Summary (Identities & Issues in Literature)
Based on the journals that Evelyn Lau kept, Runaway: Diary of a Street Kid chronicles her two-year experience as a young Chinese Canadian woman who left home because she could no longer stand her parents’ oppression of her desires to write poetry. She sought to be anything but an obsessively studious, meekly obedient model pupil. Runaway became Lau’s start in a successful career as a young writer.
After telling of her terrible life at home in a prologue, Lau’s autobiography opens on the first day after she ran away from home: March 22, 1988. Staying with friends at first, she attempts suicide on the day she is turned in to the authorities. Recovering at a mental hospital, Lau falls into Canada’s well-developed social safety net designed to rescue troubled teenagers.
For months, Lau tries to put distance between her old and new selves as she self-destructively experiments with drugs and sex. Twice she goes to the United States only to turn herself in to be shipped back home to Vancouver. She frustrates social workers and her two psychiatrists, who are unable to prevent her descent into teenage prostitution and drug abuse.
Throughout the chronicle of Lau’s ordeal, the reader becomes aware of her extremely low self-esteem and her self-loathing, which her parents’ perfectionist behavior has instilled in her. The reader almost cries out in despair at Lau’s inability to value herself, even as her budding...
(The entire section is 420 words.)
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