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Christiane F: Autobiography of a Girl of the Streets and Heroin Addict Mass Market Paperback – 1982

4.9 out of 5 stars 18 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Mass Market Paperback
  • Publisher: Bantam; 1st edition (1982)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0553208977
  • ISBN-13: 978-0553208979
  • Product Dimensions: 6.8 x 4.2 x 0.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #445,841 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By L. Alper on April 17, 2004
I first read Christiane F over 20 years ago, & it's been re-read at least annually since then. This book is fascinating on so many levels.
For those unaware of the background of this book, in the mid 70's two young German journalists did a photo-essay of the teenage prostitutes (male & female) that hung out in a subway station in Berlin, the Baunhoff. The magazine that ran it (Stern) received such an outpouring from the public that the authors decided to expand the piece to book length; to do so, they chose to focus on one particular girl they had interviewed, Christiane. At the time of the interviews, Christiane was 15 & had already spent 2 years on the "Baby Line" in Berlin, as well as having been a heroin addict since 12. Ostensibly clean at the time, she is brutally honest in her description of the years in question.
Told in Christiane's own words with almost no interference from the authors (at least in the English translation), her story is revalatory on many counts. To an American reader, life in Berlin circa 1973-5 sounds wildly different from our own teens lives; legal adulthood is reached at the age of 14. School classes are jammed college-lecture style with as many as 100 young students per class, so teachers never have any direct contact with their charges. Life is lived in high-rise tenement blocks, where children playing outside in the concrete alleys have no chance to make it back to their flats to relieve themselves; the stairways are foul with the result. Young teens are never given a chance to develop intellectually, but are herded into vocational schools with no chance of a higher education. Etc, etc.
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I read this as a teen myself, 13, and saw the film. At that time, I found it cool in a dark way. Somehow, the descriptions of prostitution passed by me: maybe I didn't fully grasp and certainly could not imagine them. Even the film did not make an impact on me in this area. I was drawn to a kind of fascinating underworld. In the 90s, this became known as 'heroin chic'. Christiane was the original: the skinny jeans, the bone-thin body, dyed dark-red hair, the alleys, the club, the station... I wanted it all.

Now, re-reading it, I see the story of wasted lives: of Christiane's few close friends, Axel and Babsi died, Detlef wound up in jail and a menial job, Stella a ruined alcoholic. The book ends with Christiane clean and hopeful. Unfortunately her fame though this book left her dissatisfied with the quiet life as a bookseller's aprentice and she ended up with long hopeless years of addiction.

There are interviews to be found on the net from roughly 10 year intervals. 23, 33, 38, 42: she always denies her addiction but eventually the truth emerges. No job, jail-time, violent boyfriends, no friends or family contact. Her only joy was her son. She really seemed like she had a chance when he was born and photos show her clearly clean and glowing with happiness. She treated the boy very well and seemed to be at least caring for him or not herself. Suddenly, recent news says she took the boy away against social service orders and went to live in Amsterdam with a new boyfriend, a wanted con-man. She spent all day in bed drinking heavily and taking drugs. Eventually she had to admit she couldn't take care of the boy and returned him to Germany and gave him into Social Services care. My heart breaks for that boy and for her too.
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4 Comments 27 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
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I first saw this movie as a teenager. The horrors of the raw and gritty lifestyle Christiane F finds herself in were so glamorized in that era. The movie was not glamour, in fact it was my first real horrible look at life saturated in drugs. The move stuck with me so much that later in life, I had my own teenage son watch it. He had the same reaction. It was frightening. When I stumbled on the book, again later in life, I couldnt help but purchase it as we all know the books are much more detailed. Without fail, the book shocked me and saddened me, sickened me and terrified me. I sent a oopy to my son. If you are wanting to show yourself, your child, a friend, a family member the real side of a drug addiction, then this is the book and movie for you. If you have someone who is tempted by the lifestyle, then make sure they see or read this. When you finish this book, you are not done with her life....she will haunt you and you cannot help but wonder about her.
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This is a great book! I read it when I was about 14 yrs old and the graphic description of Christiane shooting-up gave me all the details to satisfy my curiosity about drugs that I never wanted to experiment with them and never did.
ALL teenagers, boys and girls, should read this book. It points out the downward road to self destruction many teenagers occasionally think about. It gives a teenagers a reality check, also when it comes to considering running away from home and all the crazy perverts "out there" that don't respect anyone, just want to use you and want to get in your pants when you are young, pretty, and inexperienced about life and the world.
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