RUNAWAY by Evelyn Lau


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Sex, drugs, and an obsession with ""my writing"" dominate this self-absorbed journal of a nonetheless remarkable teenager. Runaway was a bestseller in Canada, although it's not clear why. While this 14-yearold's diary is steamy in its descriptions of front-seat sex, it's also raw and unfinished in its conventional and self-conscious prose. Now 23, Lau (Fresh Girls and Other Stories, 1995), a Chinese-Canadian, ran away from her Vancouver home when she was only 14 to escape overprotective parents with impossibly high standards. Although she was already a published poet, she was also bulimic and thinking of suicide. Sheltered after her escape from home by a network of young activists, she was retrieved quickly by Canada's social service network. But Lau never returned to live with her parents. Instead, she slipped in and out of the interstices of the safety net, at one point fleeing to Boston. Too far from home, she turned herself in to be brought back to Vancouver by her social workers, who complained--with justice--about the money and effort being expended to lasso her. Placed in a series of group and foster homes when she wasn't on the street or on the run, Lau was eventually allowed her own apartment. From there, she dipped even more deeply into prostitution (in cars and vans, no penetration), drugs (Valium, LSD, methadone, and more), and suicide (three attempts), telling all to two psychiatrists and what seems to be a rasher of frustrated but endlessly patient social workers. But she also went back to school and never stopped writing--either her journal or poems submitted to various magazines, some of which were accepted and published, as was this diary. Outspoken but without insight, naive but capable of inflicting great pain: Lau's adolescent reflections are--despite their shock value--no more than that.

Pub Date: Nov. 1st, 1995
Page count: 276pp
Publisher: Coach House