Have You Found Her Teacher’s Guide

By Janice Erlbaum

Have You Found Her by Janice Erlbaum


Questions and Topics for Discussion

1. In Have You Found Her, Janice has returned as a volunteer to the shelter where she once lived. She also voluntarily accepts a great deal of responsibility for Sam’s care and well-being. How else does the theme of volunteering apply in this book? Some self-help books discuss the notion of “volunteering for victimhood.” Can either Sam orJanice be seen this way?

2. Another theme of the book is addiction. Both Sam and Janice have
drug addictions, but they also exhibit other addictive behaviors. Can
you identify them? How do these other addictions affect their lives
and the events of the story?

3. Janice often mentions her own skin color, ethnic background, and
economic class, as well as the color, ethnicity, class, and sexual orientation
of the girls at the shelter. How do you think color, ethnicity,
class, and sexuality play into the events of the story? Do you think
such issues are handled sensitively in this book?

4. In the book, Janice admits to lying, taking drugs, and evading rules
a number of times. Does this influence your perception of her as a reliable
narrator? Why or why not?

5. Janice is a writer, as is Sam. How do you think Janice’s being a
writer affected the events of the story? Does this make her more or less
reliable as a narrator?

6. Were you surprised by the conditions of the shelter as Janice describes
them? What do you think of the shelter system, and how do
you think it could be improved? What kinds of services do you think
should be available to homeless and addicted youths?

7. Have you ever known someone like Sam? Is there anything about
her behavior that you recognize in other people, or even in yourself?
How do you think her behavior differs from that of “normal” people?

8. On page 336, Janice writes, “Something had happened in that
house . . . something that had helped make Sam very, very sick.” Do
you agree with her assessment? Do you think Sam’s sickness is a product
of her upbringing or do you think it is biological in nature? Are
her parents responsible for making her the way she was?

9. One title that was suggested for this book was “Sucker: A Love
Story.” Do you think that title is apt?

10. What do you think happened to the redhead who panhandled on
Janice’s block? What about the other graduates of the shelter? What
kinds of outcomes do you imagine for these girls?

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