cover image Almost Lost: The True Story of an Anonymous Teenager's Life on the Streets

Almost Lost: The True Story of an Anonymous Teenager's Life on the Streets

. Avon Books, $5.99 (256pp) ISBN 978-0-380-78341-0

Presented as edited transcripts of taped counseling sessions Sparks (It Happened to Nancy) conducted with a 15-year-old patient, Sammy, this book pieces together a sobering story of a boy ""almost lost"" to depression. At his mother's insistence, the suicidal teenager begins talking to the perspicacious therapist, acknowledging that his inner pain is so deep that ""sometimes even my hair hurts."" Sammy can be almost astonishingly articulate as he gradually reveals the traumatic incidents from his past that have stripped away his self-esteem and self-respect. The caring therapist provides him with a variety of exercises, charts and ""mind games"" to help him get rid of the ""fetid garbage"" he is carrying around: his decision to join a gang in hopes of gaining a ""family,"" experimentation with drugs and alcohol, experience as a victim of a drive-by shooting and his debilitating, unresolved bitterness toward his abusive estranged father. Though the transcripts shape a clearly defined portrait of an intelligent, determined teen, some of the patient-therapist conversations recorded here may seem lengthy and repetitious to the general YA reader. Yet for those coping with depression, Sparks's account provides inspiration, some rudimentary practical tools and a resounding endorsement of the potential benefits of therapy. Ages 12-up. (June)