December 14, 1981 12:00 PM

by Trudee Able-Peterson

In her first book, Trudee Able-Peterson, 37, a onetime prostitute and heavy drug user, writes with knowing compassion about the runaway teenagers she now counsels in a crisis center near New York’s seamy Times Square. Although many of these children of the evening are under 15, they hustle in the streets or in nude dance palaces, victims of pimps and drug habits. They drop in and out of Able-Peterson’s life, sometimes making progress but more often returning to the one career they know, since the crisis center lacks funding for long-range rehabilitation. The lives and premature deaths of Trudee’s runaways read like a horrifying novel, as does the author’s candid account of her own experience before she pulled herself back from the brink five years ago. Yet somehow, after experiencing the worst the world can offer, Trudee retains a kind of upbeat wisdom. Though her book will frighten you, it won’t make you lose hope. (Putnam’s, $12.95)

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