An award-winning journalist’s breathtaking mosaic of the tough-love industry and the young adults it inevitably fails.

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A New York Times 'Book to Watch For'

One of Newsweek's Most Highly Anticipated Books of 2021

Instant #1 New Release on Amazon

Next Big Idea Book Club Finalist

Vol.1 Brooklyn Book of the Month

In the middle of the night, they are vanished.

Each year thousands of young adults deemed out of control—suffering from depression, addiction, anxiety, and rage—are carted off against their will to remote wilderness programs and treatment facilities across the country. Desperate parents of these “troubled teens” fear it’s their only option. The private, largely unregulated behavioral boot camps break their children down, a damnation the children suffer forever.

Acclaimed journalist Kenneth R. Rosen knows firsthand the brutal emotional, physical, and sexual abuse carried out at these programs. He lived it. In Troubled, Rosen shares more than his experience of lockdown and its aftermath as he unspools the journeys of four graduates on their own scarred, faulted journey through the programs into adulthood.


Based on three years of reporting and more than one hundred interviews with other clients, their parents, psychologists, and health-care professionals, Troubled combines harrowing storytelling with investigative journalism to expose the disturbing truth about the massively profitable, sometimes fatal, grossly unchecked redirection industry.

Not without hope, Troubled ultimately delivers an emotional, crucial tapestry of coming of age, neglect, exploitation, trauma, and fraught redemption.

2021 tour & appearances

1/12 @ 7:30 - 14:20 ET


1/13 @ Noon ET

Jefferson Public Radio

1/13 @ 13:10 ET


1/14 @ 14:35 ET


1/15 @ 12:30 ET

Facebook Live with Kakkie Reynolds

1/19 @ 13:00 ET

New England News Collaborative

1/25 @ 11:00 ET

NPR's 1A

1/25 @ 19:00 ET

Harvard Bookstore

1/28 @ 18:00 ET

Bank Square Books

2/8 @ 18:00 CT

Family Action Network

“Not just a work of extended empathy but a public service; these life stories, taken together, shine a light on an industry that has been able to thrive in darkness." The New York Times Sunday Book Review


“A necessary exposé for any parent.” Kirkus Reviews

“Rosen is the exact right Conrad to take us into the heart of this immense darkness. Rosen’s insight, rigor, and immense sympathy ensure this book will stand as the definitive treatment of this troubled, troubling industry. An experience you won’t forget.”  —Darin Strauss, author of Half a Life and The Queen of Tuesday


Troubled is a searing chronicle of the unfortunate era of ‘tough love’ programs for wayward American youth, told with detail and compassion as well as an eloquent kind of well-merited rage.” —Luke Mogelson, contributing writer at The New Yorker  


“Profoundly unsettling, Troubled reveals a tough-love industry in disarray. Rosen combines brilliant reporting skills and brutal first-hand experience in this captivating read.” —Michael Harris, author of Solitude and The End of Absence


“Rosen is a relentless reporter and provides a piercing view inside the disturbing, largely unregulated, teen rehabilitation industry. Rosen ensures you ask the question of what we're doing to our nation’s children and who and what is in fact ‘troubled.’”   —Sylvia A. Harvey, author of The Shadow System


"A vivid and eye-opening plea for reform.” —Michael Scott Moore, author of The Desert and the Sea


“Rosen makes a powerful case for eliminating this cruel part of the school-to-prison pipeline. A powerful, revealing expose.” —Katherine Reynolds Lewis, author of The Good News About Bad Behavior​

coverage, excerpts, and reviews

Q&A: The Writer Taking on the “Troubled Teen” Industry (Narratively)

Review: Scared Straight or Scarred for Life? (New York Times Sunday Book Review)

Essay: When I Was Labeled a ‘Troubled’ Teen, I Obliged (New York Times)

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