted from using previous contacts or relying on his college education, he set out for a randomly selected city with one objective: work his way out of homelessness and into a life that would give him the opportunity for success. His goal was to have, after one year, $2,500, a working automobile, and a furnished apartment.

But from the start, things didn't go as smoothly as Shepard had planned. Working his way up from a Charleston, South Carolina homeless shelter proved to be more difficult than he anticipated, with pressure to take low-paying, exploitive jobs from labor companies, and a job market that didn't respond with enthusiasm to homeless applicants. Shepard even began donating plasma to make fast cash. To his surprise, he found himself depending most on fellow shelter residents for inspiration and advice.

Earnest, passionate, and hard to put down, Scratch Beginnings is a story that will not only inspire readers, but will also remind them that success can come to anyone who is willing to work hard—and that America is still one of the most hopeful and inspiring countries in the world.

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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble
In the summer of 2006, recent college graduate Adam Shepard decided to see if he could establish himself in a year, starting with nothing more than a sleeping bag, the clothes on his back, and $25 in his pocket. To validate this test case, Shepard ruled out using previous contacts or relying on his diploma. Not surprisingly, things didn't go as well as hoped; before long, Shepard was selling his blood for money. Eventually though, his perseverance achieved its just reward, thus providing us with a gritty memoir of hard-won success.
Library Journal

Recent college graduate Shepard is tired of hearing people complain about what they don't have. In this rebuttal to Barbara Ehrenreich's Nickel and Dimed and Bait and Switch, he sets off to see how far he can get by starting in Charleston, SC, with $25 and the clothes on his back. His goal is to finish 365 days later with a functioning car, a furnished apartment, and $2500 and be in a position to continue improving his circumstances. Along the way, he lives in a homeless shelter, befriends some interesting characters, and learns things the hard way. Shepard is wise to acknowledge the factors that play to his advantage in his experiment (e.g., he's healthy and does not have a dependent family). This story may inspire young people to realize how one's attitudes and foundational beliefs about society can influence where one goes in life. Shepard's conclusions and recommendations seem a bit simplistic but do not significantly detract from the book's overall impact. Recommended for public, high school, and undergraduate libraries.
—Elizabeth L. Winter

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780061714368
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 10/14/2008
  • Pages: 240
  • Sales rank: 492,066
  • Product dimensions: 6.20 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

Adam Shepard is a 2006 graduate of Merrimack College in North Andover, Massachusetts, where he majored in business management and Spanish. He lives in Raleigh, North Carolina.

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Read an Excerpt

Scratch Beginnings

Chapter One

Welcome to Crisis Ministries

Tuesday, July 25

There was nobody there.

There has always been somebody there to greet me. After every trip I've taken, it's either been Ma or Pops, a friend, a girlfriend, or, once, even a professor.

But not that night.

Nope. All that welcomed me was the humid evening air of Charleston, South Carolina, the rancid smell of urine leaking from the stalls of the train station's restrooms, and a scruffy looking man gripping a plastic cup half full with coins. That night, I was greeted by a totally new world.

But that was to be expected. I had been preparing for the unpleasant insecurity of this first night ever since my brother had dropped me off earlier in the day at the Amtrak station in Raleigh on his way to work. I had been preparing for my first moment of freedom for far longer than I could remember.

There are plenty of ways to get from Raleigh to Charleston, the city that I had randomly picked out of a hat of twelve other southeastern U.S. cities. You can drive or fly or hitchhike or take the bus. The ambitious, I suppose, could bike or run, but this wasn't that kind of journey. I chose the train because, economically speaking, it was the most efficient choice. And really, I chose to ride the rail for selfish reasons. I didn't want to have to bother with goodbyes once I got to South Carolina's premier port city. Surely whoever dropped me off would have hung over my shoulder for a while to make sure everything was okay.

