“Riveting . . . A genuinely important book that casts the problem of sex trafficking in America into stunning, heartbreaking relief.” (Kirkus Reviews)
A School Library Journal Best Adult Book for Teens
A Joan F. Kaywell Award Finalist from the Florida Council of Teachers of English
Carissa Phelps was a runner. By the time she was twelve, she had run away from home, dropped out of school, and fled blindly into the arms of a brutal pimp. Even when she escaped him, she could not outrun the crushing inner pain of abuse, neglect, and abandonment. With little to hope for, she expected to end up in prison, or worse. But then her life was transformed through the unexpected kindness of a teacher and a counselor. Through small miracles, Carissa accomplished the unimaginable, graduating from UCLA with both a law degree and an MBA. She left the streets behind, yet found herself back, this time working to help homeless and at-risk youth discover their own paths to a better life. Like the multimillion-copy bestseller The Glass Castle, this memoir moves us through the power of its unflinching candor and generosity.
In this brave memoir, Phelps spares no detail of her loveless, troubled childhood. In the second grade, her stepfather throws her out the door in front of the school bus as her mother watches. One of 11 children in a rundown house in Coalinga, Calif., Phelps skips classes and curses her teacher in the first days of junior high. By 12, she drops out and rarely comes home. When she does, her mother drives her to a juvenile hall and leaves. The state sends her to group homes, but she always runs away, preferring the freedom of the streets, where she meets crack-addicted Natara, a prostitute, and Icey, a pimp, a pair who promise to take care of her. Despite the unspeakable atrocities done to her along the way, Phelps is too young and na ve to escape their dark web. After Icey is arrested for other crimes, Phelps is raped by older men who subsequently discard her. Finally, after stealing a car, she lands in the Youth Authority detention center. There, she meets her first mentor, counselor Ron Jenkins. Slowly and with setbacks, Phelps rebuilds her life and graduates from high school thanks to the perseverance of a teacher. She finds love and acceptance through the kindness of strangers who see her potential. Later, while earning a law degree and M.B.A. from UCLA, the author, as she explains, takes great strides to reach out to troubled kids, and creates a documentary, Carissa, about her life.
Customer ReviewsSee All
Simply amazing. The courage and strength shown is purely awe inspiring. An encouraging story for so many reasons. Kudos Carissa for your strength, beauty, courage and determination.
This woman has changed my life
I have had the honor of meeting this woman and when I saw was an amazing and courageous woman. She gives me hope and strength and every day that I think that I can't get up and make it I think of her and I know I can thank you Carissa
A must read. I couldn't put the book down. Its an amazing story. I really felt Carissa's pain and went through all the emotions with her. So happy that she has come this far and can now help others. :)