A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What 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.
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
In the first half, author Ashley Rhodes-Courter describes her childhood in the foster-care system: After being taken away from her mother at age three, she endures fourteen foster homes in nine years, including one that was seriously abusive. In the second half she details her adoption and subsequent struggles to adapt, overcome her distrust, and feel like she belongs with her new family, as well as her legal battles with the abusive foster parents and the state system that looked the other way.
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.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about how Ashley came out of this gruesome childhood intact and excelling. What enabled her to succeed when so many others are lost?
Why so you think Ashley's story got media attention?
What do you know about teh foster care system? What did you learn about it from this book?