And I'm glad I chose the train. Even if I had somehow known ahead of time that the ride would beuncomfortable and would arrive three hours late in Charleston, I still would have chosen the train. As it wound along Garner Road, the slow pace of southbound train number 5630 gave me an opportunity to say farewell to my previous life. Yep, that's the same Garner Road that takes you past the YMCA where I lifted weights with Bill, Charles, and Rod and where Jack had taught me how to shoot three-pointers with remarkable precision when I was just twelve years old. It goes past Rock Quarry Road, which takes you to Southeast Raleigh High School where Mr. Geraghty had inspired me to maintain my dreams on the basketball court but to also hold on to my education as a safety net, and past Aversboro Road, which will bring you to within fifty feet of the front doorstep of the home where I grew up. It goes past a collection of fast food joints and retail shops where I ate and shopped, but never worked, and past the sun-tanned tobacco fields that represent a lifestyle far beyond my comprehension, even for a boy from the South.

And now, here I was, alone in Charleston at the corner of Rivers and Durant, wondering if it would be wiser for me to go left or right or if pitching camp under the overpass for the night would be my best option. After all, it was getting late. At least I assumed it was getting late. The actual time? Couldn't have told you. But it was well after dark, and I hadn't seen one person since I had walked away from the train station.

A big-body, black Oldsmobile with tinted windows glided by with a suspiciously high regard of the speed limit.

The tattered map of Charleston that I had found on a vacant seat at the train station was going to prove to be useful. With it, I could more or less find my way on my own. Without it, I would be left to rely on the advice of strangers for guidance.

My first order of business was to find a comfortable place to sleep. Shoot, it didn't even have to be a comfortable place to sleep—just a place, a relatively safe place. As far as I could tell from the assortment of landmarks dispersed throughout the peninsula on the map, the action was happening south of my current location. Perhaps I was being naïve in what could have been a crucial mistake, but I figured that the excitement and opportunity of my new homeland were directly correlated. With excitement came opportunity, and I was looking for opportunity. Left it was.

After walking down Rivers Avenue, and walking some more down Rivers Avenue, the notion of time still hadn't hit me, especially with the expected 6:47 p.m. arrival time of the train prolonged. All I knew was it was dark out—pitch-black dark—and Murphy's Law had thrown off my mental preparations for the trip. A guy asked if I had any spare change.

"No, sorry," I said. I thought about retaliating with, "Do you have some for me? Cuz, uh, I'm actually running a little short myself." But, of course, I didn't. I had always accepted and even appreciated the vagrants that strung a guitar or blew on a saxophone or showcased some other talent at the park or at a subway stop underground, but I had never had any respect for the laziness of beggars.

The sign under Johnson's Chiropractic Clinic illuminated 10:14 and eighty-one degrees. Wendy's and Captain D's Seafood appeared on the right, and my nerves began to ease. Finally! Something familiar. With a little more bounce in my step and determination in my mind, I made the executive—yet uneducated—decision to keep hiking toward downtown for my first night of sleep.

The nagging barks of dogs cooped up in distant neighborhoods didn't bother me as much as the cars whizzing by at blistering speeds. But then again, even the cars didn't bother me as much as the lightning. Terrific! Lightning. Murphy was on a roll.

Or was that just heat lightning? What is heat lightning anyway? Is that the lightning that strikes between clouds or between a cloud and the air? Is it going to rain?

Scratch Beginnings. Copyright © by Adam Shepard. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.
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Table of Contents

Introduction: July 24–Setting Up

Chapter One: Welcome to Crisis Ministries

Chapter Two: EasyLabor

Chapter Three: Another Day, Another Dollar

Chapter Four: Big Babies

Chapter Five: Sundays with George

Chapter Six: Hustle Time

Chapter Seven: Job Hunting 101 with Professor Phil Coleman

Chapter Eight: Put Up or Shut Up

Chapter Nine: "First and Last Day"

Chapter Ten: Adventure in Moving

Chapter Eleven: Movin' On Up

Chapter Twelve: Workers' Consternation

Chapter Thirteen: Winter with Bubble Gum

Chapter Fourteen: Culture Shocked

Chapter Fifteen: Fighting for Respect

Chapter Sixteen: One Last Move

Epilogue: A Year later: A Didactic Look at What I Learned and Where We Go from Here
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July 24 – Setting Up

