Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Kara, Lost by Susan Niz

Susan Niz's Kara, Lost starts with Kara climbing out the window of her bedroom to run away.  Raised in a dysfunctional family, her parents have decided that she is either on drugs or has mental issues and are trying to force her to take medication she doesn't want to take.  Being sixteen, she can see no option except to run away and try to survive on her own.

Once on the streets, Kara discovers that life is even harder there than at home.  She expects to be able to live with her sister, but her sister's boyfriend is not interested in sharing their apartment.  She moves from situation to situation, counselors, acquaintances, always moving on when they can't provide what she needs. At one point, she is injured in an accident, hospitalized and her parents come to retrieve her, only to put her into a home for troubled teens. She learns to question the motives of those willing to help her.

But there are positive moves.  Kara finds a job and over the weeks, befriends the owners of the restaurant where she is a prized employee.  She is able to rent an apartment and furnish it with small items she is able to purchase.  Finally, she finds a way to start to finish her high school education so that she can move on to a successful adult life.

Susan Niz has written a haunting story of what life is like for runaways and throwaway teens on their own.  She chronicles the pitfalls and the difficulties that have to be negotiated, exploring all the usual vehicles of help and showing why they often do not work.  This book is recommended for parents, teens, and those interested in helping this population.

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