“Where do you go, where do you hide, when the world hurts too much?”
This question is posed to six teens from different backgrounds, all of whom have endured childhoods filled with pain and difficulties. How does 14-year-old Ryan cope with his father’s sudden death and his mother’s frequent suicide attempts? What about Michaela, who had to cook and care for her siblings as a fifth-grader due to her mother’s substance-use disorder and mental illness? Both found it within themselves to draw upon what was left of their inner resources to transcend their circumstances. Television journalist Pitts offers a collection of true stories told by young people who share how they found self-worth while living in adversity. Not all of the stories draw from a dysfunctional home life. At 11, Mason took it upon himself to go on the internet to find ideas about weight loss and exercise, for instance, after he dealt with his failing health and school bullies who brutally teased him about being overweight. Ultimately, the author leans heavily on academic achievement as inspiration, and although education can be an outlet, overachievement isn’t a cure-all for youths who have suffered years of abuse. It’s too bad there is no list of national youth mental health programs and hotlines for readers in need.
Although the stories are heartbreaking, they also offer solace and hope to other youth who may be suffering through similar experiences. (Nonfiction. 12-16)