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RUNAWAY GIRL by Carissa Phelps


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

by Carissa Phelps with Larkin Warren

Pub Date: July 9th, 2012
ISBN: 978-0-670-02372-1
Publisher: Viking

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.