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

( 9 )

Overview

“Riveting . . . A genuinely important book that casts the problem of sex trafficking in America into stunning, heartbreaking relief.” (Kirkus Reviews)
 
A School Library Journal Best Adult Book for Teens
A Joan F. Kaywell Award Finalist from the Florida Council of Teachers of English
 
Carissa Phelps was a runner. By the ...

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Runaway Girl: Escaping Life on the Streets

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Overview

“Riveting . . . A genuinely important book that casts the problem of sex trafficking in America into stunning, heartbreaking relief.” (Kirkus Reviews)
 
A School Library Journal Best Adult Book for Teens
A Joan F. Kaywell Award Finalist from the Florida Council of Teachers of English
 
Carissa Phelps was a runner. By the time she was twelve, she had run away from home, dropped out of school, and fled blindly into the arms of a brutal pimp. Even when she escaped him, she could not outrun the crushing inner pain of abuse, neglect, and abandonment. With little to hope for, she expected to end up in prison, or worse. But then her life was transformed through the unexpected kindness of a teacher and a counselor. Through small miracles, Carissa accomplished the unimaginable, graduating from UCLA with both a law degree and an MBA. She left the streets behind, yet found herself back, this time working to help homeless and at-risk youth discover their own paths to a better life. Like the multimillion-copy bestseller The Glass Castle, this memoir moves us through the power of its unflinching candor and generosity.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
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)
Library Journal
A runaway and school dropout by age 12 who worked the streets for a brutal pimp, Phelps finally freed herself and is now a lawyer also working with a global collective helping survivors of sex trafficking rebuild their lives. This memoir, following hard on the heels of an award-winning documentary, is stirring some interest.
Kirkus Reviews
A California attorney and youth advocate's rivetingly raw account of the years she spent as a runaway, juvenile delinquent and prostitute. Phelps grew up with 11 brothers and sisters in "a noisy, crowded house where the competition for space, food, and attention never stopped" and where money and parental affection were in short supply. To escape, the author began frequenting the homes of neighborhood friends. By the time she was 12, she had become adept at "strategizing about where to sleep and how (not even what) I was going to eat." Her habits led her exasperated mother to abandon her at the Fresno County juvenile hall. From there, she took to the streets and became entangled with a series of pimps and drug addicts, who brutalized her both physically and emotionally. Two dispiriting years later, Phelps landed at Wakefield, a last-chance reform institution for girls, where she met two people who changed her life: a counselor who helped her regain her self-esteem and a teacher who reignited her love of mathematics. After leaving Wakefield, Phelps returned to school, graduated, went to college at Fresno State and completed a joint J.D./business degree program at UCLA. But the fight was not over. In her personal life, she "burned through friendships, drank [herself] silly, and dated recklessly." Only after she made the commitment to help troubled, sexually exploited girls did Phelps begin to find an end to the restlessness that had kept her on the run. A genuinely important book that casts the problem of sex trafficking in America into stunning, heartbreaking relief.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781410452078
  • Publisher: Gale Cengage Learning
  • Publication date: 10/26/2012
  • Edition description: Large Print Edition
  • Pages: 405
  • Sales rank: 1,044,983
  • Product dimensions: 5.70 (w) x 8.60 (h) x 3.60 (d)

Meet the Author

An attorney, motivational speaker, and youth advocate, Carissa Phelps works as part of a global collective to help local and international survivors of sex trafficking rebuild their lives. Her life story was the subject of the award-winning documentary "Carissa." She lives in San Luis Obispo, California.

Larkin Warren’s essays and articles have appeared in the New York Times Magazine, Glamour, More, and Good Housekeeping. Among her recent book collaborations are Mary Forsberg Weiland’s Fall to Pieces and Elyn R. Saks’s bestselling The Center Cannot Hold.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 9 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 9 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted May 31, 2013

    This is one of the best books written on this subject.  I work w

    This is one of the best books written on this subject.  I work with runaways and have read dozens of books, some autobiographical and others biographical or even fiction.  This is in my opinion the best one on the market. 

