Nowhere Else I Want to Be: A Memoir

Arriving at Miriam's House, the Washington, D.C., nonprofit founded by Carol Marsh in 1993 to care for homeless women with AIDS, residents brought "bags and spirits stuffed to bursting with the detritus of lives lived in defiance of the odds." Sharing personal stories of those suffering from the severe, stigmatizing effects of addiction and disease, Nowhere Else I Want to Be is Marsh's memoir of creating a home for women forgotten by their families and neglected by society.

A native Delawarean raised in a white, middle-class household, Marsh's life was starkly different from the primarily black, impoverished, drug- and alcohol-addicted women she felt called to work with and live among during her 14 years as Miriam House's executive director. (She and her husband, Tim, resided in an apartment on the premises.) In an occasionally fragmented narrative that sometimes resembles a collection of essays more than memoir, Marsh lays bare the cultural naiveté, personality clashes and false assumptions made by her, the residents, staff and board members, alongside the tender moments spent by a dying woman's bedside while telling her she is beautiful and loved.

Nowhere Else I Want to Be is a heartfelt, candid story of finding peace with one's place in the world, whether as a woman unable to care for one's children because of the ravages of AIDS or as a struggling nonprofit leader confronting new truths, and the growth that happens within the circle of compassion. --Melissa Firman, writer, editor and blogger at

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