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RUNAWAY GIRL

ESCAPING LIFE ON THE STREETS, ONE HELPING HAND AT A TIME

A genuinely important book that casts the problem of sex trafficking in America into stunning, heartbreaking relief.

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.

Pub Date: July 9, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-670-02372-1

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: April 20, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2012

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BETWEEN THE WORLD AND ME

NOTES ON THE FIRST 150 YEARS IN AMERICA

This moving, potent testament might have been titled “Black Lives Matter.” Or: “An American Tragedy.”

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The powerful story of a father’s past and a son’s future.

Atlantic senior writer Coates (The Beautiful Struggle: A Father, Two Sons, and an Unlikely Road to Manhood, 2008) offers this eloquent memoir as a letter to his teenage son, bearing witness to his own experiences and conveying passionate hopes for his son’s life. “I am wounded,” he writes. “I am marked by old codes, which shielded me in one world and then chained me in the next.” Coates grew up in the tough neighborhood of West Baltimore, beaten into obedience by his father. “I was a capable boy, intelligent and well-liked,” he remembers, “but powerfully afraid.” His life changed dramatically at Howard University, where his father taught and from which several siblings graduated. Howard, he writes, “had always been one of the most critical gathering posts for black people.” He calls it The Mecca, and its faculty and his fellow students expanded his horizons, helping him to understand “that the black world was its own thing, more than a photo-negative of the people who believe they are white.” Coates refers repeatedly to whites’ insistence on their exclusive racial identity; he realizes now “that nothing so essentialist as race” divides people, but rather “the actual injury done by people intent on naming us, intent on believing that what they have named matters more than anything we could ever actually do.” After he married, the author’s world widened again in New York, and later in Paris, where he finally felt extricated from white America’s exploitative, consumerist dreams. He came to understand that “race” does not fully explain “the breach between the world and me,” yet race exerts a crucial force, and young blacks like his son are vulnerable and endangered by “majoritarian bandits.” Coates desperately wants his son to be able to live “apart from fear—even apart from me.”

This moving, potent testament might have been titled “Black Lives Matter.” Or: “An American Tragedy.”

Pub Date: July 8, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-8129-9354-7

Page Count: 176

Publisher: Spiegel & Grau

Review Posted Online: May 5, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2015

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NIGHT

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...

Elie Wiesel spent his early years in a small Transylvanian town as one of four children. 

He was the only one of the family to survive what Francois Maurois, in his introduction, calls the "human holocaust" of the persecution of the Jews, which began with the restrictions, the singularization of the yellow star, the enclosure within the ghetto, and went on to the mass deportations to the ovens of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. There are unforgettable and horrifying scenes here in this spare and sombre memoir of this experience of the hanging of a child, of his first farewell with his father who leaves him an inheritance of a knife and a spoon, and of his last goodbye at Buchenwald his father's corpse is already cold let alone the long months of survival under unconscionable conditions. 

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the sphere of suffering shared, and in this case extended to the death march itself, there is no spiritual or emotional legacy here to offset any reader reluctance.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2006

ISBN: 0374500010

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Hill & Wang

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006

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