Review: Last Stop: A Survivor’s Story
Author: Nelson Velez & Tommy McInnis
No of Pages: 150
Release Date: 24 April 2010
In the Big Apple’s busy streets, these two men can be found doing their jobs and helping people get on with their lives. This book is their story. The true account of the lives and work of Nelson Velez, NYPD HOU police officer, from his early career as a Transit Police Officer to his work in the Homeless Outreach Unit, how he met Tommy McInnis, an MTA Connections outreach worker who was once homeless himself. Their story is revealed in Last Stop: A Survivor’s Story. Beyond their daily routine, readers will find a story that encompasses the countless people they encounter, as well as the drama they faced each day.
From law enforcement to social work, readers will be amazed how these two men have contributed a great deal to the society. Last Stop truly details the lives of some of New York’s unsung heroes.
Whilst being an interesting insight into the world of the New York City homeless population, I really couldn’t connect with Last Stop.
Last Stop is Tommy’s story, how he got off the streets, how he started working for the Homeless Outreach Unit, and how he started helping others in situations that he was once in. Nelson was his partner when he joined the HOU and as a team they paved the way in the earliest generations of helping the homeless get out of the train stations.
Tommy is interesting, knowing he is a real person helps with his story, and we don’t get to hear much of how he lived on the streets which for me was disappointing. It would have been interesting knowing his true roots, more of past to help connect to him. When he joined the HOU the only thing he has is life experience, no schooling or fancy degrees got him where he is today. And as it’s plain to everyone, he is the best man for the job. Tommy knows what these people are feeling and can go about the right way to get them off the streets and into a proper place for help. For Tommy it’s more than a job.
For Nelson, it’s just a job. Another day in the tunnels shooing out people that aren’t supposed to be there. We only get to hear a little of Nelson’s back story in the beginning and after that he only plays a small role in the rest of the story, occasionally making Tommy’s job harder because Nelson is there to remind him to follow the rules. There are certain ways to do things, regardless of if they may be less efficient.
Last Stop could have been something great, but the writing for me just took too much away from it. The story was jumpy, and sometimes very hard to follow. There was a point when I wasn’t sure if one lady was a cop or a homeless woman and it was only towards the end that it became clear. For me, Last Stop was a recount of events. There was a lack of feeling in the words, nothing to draw you in and hold you there. Tommy got off the streets, Tommy got a job, Tommy helped the homeless.
There was a lot of repetition and a lot of unneeded description. I would have been more interested in the layout of the tunnels, more of the homeless people’s stories. But all that was overlooked I felt and pointless descriptions of the floor replaced them. There also seemed to be a lot we as an audience were expected to know; slang places and in some cases people which made for some confusing re-reading.
I can fully understand that this is real life and not a fairytale in which the kitchen scullion becomes a prince. But I felt that certain things could have been emphasised to make Last Stop hit home but they weren’t.
Last Stop was interesting, but I don’t think it reached its potential.
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