Ronald Hunter’s memoir recounts the story of a boy who is forced into child prostitution but ultimately refuses to let the brutal circumstances of his youth define him.
Ronnie’s father dies when he’s 6 years old, and his mother, who suffers mental illness, is unable to care for him. After a stint in group homes and an orphanage, he’s allowed visits with his mother. During these visits, Ronnie meets Charlie, a man considered respectable due to his relationship with the Boy Scouts and as a neighborhood sports coach. Other kids are wary of Charlie, but Charlie’s gifts and inclusion of Ronnie in sports lure him in. By the time Ronnie is 12, Charlie is forcing him to have sex with him and shortly after, to work the streets.
When Ronnie – now Angel to clients – doesn’t meet Charlie’s demands, he’s beaten. Ronnie feels trapped: If Ronnie tells anyone about the abuse, “He will tell my family … I am a faggot… [and] my friends at our Boy Scouts Troop that I am a street whore.” He also threatens to inform his mother’s doctors that she should be in a mental institution. Oddly enough, Ronnie’s salvation comes from two men who are pedophiles but genuinely care for the boy.
This is a gripping, candid tale, unavoidably difficult by its nature, but never gratuitous in detail and with an uplifting outcome. It’s a story of hope, endurance, and even love, albeit illicit and, some would say, unconscionable. While there are occasional shifts in tense (past to present) and some incomplete plot lines (how did Ronnie meet a certain character; what became of others?), these are minor issues, unlikely to deter most readers.
Hunter’s story will engage a wide audience, from victims needing hope, to professionals seeking insight, to anyone looking for an engrossing read. The author is to be commended for sharing a painful tale that might well serve as a beacon of hope for others.
Also available in hardcover and ebook.