Friday, April 24, 2015

The Best Book I Read in April: Runaway Girl

It's time again for The Cephalopod Coffeehouse--a blog hop for book lovers who gather to discuss the best book they've read each month.

The Cephalopod Coffeehouse - April 24th

This month, the best book I read was Runaway Girl, a memoir by Carissa Phelps.
I heard about this book while reading Walking Prey: How America's Youth are Vulnerable to Sex Slavery, another memoir by Holly Austin Smith. Both of these books deal with the aftermath of sex trafficking and life on the streets, and both are formidable in their retelling of their troubled childhoods and the events that lead to the chronic desire to run away and join life on the streets. But Phelps's memoir takes that extra step and really delves deep into the emotion and the pain leading up to her decision to run...again and again and again.
Raised within a sort of dysfunctional Brady Bunch, Phelps grows up as one of thirteen kids--the product of a blended family. Suffering from neglect and abuse, she makes the decision that living from day to day, floor to floor, couch to couch, is preferable to fending for herself emotionally and physically in her own house. Soon she's within the clutches of a pimp, and even when she escapes that terrible situation and is returned home, she's off and running again.
When you've grown up in an average household with an average upbringing, it's hard to imagine why living on the streets at the age of eleven or twelve is preferable to living in a family, even if that family isn't as loving as one would like. But Phelps describes her need to run as nearly physical--she describes it as an impulse, uncontrollable and necessary. 
Runaway Girl is a riveting book. I couldn't put it down, and it's important from the perspective of America's youth and their need to feel safe, protected, and loved. The frightening part is when a teenager's need is so great, their view so twisted, that they see validity in the "protection and love" of a pimp rather than their own family.


  1. I can't imagine a life like that, but I think everyone should read that book to help us appreciate all that we have.

  2. That's sad, but it seems as if it is a book from which we can learn.


  3. Definitely a tense subject matter. I've never known kids who ran away, but I knew plenty who dealt with abuse/neglect with drugs, alcohol and sex. It's such a hard experience!
    I hope that she is feeling emotionally whole now.
    Thanks for sharing!

    1. There are plenty of these memoirs to go around, but this one was especially powerful.

  4. Sounds fascinating; I'm thinking she could be a success story and is off the streets now?


    1. Yes, Betty. She now helps girls like her get off the streets.