RUNAWAYS: In Their Own Words: Kids Talking about Living on the Streets by Jeffrey Artenstein

RUNAWAYS: In Their Own Words: Kids Talking about Living on the Streets

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KIRKUS REVIEW

A disturbing, often heartbreaking compilation of tape-recorded interviews with teen-agers who found temporary refuge from the Los Angeles streets in a city-funded shelter. Here are interviews with Terri, James, Julie, Bettina, Benny, and more, all runaways or--shocking term--""throwaways,"" children whose parents could but won't take them back. They have come to the shelter from as far away as Georgia, most escaping homes where they are abused and neglected. Julie, for example, hit the streets as an innocent and uncorrupted 13-year-old, thrown away by the cousin she was living with when the economic pressures became unbearable.Within two days, she was bartering her body for food and shelter. Most of the children ran away from families or foster families who abused alcohol, drugs, or each other. In some cases they found street families who offered protection of a sort; prostitution, shoplifting, and the drug trade brought enough money to live on. Often it was enough money to live very well on, making the prospect of going back to school or getting a job at MacDonald's unappealing. What finally drives them to the shelter is one too many acts of violence, one too many desperate nights, or a yearning to turn their lives around. Success in creating a new life is rare, but it happens--and according to the statistics quoted, it happens often in this L.A. program. Artenstein, a free-lance writer and volunteer worker at the shelter, infrequently intersperses comments on these interviews. He offers no solutions; he hopes that readers ""lose their innocence"" as he did. Sadly, he succeeds.

Pub Date: July 20th, 1990
Publisher: Tor--dist. by St. Martin's