August 3, 2012

Book Review: Runaway Girl by Carissa Phelps

RUNAWAY GIRL: Escaping Life on the Streets, One Helping Hand at a Time
Author: Carissa Phelps with Larkin Warren
Genre: Memoir
Release Date: July 2012


An astonishing story of triumph and a fierce determination to give back.

Carissa Phelps was a runner. By twelve, she had run away from home, dropped out of school, and fled blindly into the arms of a brutal pimp, who made her walk the hard streets of central California. But 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. Miraculously, by the time Carissa turned thirty, she had accomplished the unimaginable, graduating from UCLA with both a law degree and an MBA. She had left the streets behind, yet her path would eventually draw her back, this time working to help homeless and at-risk youth find their own paths to a better life.

This is Carissa’s story, the tale of a girl who lost herself and survived, against all odds, through the generosity of strangers. It is an inspiring true story about finding the courage to run toward healing and summoning the strength to light the way for others.


Runaway Girl is a truly moving and uplifting memoir written by Carissa Phelps about her life as a runaway and the subsequent consequences it presented. The story of her childhood and teenage years is absolutely heartbreaking. She takes us through her early home life and what caused her to leave her home. By the tender age of twelve, Carissa had gone through more than most would in their entire lives. The amount of abuse and pain that she endured made me cry at times - my heart felt so deeply for her. 

Carissa's life takes an unexpected turn for the better after a teacher and counselor begin to show her true kindness and to nurture her back to a healthy state. The latter part of the memoir tells of what happened to Carissa after the help of these two people. She flourished in a remarkable way and has even been helping the homeless and at-risk youth. 

Runaway Girl is at times heartbreaking and at other times so filled with hope. It's written with such a conversational tone that it's an easy read, and the reader is easily pulled into her story. The book is exceptionally well written and had me engrossed from the first page. I deeply empathized with Carissa and was able to share both her deep pain and her exhilarating joy throughout the novel. Carissa's life story is one that everyone should read - it's full of the harsh realities of life that oftentimes get swept under the rug, but her amazing ability to better herself and eventually to help others is a true inspiration that is direly needed in our world today.


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