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

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Overview

Who in his right mind wants to talk to a shrink? I don't want to talk about anything. I don't want to feel anything, taste anything ... or anything. The lyrics "just dying to die" run around in my brain day and night...

Fifteen-year-old Sam is in pain. He comes to the therapist's office unwillingly, angry, depressed, and filled with guilt over his own self-destructive behavior. He is being drawn deeper and ...

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

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Overview

Who in his right mind wants to talk to a shrink? I don't want to talk about anything. I don't want to feel anything, taste anything ... or anything. The lyrics "just dying to die" run around in my brain day and night...

Fifteen-year-old Sam is in pain. He comes to the therapist's office unwillingly, angry, depressed, and filled with guilt over his own self-destructive behavior. He is being drawn deeper and deeper into a black hole of despair from which he sees no way out.

The Road Back

This is the Real-life story of Sam's Recovery, told from tapes of his therapy sessions. It tells what drove him to leave home, how he survived on the street, and why he was desperate to escape from the brutality of the gang that had become his "family" and from the torment of his own self-loathing. For every teen who has experienced the pain and loneliness of a no-way-out darkness, and for all those who love them, here is the light that can lead the way back.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
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)
School Library Journal
Gr 9 UpSammy, 15, ran away from home in depression and despair, and this is the story of his return to his family and his road to recovery. The book was written from tapes of his therapy sessions. In eight months, he transformed from being a gang member surviving in the streets to the glue that brought his parents together again. He graphically describes his reasons for joining the gang, his initiation, and its activities. The text is mainly a dialogue between Sammy and his counselor and occasionally one of his family members. The therapist uses various psychological techniques such as positive light therapy, optical illusions, positive thinking, etc. It is hard to imagine that the troubled teenager described in the beginning could change so dramatically so quickly and cure his father's cocaine habit, recover from depression, and restore his parents' marriage. Although this book attempts to give troubled students hope and a role model to follow, the scenario described is hardly the norm, and the young man comes across as wise beyond his years in the counseling sessions.Sandra L. Doggett, Urbana High School, Walkersville, MD
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780380783410
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 6/28/1996
  • Edition description: Reissue
  • Pages: 256
  • Age range: 12 - 15 Years
  • Product dimensions: 4.18 (w) x 6.75 (h) x 0.64 (d)

Meet the Author

Beatrice Sparks is a family and adolescent therapist who edited the diary that formed the basis for Go Ask Alice, and has since edited many diaries on topics such as gangs, AIDS, and teen pregnancy in the 1988 Annie's Baby. She lives in Provo, UT.

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Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

Paula Gordon Chart
Tuesday, March 29, 10:10 A.M.

Paula Gordon, Registered Nurse, called regarding
therapy for her son Samuel Gordon, age 15

SYMPTOMS

Samuel has gone from being a bright, happy, funny, usually self-confident boy to someone who often seems "almost an old senile stranger."

  1. His mother notices a continuing loss of selfesteem.
  2. Difficulty in concentration and/or remembering.
  3. Unusual irritability.
  4. Spurts of, for no apparent reason, blatant hostility.
  5. Appetite loss. On rare occasions, gorging.
  6. Melancholy periods that come oftener, stay longer.
  7. Times when he locks himself in his room and she can hear him crying pitifully.
  8. He seems to feel completely detached from everyone and everything.
  9. His grades have fallen from As and Bs to Ds and Fs.
  10. He has quit his part-time job.

APPOINTMENT MADE FOR:
Samuel Gordon — Monday, April 4, 2:00 P.M.

Samuel Gordon Chart
Monday, April 4, 2:00 p.m.

Edited tape from first visitSAMUEL (SAMMY) GORDON, 15 years old

"Hi, Samuel. I'm Doctor B."

"Hi." Samuel sounded as depleted as if he had just done his best, but still finished dead last, in an exhausting marathon that he had really wanted to win.

"Do you like to be called Samuel, Sam, Sammy, or something else?"

He shrugged.

"I want you to know that anything you say in this session is completely between the two of us. I am required by law to keep it confidential. I ameven more bound by my own code of ethics to honor and respect your thoughts and concepts and words absolutely."

Samuel continues. "What I really want is for you and the rest of the whole screwed-up world, including me, to just quickly and quietly dissolve into nothing, never-was, nothingness."

"You don't know me but

"I kind of know you through your books."

