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My Name Is Angel: A Traumatic True Story of Escaping the Streets and Building a New Life [Paperback]

Rhea Coombs
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
RRP: 7.99
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Book Description

9 Aug 2007

This moving memoir tells the story of how a young woman descended into the world of prostitution and drug abuse, yet found the strength to rebuild her life.

Rhea Coombs's father is a convicted murderer and she grew up with a hippy mother who constantly moved house and lived in a succession of squats and communes before settling in Bristol. It was in Bristol that Rhea had her first introduction to drugs, pimps and prostitution. Pregnant at sixteen, she escaped to London and mixed with gangsters in seedy Soho nightclubs, eventually becoming addicted to crack and heroin and running a crack house. Rhea was forced to give up her children, but she never stopped loving them and through her strength and courage was finally able to escape for the world of drugs and prostitution, and regain custody of her children. This is her remarkable story.

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My Name Is Angel: A Traumatic True Story of Escaping the Streets and Building a New Life + Wasted + Once an Addict: The Fascinating True Story of One Man's Escape from the Murky Drugs Underworld
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Product details

  • Paperback: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Virgin Books (9 Aug 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0753512386
  • ISBN-13: 978-0753512388
  • Product Dimensions: 19.4 x 13 x 1.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 391,922 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

Book Description

One woman's story of prostitution, drugs and finding the courage to escape

From the Back Cover

One woman's story of escape from drug addiction, prostitution and abuse to a new life

Raised by a bohemian mother in a succession of squats and communes, Rhea Coombs never felt she truly belonged anywhere. Her feeling of isolation only intensified in her teens when she became involved in drugs and prostitution. Then, at just sixteen, Rhea found herself pregnant and fled to London to escape her abusive partner. Within a few years she was using crack heavily and was forced to give up her children.

With her children gone, Rhea became trapped in a world of drugs and prostitution, finally ending up running a crack house. Through it all she never stopped loving her children. This is the shocking yet moving story of how Rhea survived in the underworld and escaped to rebuild her life, regain custody of her children, and begin to help others.

Rhea Coombs has stopped using drugs and selling sex, and now works for a church-based charity in London that helps disadvantaged people, including women involved in prostitution. Rhea's son is sixteen, and her daughter is nine years old.

Diane Taylor is a freelance journalist living in London. This is her second book.

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Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
4.6 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
22 of 22 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars fantastic inspiring read 26 Dec 2007
HIGHLY RECOMMENDED. One of the best autobiographies I have read all year. Beautifully written, fast paced and easy to follow - a real page turner.

This book deals with crack and heroin addiction and Rhea Coombs does not hide the true facts at how terrible and soul destroying an addict's life is. Rhea was not only an adict but a dealer as well and you can imagine the kind of people she dealt with. Rhea does not hide the fact that she turned to prostitution to pay for her drug habit and her memories of this time are truly heartbreaking. You feel genuine sorrow for the author when she describes the time she ran away from a relative's car and hid in the bushes when she realised her son was sitting in the back, she couldn't bear her son to see her in such a state.

Rhea should be applauded for her strength of character and sheer determination in tackling her withdrawal of drugs, She succeeded where many fail.

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40 of 42 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A powerful account of street life. 29 Jan 2007
Rhea Coombs' story is an honest and real account of life as a street sex worker. Rhea describes her disrupted childhood and the craving for love and acceptance which led her into exploitative relationships with violent and abusive men. The story then starts to focus on her drug addiction and experiences of prostitution. Rhea exposes holes in a system, which by criminalizing street prostitution, just pushes those who are most vulnerable underground. Luckliy she had the strength to move away from this world and is now an accomplished women's worker in her own right, assisting the very women she used to sex work alongside.

Throughout the book I found Rhea to be incredibly fair and gracious towards others involved in her life, something you don't often encounter in books of this nature. She takes responsibility for her actions and does not allocate blame; even to those who consistently let her down and sometimes abused her in the most terrible ways.