My mom is nervous. My pops seems more excited about it than I am. My brother anxiously awaits my departure so he can take possession of my bed and all of my clothes after I leave.
My friend Sana is stimulated by curiosity, while Matt thinks I may have simply gone mad.
And maybe he is right. I am very frustrated.
I am frustrated with the whining and complaining.
Frustrated with the materialistic individualism that seems to be shaping every thirteen-year-old to be the next teen diva.
Frustrated with the lethargy and lack of drive.
Frustrated at always hearing how it "used to be" when people talk about the good ol' days in the same breath as their perceived demise of America.
I am really, really frustrated with the poor attitudes that seem to have swept over my peer group. Frustrated with hearing "I don't have" rather than "Let's see what I can do with what I do have."
So, I have decided to attempt to demonstrate that it doesn't have to be that way.
There are many ways that I could go about this. I could work my way through years and years of school, and when the time came for me to write my dissertation, I could turn my teachings into a book perhaps worthy of being published that talked about the science of change or the science of attitude. I would write a comma and PhD next to my name on the cover and, based on my experience, people would know that whatever I had to say was inevitably true.
I could become the subject of a psychological case study on change that would highlight the importance of adopting a new way of thinking. I would find myself at the mercy of one of those aforementioned PhDs,hoping that he or she knew enough to use my talents-or lack thereof-productively.
Or, I can take matters into my own hands. And that's what I have decided to do. I have had the idea in my pocket, itching to come out, a plan that I have been toying with since high school. And now that I am fresh out of college, broke, and bordering on homelessness anyway, it seems like as good a time as any to let it out.
Here's my premise:
I am going to start almost literally from scratch with one 8' x 10' tarp, a sleeping bag, an empty gym bag, $25, and the clothes on my back. Via train, I will be dropped at a random place somewhere in the southeastern United States that is not in my home state of North Carolina. I have 365 days to become free of the realities of homelessness and become a "regular" member of society. After one year, for my project to be considered successful, I have to possess an operable automobile, live in a furnished apartment (alone or with a roommate), have $2,500 in cash, and, most importantly, I have to be in a position in which I can continue to improve my circumstances by either going to school or starting my own business.
There are a few ground rules that I need to establish in an effort to keep some critics at bay. On paper, my previous life doesn't exist for this one year. I cannot use any of my previous contacts, my college education, or my credit history. For the sake of this project, I have a high school diploma, and I will have recently moved to my new town. Additionally, I cannot beg for money or use services that others are not at liberty to use.
Aside from illegally sleeping in a park or under a bridge, I am free to do whatever I need to do within the confines of the law in order to accomplish my goal.
Well, that all sounds simple enough. Now for a few disclaimers on my behalf.
First of all, I feel it is necessary to establish that I have no political affiliation-right wing, left wing, conservative, liberal, Republican, or Democrat. For the next year, they're all the same to me. Socioeconomically speaking, my story is a rebuttal to Barbara Ehrenreich's Nickel and Dimed and Bait and Switch, the books that spoke on the death of the American Dream. With investigative projects of her own, Ehrenreich attempted to establish that working stiffs are doomed to live in the same disgraceful conditions forever. I resent that theory, and my story is a search to evaluate if hard work and discipline provide any payoff whatsoever or if they are, as Ehrenreich suggests, futile pursuits.
Second, I am not an author or a journalist. I only mention this to establish that my intent in this project is not to produce a divine work of literature where carefully comprised prose seems to dance sublimely off the page. I'm just a regular guy, so whatever you read is straight from my thoughts to the paper. In a way, I believe that my untapped mind will add to the value of my writing. After all, I'm going into this without making any assumptions, which means unbiased reporting.
Third, it is important that I note that evaluators of this project are going to call me on all sorts of technicalities. Whether it be the absence of a family to tend to, as is the case for many in the real world living in similar circumstances, or my innate sense of adventure or my overall health that plays to my advantage-all are fair criticisms and worth noting. However, my hope is that these thoughts will not take away from the tedious task at hand or the theme that I intend to represent.
I also want to point out that I am not going to attempt to strengthen my story by flooding you with a wide range of statistics and information from books or magazines or other periodicals. While this is certainly a research project of sorts and there are points to be made, I feel it is important that I draw only from my own experience.
As you're going to see throughout the course of my journey, this is not a modern-day rags-to-riches, get-rich-quick story. "I made a million, and you can too!" Nope. That's too cliché, and, ironically, too unrealistic. Mine is the story of rags-to-fancier-rags. I'm not an extraordinary person performing extraordinary feats. I don't have some special talent that I can use to "wow" prospective employers. I'm average. My story is very basic, simple. My story is about the attitude of success. My goal is to better my lot and to provide a stepping-stone over the next 365 days for everything else I want to accomplish in my life. I aim to find out if the American Dream is still alive, or if it has, in fact, been drowned out by the greed of the upper class coupled with the apathy of the lower class.