"I hope you know how much I cared for each of those kids. "

"I guess."

"Do you think I would care less about you?"

He shrugged.

"I want to be completely honest with you so that you can feel safe in being straightforward and honest with me — that is, if you want to be. Does that sound fair?"

"Ummm ...

"If I feel someone I talk with is an endangerment to himself or herself, or to others, I might on a rare occasion feel it necessary to seek help beyond my own ability, but only in a professional way. I hope that makes sense to you."

"It doesn't. Why can't everybody just live, or not live, their own life?"

"Because sometimes people can't see their glorious future through their glucky present."

"That's Establishment horse hockey."

"Your mom told me that you didn't want to come, didn't think you needed to come."

"For once the warden and keeper was right."

"Did you have any particular reason for not wanting to see me?"

"Why would anyone in their right mind wanna see a shrink?"

"What's the difference between seeing a medical doctor when you suffer from physical pain and seeing a therapist when you're hurting mentally? Isn't the pain you have now as real as any pain could be?"

"It's not really pain. It's . . ."

"You mean it's not like a broken leg."

"Yeah."

"But it's still deep, dark, cold discomfort isn't it?"

(Deep sigh.) "Sometimes even my hair hurts."

"Would you like to talk about what is hurting you?"

"No."

"Would it help to try to find out why you're sad?" "Uh-huh."

Samuel pulled into himself like a turtle pulling into its shell.

"Would you like to feel better? Like your old, old, olden self?"

"I almost don't even remember that person."

"But would you like to go back again to a happy, uncluttered, unpressured existence?"

"I'm not sure I ever was that way."

"Do you think maybe you're depressed?"

"No way! My mom probably gave you a bunch of gobbly goop poop about that. Actually, she has not clue one. What she's really looking for is absolute, complete remote control of my life."

"You think she wants to completely control your life?"

"Seems like it."

"How does that make you feel?"

"Like hell. Makes me wanna get the hell outta there and off the planet."

"Does your mom know that?"

"She should. I've told her often enough."

"Think about this question for a minute. Maybe your mom's pushy, but do you think she tries to give you suggestions and guidelines and boundaries because she hates you or because she loves you?"

"Who knows?"

"You honestly don't know?"

'I honestly don't care."

"Did you know that depression is a lot more than just a long downer? It's loneliness, apathy, loss of interest and pleasure and curiosity. I wish you'd talk with me about depression even if you don't have it. Lots of kids do, you know. In fact, it is estimated that over eighteen million people today suffer from depression, many, many of them kids!"

"Eighteen million?"

"The sad thing is that lots of depression goes undiagnosed and untreated because people don't want to accept the symptoms for what they are. They don't know that it can be diagnosed and treated . Anyone who is going through a state of unhappiness or nonfeeling deserves to know that it is practically always temporary and that he or she is not alone! Not the only person in the entire universe who feels that way, but just one out of eighteen million."

"I thought I was the only one so sort of unhinged and out of touch."

"Believe me, you're not! I'd say that most kids go through some degree of depression, at one point or another before they become adults. And they're usually pretty good at covering it up. There are probably many kids you know who, to...

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 31 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(18)

4 Star

(6)

3 Star

(3)

2 Star

(1)

1 Star

(3)

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 31 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted June 4, 2012

    OMG

    I too have suffered with deppression and anxiety so this was a really ensuring book that said YOU ARE NOT ALONE!!!

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 5, 2008

    A wonderful story

    I was suffering with depression, today still am a little bit. But I went to the schools library to find a book about depression and stuff, so I came across Almost Lost and checked it out. At first did not wanted to. But did anyways and through the months of reading this book I felt more connected with Sammy, I love this book and every page I turned to related to me...Now, today I thank God for making me checked this book out. It was time to turn it in. So I did but next year I checked it out and now I never turned it back in because I love it so much I actually cried because I did not want to turn it in. It was hard this book is my life...giving it to someone would be like giving my life away. There are so many people who think this book sucks but thats because THEY suck...This is a Golden prize for me. Now I have the book in my backpack never take it off from there. Oh and this is my 3rd time going through it. =D

    2 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 16, 2006

    Eh....

    I think this book had an amazing concept, really I did. But the fact that after such a short period of time Sammy starts warming up to the psycologist and giving her high fives as he walks in is completely unbelievable. No teenager would warm up to an adult that quickly. And let's face it, even if they did, no one wants to read about it. People want to read drama, how the teen doesn't want to open up, how he breaks down finally admitting his story. This book is not something a teenager, or any other human for that matter, wants to read.

