At age 12, after years of chaotic home life, Carissa Phelps was abandoned by her mother at juvenile hall in Fresno, Calif. A series of group homes and state facilities followed, along with time on the streets; finally, she was forced into prostitution by a brutal pimp. By 13 she'd given up. She was hopeless, facing prison or an early death, until a teacher and a counselor intervened. At 15, Carissa began to make plans for her future. By the time she'd turned 30, she had graduated from UCLA with a law degree and an MBA. She wrote Runaway Girl: Escaping Life on the Streets One Helping Hand at a Time (Viking, July 5, 2012) to give a voice to those who may not have an audience.
On your nightstand now:
The Holy Bible, along with The Holy Longing: The Search for a Christian Spirituality by Ronald Rolheiser, and Streams in the Desert by Mrs. Charles Cowman follows me around the house.
Favorite books when you were a child:
Are You My Mother by P.D. Eastman. It was the first book I read that had emotional depth. It wasn't like other stories. I could feel the innocence, the longing and the sincerity of the little bird's search. I also loved The Poky Little Puppy by Janette Lowrey, mostly for the illustrations by Gustaf Tenggren. Poky is still the cutest puppy ever drawn.
Your top five authors:
Anne Lamott, for her honesty. Isabelle Allende, for her ability to create connection between characters. Thich Nhat Hanh, for his straightforward spiritual practice, Apostle Paul for the same. And Chelsea Handler for allowing me to LMAO.
Book you've faked reading:
Black Beauty. I was about 10 years old and it was for an assignment. I would start reading at night and fall asleep after about three page turns. I finished about half of the book before having to skip around and rush through my one page report.
Book you're an evangelist for:
The Drama of the Gifted Child: The Search for the True Self by Alice Miller.
Book you've bought for the cover:
LIFE: Dream Destinations (2008); it's a magazine book and I bought it for all the pictures.
Book that changed your life:
The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry.
Favorite line from a book:
"Experience has taught us that we have only one enduring weapon in our struggle against mental illness: the emotional discovery and emotional acceptance of the truth in the individual and unique history of our childhood."
--Alice Miller, The Drama of the Gifted Child: The Search for the True Self
Book you most want to read again for the first time:
The Artist's Way by Julia Cameron. I've bought three copies of this book. Every time I read it and do the exercises I think: "Why haven't I tried this?" If it were my first read, then I would have a legitimate excuse.