Amazon.com Widgets
James Frey Official Website
Join the JAMES FREY mailing list
Click

The Troubled Teen Machine

from The New Yorker

The Shadow Penal System for Struggling Kids

By Rachel Aviv

In the spring of her freshman year of high school, in 2011, Emma Burris was woken at three in the morning. Someone had turned on the lights in her room. She was facing the wall and saw a man’s shadow. She reached for her cell phone, which she kept under her pillow at night, but it wasn’t there. The man, Shane Thompson, who is six and a half feet tall, wore a shirt with “Juvenile Transport Agent” printed on the back. He and a colleague instructed Emma to put on her clothes and follow them to their car. “She was very verbal, resisting,” Thompson told me. Her parents, who had adopted her when she was seven, stood by the doorway, watching silently.

Thompson drove Emma away from her house, in Royal Palm Beach, Florida, and merged onto the highway. Emma, who was fifteen, tried to remember every exit sign she passed, so that she could find her way home, but she was crying too hard to remember the names. In his notes, Thompson wrote, “Emma voiced that she was confused as to why her mom was sending her away.” She was on the track, volleyball, and soccer teams, and she didn’t want to miss any games.

Part Scottish and part Puerto Rican, Emma was slight, with long, wavy blond hair. Her parents, whose lives revolved around their church, admonished her for being aggressive toward them and for expressing her sexuality too freely. She watched lesbian pornography and had lost her virginity to an older boy. She often read romance novels late at night, when she was supposed to be asleep. To avoid attracting her parents’ attention, she used the light from the street to work on a novel that told a story similar to her own life: a young girl spends her early years in foster care, where she is abused, until a Christian family saves her. To keep the ending upbeat, she found herself straying from the facts of her life. Emma worried that her parents, who had three biological children, considered her a burden. “There was always a sense of exile,” Emma said. Her mother sometimes told her, “If I have to love you from a distance, I will.”

[ click to continue reading at TNY ]

Posted on October 18, 2021 by Editor

Filed under Culture Music Art, Weirdness | | No Comments »