So, here we go. You, my audience:
The dad who can use this book when his twelve-year-old is complaining about not having the latest video game.
The fifteen-year-old who doesn't quite understand why he or she has to study so hard and take "all of these worthless classes that I'll never use in real life."
The recent college grad who-drowned in student loans and limited opportunities (and, of course, living at home)-is searching for any little bit of strength and direction.
The seventy-two-year-old grandfather who already has a firm grasp on the concept of my story and has doubtless lived many of these same experiences.
The thirty-two-year-old mother of two who is working multiple jobs just to get by. The one making the sacrifice so her children can have a shot at the American Dream that she gave up on long ago.
You, the underdog, sitting behind the eight ball, wondering when your number is going to be called.

And me, with $25 and my personal belongings on my back, ready for the craziest adventure of my life . . .
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 35 )
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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 35 Customer Reviews
  • Posted March 27, 2011


    I thought this was a great book that demonstrates what can be accomplished with hard work, determination and clear goals. I am planning on buying copies for my nieces and nephews who are currently in college or about to start.
    There is a lot of negativity these days about the American Dream being dead. I think this book demonstrates that while the road isn't easy, it is still very possible to start with virtually nothing and make something of yourself. While the author clearly had the advantage of an education,although he didn't claim to have a degree in his job search, he still had the benefit of the decision making skills an education brings with it that others in his predicament may not have. What Adam Shepard was able to accomplish in a mere 365 days starting with nothing is an inspiration for anyone who is starting off well ahead of where Adam was when he started his project.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 17, 2011

    Sample file problems

    I enjoyed the sample but the file had problems. It repeated several passages. This was confusing and annoying. I would like to read more but won't buy because of this.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 21, 2010

    This book is for anyone & everyone

    Okay, first off, this book is suchhhhhh an easy read.

    It will give you a different outlook toward the homeless and poverty-stricken with a glimpse into their everyday lives. There's nothing TOO crazy or many wild stories in the book, but it is 100% REAL and so unique. I would recommend it to absolutely anyone, either as just an eye-opener or a means to confirm people's dreams.

    So I know he is not an author, just a guy with a story to tell. But I hate how he tends to 'ruin the surprise' alot. There is not much suspense on what will happen to him; he usually gives it away beforehand. But the stories are still really unique nonetheless. I hate how he never tells you people's race or descriptions of their appearances. His attempt at political correctness (I'm assuming) makes it so much harder to really visualize the characters. I also wish we could have known more, or ANYTHING really, about Mickey. I mean, he lived in his house for 2 months, and he never once even mentioned him.

    Now to go a little deeper into the social science aspect of it, I have to say that I don't completely agree with his 'steps' for appeasing the cycle of poverty that he discusses in the epilogue. I do, however, admire his passion and concern for this epidemic. In my opinon, you can fund programs and preach and teach all you want, but what has to happen is people have to quit being so apathetic and have a completely different attitude and work ethic. Once people do get a more positive and productive attitude, then maybe these resources will be able to help them. But they have to help themselves first!! Okay, I don't want to get all political in a book review, but contrary to what he thinks, that is NOT the government's place.

    Like I said, I would recommend this book to ANYONE I know, so go out and get it! This is probably the only book I have ever read that I think every person in America at any age could appreciate.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 7, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Best Book Ever

    This is probably one of the best books ever. I wish I would have read this one after nickel and dimed in america. Adam Shepard had the guts to do it right when he set out to see what it would be like to start with nothing. I didnt want to put the book down, it had me laughing in parts of it and totally amazed in others. Really awesome job. More please!

