Thursday, July 10, 2008


Three Little Words, Ashley Rhodes-Courter, Atheneum, 2008, 297 pp

One day at work, business was slow and I was there alone. I was looking through the Young Adult shelves and came across this memoir of a foster child who finally got adopted. I read anything I find on this topic as research for the novel I am not writing. By the time I went to bed that night I had finished the book.

The story takes place in South Carolina and Florida, where Ashley lived with her single mom and brother, later with her maternal grandmother and then in a long succession of foster homes. As usual, it is a heart wrenching tale of loss, neglect, sometimes abuse; of bureaucratic inefficiency and heartlessness, sometimes corruption.

Finally after nine years in fourteen different foster home, Ashley is adopted and has to work through lots of issues like trust, eating and accepting a new mother. She makes it. The new mother is novelist Gay Courter. I read and loved two of her novels in the 1990s: Flowers in the Blood and The Midwife. Gay Courter was instrumental in helping Ashley write her memoir and it is well written. They are both advocates for children who are lost in our failed foster care system.

I fully realize that this is a naive question with no easy answers, but how can the wealthiest nation in the world have so much poverty, messed up health care and so many children who are left adrift in our society? Lest we become complacent or over-confident, books like this should be required reading for all citizens.

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