The book is well written, brave, interesting and ultimately inspiring. It will be enjoyed by fans of gritty, true life stories but should also be read by drugs workers, social workers, magistrates, court officials, politicians, those studying women's issues and anyone else who may come into contact with women involved in street based prostitution.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Put this on the school curriculum 11 Jan 2008
There are many lessons to be learned in the extraordinary book, I feel its honesty highlight the traps of addictions and violent relatioships that draw people in again and again. I think, if done well, it would make an amazing teenage television drama series. The only trouble is, it's so harrowing in places, would you really want to expose teenagers to the fact that some peoles lives can be so wretched at times. Quite amazing, I can't recommend it highly enough, although it did make me very angry at times to see how humans can treat one another.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An insight into a drug addicts lifestyle 28 Sep 2007
I agree Niki Tapp's review. A moving and thought provoking book. Helps you understand the mindset of drug addicts. I am glad Rhea finally sorted her life out.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Harowing, tragic but ultimately uplifting 28 Feb 2014
A fascinating but at the same time harrowing page turner about life for drug addicts and prostitutes marginalized in society
Rhea Coombs in this tragic, heartbreaking, shocking but ultimately uplifting real life account tells of her life as the child of as hippy mother who longed for normality. And how her feelings of isolation led her into the world of crack and heroin addiction, a series of abusive relationships , and ultimately selling her own body to survive and score the drugs that became what seemed to be the only thing that could make life bearable for her.

She tells of her own torment and addiction, her rock bottom feelings of low self-worth, the ruthless dealing of the drug world and of the danger and suffering endured by prostitutes
Ultimately it was her love for her children and the discovery of a great strength in her soul that brought her though to completely drugs, leave the world of prostitution, reclaim her place in society . she works for a London based charity helping disadvantaged people including women involved in prostitution. In addition to have written this valuable highly recommended book that gives a glimpse into the lives of people addicted to drugs and women involved in prostitution.
She condemns the cruel and archaic laws criminalizing prostitution making the point that this only drives these women deeper underground and make it less possible for them to work away from this life. She points out that 'what is certain is that any woman who finds herself involved in prostitution out of desperate economic necessity or another has aright to be safe and protected and to have realistic exit routes out of prostitution.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Mind-Boggling 30 Jan 2008
Some of you may remember a book named 'Go Ask Alice', the diary of a teenage girl growing up in the 1960's, and her descent into a life of drugs and promiscuity. That was a grim read, but even that pales next to this, the life story of a woman who was addicted to Heroin and Crack, and worked as a prostitute in order to fund these addictions.

Angel's depression began in childhood, yet her childhood was not unpleasant, but unconventional. Her hippy mother would move from pillar to post, taking Angel with her. During these times, Angel would be exposed to 'soft' drugs such as Cannabis, and a couple of hallucinogens, but no addictive ones.

It was around the time of going to high school that Angel began smoking Cannabis heavily, and at the age of only fourteen, became involved with a man who encouraged her to prostitute herself, which she then did.

A very rapid downward slide follows; as the reader travels with Angel through some of the most horrifying experiences and hopelessness one could possibly imagine. Several destructive relationships are described, along with the birth of her son, and a relationship with a man who endangers the life of her son in unspeakably violent ways. At which point I felt two things towards Angel: firstly anger, that any woman could tolerate anyone harming their child in such a disgraceful way, and secondly, incredible sympathy, that any Mother should have to stand and watch their own son being physically abused.

Angel eventually flees from this relationship, has a daughter, and eventually befriends a crack addict who introduces her to crack. Angel becomes a Crack addict, and decides to hand the children over to their father and Grandmother, since she fears letting her children down.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
Published 7 days ago by sonia ann dunkley
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Is a great book. I enjoyed it.
Published 2 months ago by birgit bateson
5.0 out of 5 stars Great read.
Great book. I was lured due to the fact the author is from the same area as me and ive probably seen her before. Read more
Published 8 months ago by Gem-Sta
4.0 out of 5 stars angel
I liked this book one of those books you cant put down and when you do, you cant wait to pick it up again
Published 9 months ago by mad hat55
5.0 out of 5 stars Books
Love reading and more so true to life, it is a very well written book and would recommend it to anyone who likes true to life
Published 11 months ago by Gina Cronin
5.0 out of 5 stars Great book
Angel the main character opens up bravely of her account, with drugs, prostitution and her yearning desire to turn her life around for the sake of her children. Read more
Published 11 months ago by emma
5.0 out of 5 stars good
i brought this as a gift and the person who has it has said they have enjoyed it so thats all i care about but was happy with it when it came so quick
Published 19 months ago by DAWN
This is basicly the life of a drug addict,one that refused help for many years.
This is certainly intersting enough to read in that it's well written,but a lot of it made me... Read more
Published on 3 Sep 2012 by BAZ316
3.0 out of 5 stars my name is angel
this is a very slow book to get in to i`ve been trying for 2weeks now trying with all the other books i`ve read i`ve been able to get in to them straight away and in most cases not... Read more
Published on 4 Mar 2011 by tasha
4.0 out of 5 stars A brilliant insight into the shockingly harrowing life of a crack...
Rhea had an unconventional unsettled hippy childhood, was a rebellious teenager and soon turned to taking drugs. Read more
Published on 11 Feb 2011 by Chelli
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