A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this book.
Ashley tries to drug her adoptive parents so she can sneak out at night. The book details some of the worst behavior of which humans are capable, yet it is a story of hope: Ashley perseveres, works hard, and does well in school with no encouragement, and courageously brings legal action against those who abused her and the system that allowed it, and eventually becomes a successful author.
Violence & Scariness
Spousal and child abuse, including kicking and hitting with objects, stress positions, forced consumption of hot sauce, holding underwater, being forced to bathe in water with feces, starving, supergluing hands to walls. A grandfather is shot in front of his grandchild. Fighting among children, one throws acetone in another's face.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Children simulate sex with toys; a child watches graphic bondage porn on video, finds a condom, and dresses as a hooker for Halloween; mentions of sex abuse, rape, molestation of infants, pedophilia, castration, "making out."
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Plenty of swearing by both children and adults, including giving the finger and aggressive cursing: "F--k you," etc.
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Products & Purchases
Many products mentioned: toys, foods, fast food restaurants.
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
A parent makes, takes, and sells drugs. Drinking, drunkenness, drunk driving with a child in the car, smoking cigarettes.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that this is a true story filled with real-life horrors. While nothing is described graphically, it includes a variety of forms of child abuse and mistreatment; lots of sexual references, none of them healthy; swearing; drugs; alcohol; and acting out of psychological damage.
Is It Any Good?
The first half of this book is just disturbing and horrifying, the more so because readers know that it's true, and actually happened to the little girl in the pictures at the back. It's for teens only, and even they might wonder why they are reading something so miserable. But as a story, that first half perfectly sets up Rhodes-Courter's courageous battles and triumphant successes in the second half, leaving the readers feeling strongly connected to the author and deeply satisfied by her accomplishments.
The author spares no one, least of all herself, and in her plain, straightforward, unadorned prose her anger is palpable and fully justified. But her determination and strength of character prevent her from wallowing in blame and indignation, instead turning this into a story of hope and triumph as she rises from the ashes of her ruined childhood to become a best-selling author and spokesperson for the protection of foster and adopted children. If you can get through the harrowing first half, you will find yourself astonished and uplifted.
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Our Editors Recommend
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