Torey Hayden is what I can only call a special ed teacher. At some less-politically-correct point in her career, she agreed to teach the "garbage class" (her words, not mine) that consisted of the abused, unteachable, unreachable kids. The class of eight students, a teacher's aide who lacked even a high school diploma, a high school student volunteer, and Torey made it through the first semester in decent shape. But in January, little Sheila joined them. She seemed to be more troubled and harder to reach than most and she set the class on its ears. But Torey made the effort to try to help this six-year-old child.
What a heart breaker. The five stars reflect the importance of the subject rather than the quality of the writing. The story is told in a straightforward manner and is very readable in and of itself, but it's really nothing special.* But this little girl. Oh my gosh, little Sheila. What a survivor. I work in a hospital that has one floor dedicated to psychiatric patients. It has always blown my mind that we have an area in there dedicated to pediatric (as in not-a-teenager) patients. The few times I've been called to do a test there, I've left wondering how such a young child can get so broken. Is it just a bad hand, genetically? Or has someone made the effort to break them? What could break these young children? I always stop my thinking there, not really wanting to know, wanting to stay safe in my middle-class sheltered existence. But One Child showed me what can happen to these kids. It was not by any means an emotionally easy read. It's left me quite disturbed. But it's so important. We're losing too many kids this way, and they all have a part to play in this world, no matter how small. We need books like this to remind us of what we take for granted, and to remind us to take the time to care. And to show us that there is hope. Because, ultimately, despite the heart break we go through, the book is about hope and healing. Highly, highly recommended.
Reviewed April 6, 2009
*When I wrote up there that "it's really nothing special," I meant the writing style. Gah. Old reviews. You never know what you're going to find in them.
Read an excerpt.
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Friday Flashback Reviews are a weekly feature here on The Introverted Reader. These are old reviews I wrote on GoodReads. Thanks to Angieville and her Retro Friday Reviews for the inspiration and encouragement!
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