Three Challenges, One Powerful Book

As some of you know, I've decided to participate in a few reading challenges this year. One is called The Chain Reading Challenge, where I need to read one book and connect it to another and so on. After reading Markus Zusak's The Book Thief as my first title for this challenge, I needed to find a book that had some sort of connection to Zusak's book. I didn't want to simply read another Holocaust lit title, and Karin at The Book Jacket had suggested some possible threads I could follow. I decided to take up one of her ideas, which was to read about another orphan.

I've had Ashley Rhodes Courter's memoir Three Little Words sitting on my To Be Read shelf for some time now. I've wanted to read it, but always had some reason or another to put it off. Though Ashley was not an orphan, she was in foster care for much of her childhood. During her time in Florida's foster care program, she was subjected to abuse and neglect from foster parents and case managers. She is like the main character in The Book Thief in that she finds a home with caring parents, but she has to wait many years and is moved multiple times in this process.

This is a disturbing book because it is true. The Book Thief has lots of disturbing themes and images, but the plot is fictionalized. Three Little Words exposes the inadequacies and the outright negligence of the foster care system. Had Ashley had competent, caring case managers, she may not have had to endure the pain and unease that was her childhood. She never knew when she was going to be moved to another placement, or if she was ever going to see her mother again. She was often unable to take any of her possessions with her when she was moved. Most of the time, adults in her life gave no explanation at all as to where she was going and why she was being moved. Whenever she tried to advocate for herself, she was not listened to or called a liar.

This was an eye-opening book for me to read. I've worked with several students who were foster children or who were adopted. I feel like reading this book has given me some insight into the life of a child who is unsure that he or she will ever have a home. I definitely learned a lot from this book would recommend it to anyone who's interested in learning more about foster care. This book is available for check out at the back of the room.

**Also counts toward my participation in the To Be Read 2010 Challenge and the 2010 Young Adult Reading Challenge.