Shoved Into the Real World

Rewind to July 2003's Hard Candy.
  |  May 28, 2008
as told to Cecile F. Jusi
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Rosemarie Telan* had to close her school books just when she was about to graduate from high school and join the workforce to keep her family alive. She shares how she survived, and emerged a better person.

I became a grown-up at 16. When I was supposed to be just hanging out with my friends and not worrying about anything but school and crushes, I was looking for ways to pay the rent, the bills, and put food on the table.

It wasn't always like that, though. I had a relatively normal and happy childhood. My sister and I used to love dressing up our collection of Barbie dolls. On weekends, my dad almost always took my mom, my sister, and me to the movies or to a fastfood restaurant. My family was really close.

The highlight of my life at home was my library. It isn't like what you might be thinking. It was just three shelves in my corner of the room I shared with my sister. The shelves were crammed full with all the fantasy, sci-fi, and suspense books I loved. That corner was my sanctuary, the place I would retreat to from the noise and chaos of the world outside.

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