    She has vivid details, does not glamorize anything, and does not try to "sell" the story.  The book tells the story from her perspective, helping the reader understand what is going on in this girls mind while she is on the streets.  The story then goes into detail about what helped her get off the streets, and what did not.

    It is rare to read a book that is both interesting and educational.  For anyone who wants to understand why children end up on the streets, I strongly encourage you to read this book.  And, for any teens thinking of running, read this first.  Life on the streets is not like a Disney movie.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 9, 2012

    Excellent!

    Learn a little about what a human being can overcome. Kudos Carissa!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 4, 2012

    Well written with a surprisingly detailed recollections of her t

    Well written with a surprisingly detailed recollections of her thoughts and feelings. It is not apologetic, whinny, melodramatic or attempting to place blame. Written with enough depth to feel like you can understand why a teenager in that situations would make the bad decisions she did and why she couldn't escape on her own. This book also gives some good insight into why the approaches of the adults in her life worked or didn't work (As a teacher I've struggled with on how to approach the 'bad kids').

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted August 3, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    'Runaway Girl' is a truly moving and uplifting memoir written by

    'Runaway Girl' is a truly moving and uplifting memoir written by Carissa Phelps about her life as a runaway and the subsequent consequences it presented. The story of her childhood and teenage years is absolutely heartbreaking. She takes us through her early home life and what caused her to leave her home. By the tender age of twelve, Carissa had gone through more than most would in their entire lives. The amount of abuse and pain that she endured made me cry at times - my heart felt so deeply for her.

    Carissa's life takes an unexpected turn for the better after a teacher and counselor begin to show her true kindness and to nurture her back to a healthy state. The latter part of the memoir tells of what happened to Carissa after the help of these two people. She flourished in a remarkable way and has even been helping the homeless and at-risk youth.

    'Runaway Girl' is at times heartbreaking and at other times so filled with hope. It's written with such a conversational tone that it's an easy read, and the reader is easily pulled into her story. The book is exceptionally well written and had me engrossed from the first page. I deeply empathized with Carissa and was able to share both her deep pain and her exhilarating joy throughout the novel. Carissa's life story is one that everyone should read - it's full of the harsh realities of life that oftentimes get swept under the rug, but her amazing ability to better herself and eventually to help others is a true inspiration that is direly needed in our world today.

    Disclosure: I received a copy of the book in exchange for an honest review.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted July 8, 2012

    Simply Incredible Inspiring Story

    I could not put this book down. I have never read another book in which the author was so authentic and vulnerable. The way that Carissa chronicles her experiences and how she processes them is beautifully written and transparently descriptive.

    As a social worker, I would recommend “Runaway Girl” be required reading for anyone who works with children, especially children who have experienced trauma or demonstrate troubling behavior. Carissa shares her story in a way that allows us to understand we can all make a positive impact in any child’s life simply by valuing them instead of judging them.

    Although it is clear there are people who could be blamed for Carissa’s incredibly traumatic childhood, she tells her story without blame or self-pity, and without excuses. Her courage and resilience is a message of hope for anyone who has ever felt lost, unloved, abandoned, or valueless.

    After reading the book, I found it difficult to stop constantly thinking about all of the lessons I had gained from it and what I believe others could learn as well. Carissa captivates in the way she describes her inspirational journey.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 18, 2014

    Captivating

    Well written, emotional, a bit difficult at times due to the subject matter. This is an amazing and inspirational story of survival.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 11, 2013

    Highly recommend

    This book is great ! Carissa is inspiring and takes you through the journey of her like . Being a child care worker and reading this book helps me understand the layers we have to peel back to help our youth . I was able to meet Carissa at a training and I
    So glad I bought this book . Must read!!!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 30, 2012

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted November 19, 2014

    No text was provided for this review.

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