It was hard to read this book and not become angry. Angry at the system, the parents that hadn’t protected their child, and angry at those men who saw a small pre-pubescent girl and used her for their own gain. As I read, I fought down the frightening inclination of seeing this girl as my daughter, or any of the young girls whom I know and love. Parental irresponsibility in these cases isn’t uncommon, but I loathed her parents. How could someone see their daughter in this situation and never lift a finger unless it was to call the authorities to take her away. It was reprehensible. Carissa reveals that she hasn’t yet learned how to forgive her parents, especially her mother, who throughout the book seemed almost robotically unemotional. Her parents’ negligence and incompetence put this very young girl in the path of some seriously bad people, and for that, I believe that forgiveness is not an option.
Carissa admits early on that she was gambling with her life and freedom, looking for a good time and someone to love her. The fact that she was only twelve when she began running away prevented her from realizing the potential dangers that lurked around every corner. It was amazing to me how many men (and women) were eager to exploit this young girl, and this made me very, very afraid, having a daughter who’s just on the cusp of womanhood. The likelihood of Carissa getting out of these situations was very slim, but when help came, she didn’t want it. Help came with strings attached, and often the rules were simply too hard for her to follow. So, she would run again and again, looking for the affection and attention that she never experienced at home.
When Carissa ended up in a locked facility, she came to the attention of a man who knew that she was special and not cut out for life on the streets. She had promise and potential, and by giving her encouragement and advice, Carissa came to trust him, and by some miracle, she also let others in. She had a great mind, and coupled with a sense of pervasive and deeply personal integrity, she took a higher path and started reconstructing her life into something that she could not only be proud of, but that could be of assistance to other children in the same situation.
This book was blunt and brutal at times, and could easily shock the senses of the average reader. But please don’t let that stop you from reading it, because Carissa’s story is one of hope and regeneration, and proves that even the most meager of lives can become a model of wisdom, encouragement and care. If ever there was a book to show you how a life can be turned around, this is that book. Sad and haunting, yes, but uplifting and courageous as well. This is a story you will never forget.
If you would like the chance to experience Carissa’s story for yourself, please enter my giveaway for a copy of this inspiring and deeply personal book. Two winners will be chosen at random. Giveaway is open to U.S. residents only.
This book was provided as a complimentary review copy.