    1 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted March 15, 2003

    I Love This Book!

    This is one of the best books i have ever read. It is such a touching story, i love it!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted May 14, 2014

    To omac

    The grove is a shopping center... for cheap rnt u have to live by long beach

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted April 11, 2014

    Jake

    Yawns

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 5, 2013

    Help

    I am very open with my theripists but i lie as sammy i am very positive around adults smiling..... but right now its my candel and unlike sammy ill be blowing it out hi story is very insperational though it coulld help alot of people but not me.. :(

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted July 10, 2013

    To below

    Gee thanks for enlightening us all with ir wisdom.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 30, 2013

    Anonymous

    I really enjoy this book
    Is so sad but i read this everyday i never put it down

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted September 25, 2012

    I

    Have suffered from depression so I' m glad I'm not alone.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted February 7, 2007

    Helpful

    This book was really good. I can relate to 'Sammy' a lot because I went though the same thing that he did. After reading it, I didn't feel so lonely or depressed. It made me feel that I wasn't the only one going through this and other people feel the exact same way.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted March 21, 2006

    Read this book if you in need of help

    This book is about 15 years old boy named sam. He is going through depression and violence. He seeing the help. He in doing so good with friend and family. He doesn't the perpest relationship with anyone. The gang that he is in is trying to beat him up. There is a that is so confusing at the middle of the book. Because it flash back forward. So read this book if the gang is after you. This book will help you make the right decesion. so read it and enjoy...

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted March 21, 2006

    Read this book if you're going through the pain

    This book is about a fifteen year boy named sam. He is going through the depression and violence. He is in a gang and trouble a lot. He went and see the help. He is not doing so good. Read this book if you're in a gang. This will help you make the right decesion. So red and enjoy it.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted July 7, 2005

    This book made me throw-up!!

    Reading the back cover of this book, you would expect to read a story of a boy that was depressed and angry. This book is horrible! I can hardly find it realistic. I too have had to sit through the same sessions as sammy. I also know many other people who have as well. I must say Sammy's 'Supper cool Pos' tude'' is really sickening to someone who really has gone through that deep despair. I find it hard to believe Sammy is/had gone through all those depression stages and still finds the strength to be so freakin perky to his Psychologist with such a great and willing attitude. To me this isn't Sammy's story- its Dr. Sparks self help book with a story line. When you're feeling that depressed the last thing you want to read is a self help book. YUCK. The WORST book I have Ever forced my self to read.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 25, 2005

    Good, but could have been better

    I think this book would have been SOOO much more interesting if they had put it in Sammy's point of veiw, instead of his phsyciatrist tapes. Because then it feel like your getting a lecture instead of a story. The only realy good part of this book is when he explains the stuff about running away. And who in their right mind would high-five a shrink?

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 25, 2004

    big icky, yawning BORE

    When I first got this book, I thought it was going to be really good. Yeah, right. I read about 40 or so pages but was SO INCREDIBLY BORED, I had to put it down. I have depression too, but this book was such a bore. Maybe it would have been more interesting if the book was written through Sammy's point of view rather than his trips to the Pyschiatrists office, God knows I've sat through enough of my own.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 19, 2004

    WOW

    WOW i really loved this boook. At first i didnt because first they talk about how he came and how his mother was talkin to the psychiatrist, but then i really got into the book when sammmy was tellin what happened to him. I think that many people should really read this boook. Because theres a lot of people who talk like say things like they are 'gangsta' and all that but they are really not, they really don;t know what happenes when you get shot, how you feeel, and when you think that noone cares bout you and you feel lonely, many people don;t know those basic thingz. I really love books by beatrice sparks, they are really interesting, and i have almost all of them at home. So people buy her books and read them.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 25, 2004

    Great Book

    I just finished this book and I loved it! I think it would really help any teen with a similar situation.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 6, 2004

    Pretty Good

    This book is a true to life type of story. I was intrigued by the types of things Sammy went through, and i believe many young kids and teenagers could relate. This book could be motivating to any kid who feels he or she is on the edge.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 7, 2003

    Teen Reader

    I liked it. But I didn't find it that helpful! It's weird though...why would you go to a shrink after you came home from running away before you went to a friends house or your own house?

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 31 Customer Reviews

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