"Sunshine, you're my baby and I'm your only mother. You must mind the one taking care of you, but she's not your mama." Ashley Rhodes-Courter spent nine years of her life in fourteen different foster homes, living by those words. As her mother spirals out of control, Ashley is left clinging to an unpredictable, dissolving relationship, all the while getting pulled deeper and deeper into the foster care system.
Painful memories of being taken away from her home quickly become consumed by real-life horrors, where Ashley is juggled between caseworkers, shuffled from school to school, and forced to endure manipulative, humiliating treatment from a very abusive foster family. In this inspiring, unforgettable memoir, Ashley finds the courage to succeed - and in doing so, discovers the power of her own voice.
I felt as worthless as the junk in my trash bag . . . once again, I was the one being tossed out and thrown away.” Taken from her mother when she was scarcely four years old, Rhodes-Courter spent the next nine years in foster care with “more than a dozen so-called mothers.” “Some were kind,” she acknowledges, “a few were quirky and one . . . was as wicked as a fairy-tale witch.” She names names in this memoir, which is also a searing indictment of an often sadly deficient system of child care. Given her experiences, one can understand why she is angry and often bitter, but the unrelieved stridency of her tone makes for sometimes difficult reading. Nevertheless, she gives a voice to countless thousands of children who continue to be abused, abandoned, and ignored, and one hopes her book will make a positive difference in their lives. Grades 8-12. --Michael Cart