Runaway Girl: Escaping Life on the Streets, One Helping Hand at a Time

Carissa Phelps with Larkin Warren. Viking, $26.95 (320p) ISBN 978-0-670-02372-1
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In this brave memoir, Phelps spares no detail of her loveless, troubled childhood. In the second grade, her stepfather throws her out the door in front of the school bus as her mother watches. One of 11 children in a rundown house in Coalinga, Calif., Phelps skips classes and curses her teacher in the first days of junior high. By 12, she drops out and rarely comes home. When she does, her mother drives her to a juvenile hall and leaves. The state sends her to group homes, but she always runs away, preferring the freedom of the streets, where she meets crack-addicted Natara, a prostitute, and Icey, a pimp, a pair who promise to take care of her. Despite the unspeakable atrocities done to her along the way, Phelps is too young and naïve to escape their dark web. After Icey is arrested for other crimes, Phelps is raped by older men who subsequently discard her. Finally, after stealing a car, she lands in the Youth Authority detention center. There, she meets her first mentor, counselor Ron Jenkins. Slowly and with setbacks, Phelps rebuilds her life and graduates from high school thanks to the perseverance of a teacher. She finds love and acceptance through the kindness of strangers who see her potential. Later, while earning a law degree and M.B.A. from UCLA, the author, as she explains, takes great strides to reach out to troubled kids, and creates a documentary, Carissa, about her life. Agent: Stuart Krichevsky. (July)
Reviewed on: 04/23/2012
Release date: 07/05/2012
Genre: Nonfiction
Paperback - 311 pages - 978-0-14-312333-0
Hardcover - 473 pages - 978-1-4104-5207-8
Open Ebook - 320 pages - 978-1-101-58370-8
Open Ebook - 320 pages - 978-1-101-58340-1
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