By Michael Kennon
Review by Dorothy Cox
Remembering vividly his own pain, shame and isolation as a runaway from age twelve to early adulthood, CEO Michael Kennon hopes his story will let the untold thousands of runaway children in the U.S. know that if he made it, they can too.
Kennon said his recently published book, “Memoirs of a Runaway: A Story of Hope,” (www.memoirsofarunaway.com), will let teens who have run away or who are contemplating it, know that there are other, better choices, available to them.
For parents and other concerned adults Kennon wants his book to serve as third-party resource material on the problem of young runaways, a problem some law enforcement authorities say is approaching epidemic proportions.
In addition to being a runaway himself, Kennon did months of research on runaways and found it “a very difficult statistic that 1 in 7 children between the ages of 10 and 18 will at some time attempt to run away.”
He knows from experience that “it’s hard to approach a troubled teen. They’re defiant and scared.”
A hyperactive and intelligent child, Kennon at age ten was profoundly affected by his father’s death. And when his mother remarried a few years later to a man with his own character defects, among them anger and violent acting out, the fireworks began.
To get away from his step-dad and the physical and verbal abuse, Kennon ran away with several friends who were older. The difference was that the others returned home, but Kennon didn’t. Not for very long at a time, anyway.
The book is told in a first-person narrative that moves along at a fast clip. “I wanted to tell a story,” said Kennon. “I’m not trying to convince or preach; I’m just telling my story so that they’ll [runaways] know there’s hope, that they do have a place in this world.”
“Unfortunately,” he said, “some of the young people out on the road end up being raped or sexually abused by adults … [and] their abusive backgrounds make them susceptible” to abuse.
Kennon learned that the hard way: he tells in the book about a trucker who gave him a ride and later made sexual advances to him. The man did back off when Kennon asked him to and eventually taught him how to drive an 18-wheeler.
It was a skill that Kennon, now the CEO of a trucking company, Kennon Transport LLC, has used throughout his life. Unfortunately, he also learned about drug addiction, hunger and fear during his time as a runaway.
While he was on the road Kennon said “separation from God was when I felt the lowest. I was always arguing with God; I prayed all the time, but I didn’t even know I believed in Him.”
He said during that time “I was lost in drugs and not taking care of myself; it was cumulatively pushing me in God’s direction” but it also “chipped away at my sense of worthiness. I finally had an epiphany when I realized I did believe [in God]” but it wasn’t one isolated life-changing event but “more of a process.”
Even when he returned home for good Kennon said he tended to run from his problems. He credits Jesus Christ with enabling him finally to change that behavior.
Kennon said he eventually forgave his physically and emotionally abusive step dad. “He didn’t mean to be abusive,” he said.
Kennon’s mom divorced his step dad in the mid ’80s. “We didn’t have any contact afterwards, but I made peace with him. I forgave him a long time ago; I realized he wasn’t the problem, I was.
“I was hyperactive, and he wasn’t about to allow a spoiled child [rule the household]. The physical abuse went away but the emotional abuse was very damaging.”
He would like runaways to know that “a strong belief [in God] and having faith can help you to find the answers and find purpose.”