Miles From Nowhere
Riverhead, Jan 2 2009, $21.95
In the 1980s her father abandoned twelve years old Korean-American Joon-Mee and her mother; he was unable to cope with the increased craziness of his wife and still held her culpable for their leaving their country four years earlier. When her mom turns even more helpless with her midnight hole digging activity and is in denial that everything is messed up except for the humiliation and economic disaster, Joon-Mee flees the Bronx for Manhattan. The runaway becomes a hooker and escort.
Soon heroin becomes part of the repertoire. She makes friends on the streets, but understands the code that no one has your back although male prostitute Wink mentors her on surviving the “Johns, the homeless, and the competitors. Benny, who has a regular job as an orderly, is nice to her when he is not too high; when he is he can be a nasty cutter. Life on the street is rough and fast with even the strong ultimately unable to survive.
This is not an easy read, but is an extremely deep look at life for a runaway young teen. The story line mostly focuses on Joon-Mee but also enables the reader to see how her mentor Knowledge and others survive at shelters and on the meanest streets. This is cutthroat capitalism at its purest; just like the extreme right wing envision Readers will be stunned with the graphic details of survival in an urban jungle in which your stalking predator may be sleeping in the cot next too or may be your latest John.