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 21, 2009

    Awesome book

    This was truly an awesome book. It was so down to earth and parts of it were very funny. It was a life-changing book.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted November 21, 2008

    Me, $20, and the SEARCH for a WORTHWHILE BOOK

    This book, from my very first glance intrigued me. The concept that the author is expanding and trying to live upon is pretty original and I applaud someone for going this far in their "studies" to find an answer. <BR/>Unfortunately, that's about the most interesting part of this book. The idea.<BR/>The execution, though I don't doubt was difficult for our narrator, comes out in the book in a very nonchalaunt manner. There is nothing within the narrative that really can keep you engrossed and ultimately the book leaves you kind of unfeeling when it's all said and done.<BR/>Also, the final chapter, about looking back, comes off as having been written far before he took this journey and seems more of a sanctimonious political rant based on the authors own beliefs, instead of really being based on his experiences. While reading it, I felt no connection between it and the rest of the book at all. Instead I felt I were reading a dissertation from an idealistic college student who had not yet set foot into the harshness of the real world, not someone who had just for a year lived it. <BR/>I'd recommend it to anyone who finds the idea expressed, like myself, appealing. In that, you can take an appreciation of the effort and sacrifice involved away. But, much like the books by barbara ehrenreich that the author claims to want to disprove, it ends up as an ultimately poor written political farce.<BR/>Maybe it'd had been better as a documentary?

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted September 3, 2011

    Inspiring project, terrible author

    Reviewing this book is difficult. Taking on this project was quite brave. What Shepard accomplishes is amazing. But we're not reviewing his journey, we're reviewing his book. Right at the beginning, Shepard makes sure we all know he's not a writer. Sorry man, you're writing a book. I will judge you as a writer and an author. The entire book reads like a blog instead of a novel. Often times, Shepard will go off on a random tangent in the middle of a chapter, and he never really comes back to where it started. It seems like he has too many ideas and lacks the writing skill to put them all on paper. As far as his project, I don't think it necessarily disproves Bait and Switch. The author shows that with hard work, you can claw your way out of homelessness. With hard work, Shepard work his way UP TO poverty, not out of poverty. At the end of the journey, he was working a dead end job slinging boxes and had some money in savings. I fail to see how he planned to actually work out of poverty and into middle class. He didn't lay out any plans or strategies. He simply says "I have a crappy job with no opportunity for improvement and some cash in the bank". I give respect to Shepard for what he accomplished. However, he writes as if he's blogging his project instead of writing a book. I think he makes some sweeping conclusions that are incorrect. But he does show that with hard work, the homeless don't really have to be homeless.

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  • Posted July 10, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    An Interesting Read

    An enjoyable and an interesting insight into a world I hope never to be part of. Shepard does a solid job of investigating what it takes to start from scratch in the US. Not overly political (like "Nickle and Dimed" is), just a look at one person's experience with arriving into a strange town with very limited resources, and the process to get started with a new life.

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  • Posted April 2, 2011

    An Awesome Read!!!

    This book is about more than a man and his goal to see if it is possible to live the American Dream, it is about the willpower we all have inside of us to be, do, or have anything we want in life. Everyone has a goal or aspiration; whether it would be losing weight, quitting smoking or just making an effort to save a penny here and there. We also, all have a choice of whether or not we are willing to put in the effort into accomplishing our ambitions. What Scratch Beginnings: Me, $25, and the Search for the American Dream by Adam Shepard has proven to me is that EVERYONE is capable of pursuing and successfully accomplishing their goals no matter how big nor small they may be. Shepard, through his year-long project of trying to work his way out of homelessness, could possibly work as an inspiration to those who have 'thrown the towel in' and are certain that there is no way of succeeding. The men that Shepard meets (Marcos, Phil Coleman, Easy E, etc.) are truly personified examples of dedication proven by their aim toward escaping the grasp of hardship and onto the solid ground of social and economic stability. I enjoyed the fact that he shared each of these men's stories throughout Scratch Beginnings because it shows that the homeless are more than lazy and mindless, but most are goal-oriented and rational people who have been caught up in unfortunate circumstances.
    I definitely recommend that everyone reads this book no matter ones age, as long as he or she is willing to accept and learn that they are in charge of their own life (This book does contain profanity and suggestive material so only read it if you consider yourself mature). Overall, I liked the book because it definitely hit home. Making an effort to keep up with my education seems like nothing compared to the men and women who everyday struggle to live while on the streets, the people slaved to the needles and blunts that destroy all hopes for success, and the single-mothers strive to make the life of their children better than they had it. Scratch Beginnings has a lesson to teach everyone.

