Carissa Phelps with Larkin Warren
Escaping Life on the Streets, One Helping Hand at a Time
Viking, 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.
“Sometimes a book shines in its ability, as Joyce Carol Oates puts it, to make us "slip, involuntarily, often helplessly, into another's skin ... another's soul." Such was my reading experience of RUNAWAY GIRL, by Carissa Phelps”—Chitra Divakaruni, San Francisco Chronicle