CHILDREN OF THE EVENING by Trudee Able-Peterson


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Some agony and soul-searching by an ex-prostitute/ex-stripper whose path out of ""the life"" led her to crisis-counseling in Times Square. The teen prostitutes and drug addicts, she recalls, looked vulnerable and yet too-old--from Heather, whose throat was slit and whose legs were cut off by a psychopath, to Delia, who overdosed on Valium in an abandoned building. Most were victims of vicious pimps, substance abuse, broken homes, and in some cases incest. Able-Peterson herself grew up in North Dakota farmland; she lost her father at an early age, was touched in a ""dirty"" way by an elderly neighbor she trusted, saw two brothers carted off to jail, and lost any sense of self-worth when classmates termed her a ""slut."" After the failure of a second marriage left her with two kids to support, she took to the Minneapolis streets to earn enough to keep them in food and keep herself in drugs. Then, to avoid the draft, her ex-husband sued for custody. The children gone, she sank further and further into drug-induced oblivion, coming out only long enough for the children's weekend visits (for which she had to pay her ex-husband blackmail money). Eventually, she took the children and fled to New York, where she found a place as a government-funded surrogate mother for runaways. To some extent, a hard-luck story is a hard-luck story; but Able-Peterson does make you feel the rut of low self-esteem that leads youngsters into prostitution. She also succeeds in putting across her main point: that those youngsters need a long-term shelter, not simply a crisis-intervention network. (Their trust, she demonstrates, is hard to win--and very quickly lost.) Able-Peterson is currently going to school to acquire the ""learning and contacts"" necessary to realize her dream of that shelter. A bit heavy on the organ music, but not without its effect.

Pub Date: Nov. 4th, 1981
Publisher: Putnam