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  • Posted November 8, 2010

    Highly Recommend

    This book is awesome. It has changed my perspective on life so much, and I am only in high school.
    The best quote in the book that helped me come to this realization is: "no matter what life throws at you, you can take a hold of it and make something better out of it."
    Definitely read this book!!

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  • Posted April 23, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    The American Dream Is Alive And Well!

    I picked this book up because Dave Ramsey recommended it. This is the story about how the American Dream is alive and well. I don't know if I could have done what Adam did. That took a lot of guts. Strange city with only $25 and the clothes on his back. This book was an interesting read to say the least. Once you can't put the book down. I found myself cheering for Adam's success. It gave me hope that ANYONE can succeed in the United States of America! You are in control of your own destiny. You have a choice to make. Are you going to succeed or are you going to just follow the crowd? Make your choice. Get this book and be inspired!

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  • Posted December 9, 2008

    I Also Recommend:

    Prepare to be inspired.

    Scratch Beginnings: Me $25, And The Search for the AMERICAN DREAM tells the story on one young man who is out to make a difference in the world. Adam Shepard embarks on a once of a lifetime trip in order to seek out the ¿American Dream¿. He selects a random town, takes twenty-five dollars, a pair of clothes, and prepares himself to undergo in an adventure to move away from lower class, and make a true life for himself. In this novel self-identity comes up an extraordinary amount of times. During Adam¿s time at the shelter he realizes how important it is to be more comfortable with yourself than any other person on Earth. He begins to learn that not everything about him is based on what others think of him. Embedded in the pages is the message that hard work and determination can allow you to reach many more goals than thought possible, Adam Shepard proved this point. <BR/> There isn¿t many things that I could say weren¿t good about this novel. Throughout the story, weather it was one of Adam¿s stories, a friend¿s story, or someone living at the shelter, it made me seriously take a step back and realize how truly fortunate I am. Along with the novel, Summer¿s Stars, this has inspired me more than any other story I¿ve read to accomplish what I believe is necessary and to value the possessions I own everyday. Personally, this biography isn¿t about, an extraordinary person, it¿s about an ¿average Joe¿, like you and me, achieving what is right. This biography isn¿t packed with the hundreds of literary terms which analysts today find necessary, to make a novel great. This is about how one person can truly make a difference in thousands of other people¿s lives.<BR/> To any wondering, I would instantly recommend this book to you. Sometimes we don¿t have the best days that we¿ve seen; sometimes we don¿t realize what we have around us and how valuable that is. This story will open your eyes, if it doesn¿t I¿m not sure what will. To those of us believing that the members of the underclass do nothing but sleep on park benches, you are wrong. From day to day life most of these men do their best to-as Adam Shepard calls it- ¿get out¿. Men like Adam in the lower-class work their very hardest every day to get out, something not all of the more privileged can say. <BR/> Overall this was a great read for me. Never again will I look at the world the same way; never again will I take my resources for granted like in the past. On my scale, this book receives a solid five out of five.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 5, 2008

    Scratch Beginnings-Highly recommended

    Scratch Beginnings was a refreshing break from the nature of most non fiction that deal with social issues that are loaded with facts and numbers that you forget by the end of the book. This book didn't deal with the causes of homelessness or the different problems that can be acquired if you are homeless 'drug addiction'. It's merely a story of someone trying to make it with the cards they're dealt in a completely foreign environment. I know there are many criticisms for this book, but Shepard does well to answer them in the first stages of the book.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 23, 2008


    I enjoyed the book, and appreciated what the author was trying to prove - that he could start out with nothing and reach his goal of living independently, having a car, a job, and money in the bank. But I think the author succeeded because he was smart and had a goal and planned to work hard to reach the goal. I think most homeless and other bottom rung people live for only for the day. They are lazy and content with living off the backs of others. I say this with some knowledge because I have a family member who lives off the government and other people. There is no plan to change because what is the incentive? As long as there are handouts, free shelters, soup kitchens, etc., those people will not change their ways. They will not work a steady job, or work at all. I did enjoy the book, however, and admired the author for his hard work and willingness to become the bottom rung in order to prove that you can rise above it, if you want to.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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    Posted April 12, 2011

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    Posted March 18, 2009

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    Posted March 26, 2011

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