A perceptive and moving account of growing up fast in harsh conditions.



A writer recounts her experiences of adolescent homelessness in this coming-of-age memoir.

At the age of 5, Recinos (Haiku, 2019, etc.) already knew she wanted new parents. Her father’s frequent rages and her mother’s erratic behavior stemming from bipolar disorder had already driven three of her older siblings from the house. When she was 8, her mother took her and her remaining brother to a trailer to hide out from their father. A few weeks later, after the heater broke, her mother left the two children alone on the side of a mountain road. Her parents divorced; her mother was in and out of hospitals; and her father soon remarried. Her father had the author hospitalized at 11, where she met other troubled youth in group therapy: “I’d quizzed the older kids on foster care, group homes, running away. I was learning about alcohol, marijuana, and harder drugs. I didn’t want to try drugs, but alcohol sounded like it might be a nice change from feeling trapped. I wanted to feel free.” As her life became increasingly unbearable, Recinos began routinely running away from home. At 13, while hitchhiking to California, she was raped by an ex-convict. She was soon placed in the care of the state, bouncing between juvenile detention, foster parents, and group residences before becoming homeless at 16. Drifting across the country and developing a drinking problem, she befriended other girls with similar lives and backgrounds as her own, one of whom was later brutally murdered by her boyfriend. At 17, the author found herself pregnant with few options. She needed to figure out a way to get sober and off the street, if not for her, then for her unborn child. Recinos’ prose is haunting and oftentimes surreal, as in this account of her pet rat and an attempted rape by a truck driver: “I woke up in the early morning hours to find the truck driver trying to unbutton my pants. My eyes flew open, and my knee kicked him hard in the groin. My rat was standing up on top of me, staring at him. He mumbled those unforgettable words; ‘I was going to rape you, but then I saw your rat.’ ” The volume gives a highly detailed picture of the experience of homelessness among teenage girls in all its horrid complexities. It also demonstrates the ways that youthful traumas, when unaddressed, can fester and cause increasingly severe problems as children age. The author’s portraits of her family, friends, and the many people she met along the way are rich and often heart-rending, as is the frankness with which she discusses their misfortunes. It’s a long book (over 370 pages), but it is never boring, and readers will leave it feeling that they have lived every year right along with Recinos. The fact that her story has a surprisingly happy ending (as the initials “MD” after her name on the memoir’s cover attest) does little to blunt the sting that this gritty narrative of homelessness and young womanhood leaves in its wake.

A perceptive and moving account of growing up fast in harsh conditions.

Pub Date: Oct. 3, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-73285-000-2

Page Count: 388

Publisher: Time Tunnel Media

Review Posted Online: July 19, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2019

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Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis...



Privately published by Strunk of Cornell in 1918 and revised by his student E. B. White in 1959, that "little book" is back again with more White updatings.

Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis (whoops — "A bankrupt expression") a unique guide (which means "without like or equal").

Pub Date: May 15, 1972

ISBN: 0205632645

Page Count: 105

Publisher: Macmillan

Review Posted Online: Oct. 28, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 1972

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From the national correspondent for PBS's MacNeil-Lehrer Newshour: a moving memoir of her youth in the Deep South and her role in desegregating the Univ. of Georgia. The eldest daughter of an army chaplain, Hunter-Gault was born in what she calls the ``first of many places that I would call `my place' ''—the small village of Due West, tucked away in a remote little corner of South Carolina. While her father served in Korea, Hunter-Gault and her mother moved first to Covington, Georgia, and then to Atlanta. In ``L.A.'' (lovely Atlanta), surrounded by her loving family and a close-knit black community, the author enjoyed a happy childhood participating in activities at church and at school, where her intellectual and leadership abilities soon were noticed by both faculty and peers. In high school, Hunter-Gault found herself studying the ``comic-strip character Brenda Starr as I might have studied a journalism textbook, had there been one.'' Determined to be a journalist, she applied to several colleges—all outside of Georgia, for ``to discourage the possibility that a black student would even think of applying to one of those white schools, the state provided money for black students'' to study out of state. Accepted at Michigan's Wayne State, the author was encouraged by local civil-rights leaders to apply, along with another classmate, to the Univ. of Georgia as well. Her application became a test of changing racial attitudes, as well as of the growing strength of the civil-rights movement in the South, and Gault became a national figure as she braved an onslaught of hostilities and harassment to become the first black woman to attend the university. A remarkably generous, fair-minded account of overcoming some of the biggest, and most intractable, obstacles ever deployed by southern racists. (Photographs—not seen.)

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 1992

ISBN: 0-374-17563-2

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 1992

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