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Finding Katie: The Diary of Anonymous, A Teenager in Foster Care
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Finding Katie: The Diary of Anonymous, A Teenager in Foster Care

3.8 14
by Beatrice Sparks

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Katie is always surrounded by wealth, but feels terribly alone because of the secret horror of her angry, abusive father. When she’s thrown out of her house and put into foster care, it seems like the end of the world.

But as she moves through the foster care system, she begins to realize that she can help others. Can she, at last, find courage and strength of


Katie is always surrounded by wealth, but feels terribly alone because of the secret horror of her angry, abusive father. When she’s thrown out of her house and put into foster care, it seems like the end of the world.

But as she moves through the foster care system, she begins to realize that she can help others. Can she, at last, find courage and strength of her own?

Editorial Reviews

From start to finish, this diary is literally unreal. Chock-full of melodrama, Katie's story has more holes in it than a woodpecker tree. Her father, a Hollywood mogul, alternates between buying her lavish gifts and getting drunk, then "grabbing me in a real hurting way." Mom is presumably a druggie but, like Dad, is a cardboard character who evokes wildly inconsistent feelings in her daughter. In a typically vague, pivotal scene, Katie's father takes her to a place where "People were . . . it wasn't really dancing. It was too obscene for words, and my beautiful dress was being torn to shreds." Katie swoons from the few sips she's had to drink, then blacks out. Dad calls Katie a "ho" and a "slut," hits her, and dumps her out on Skid Row. From there Katie goes to a Salvation Army shelter, then on to foster care, where she misses the "dear nuns" of her Catholic school days, and nurtures a young abused girl with miraculous results. The purple prose includes phrases like "my insides were gleefully dancing" and a poem by Katie that begins "Please stop dear tears / You're splashing in my ears." Brief information in the back relates to child abuse and crisis hotlines. Fans of other titles edited by Beatrice Sparks (e.g., Go Ask Alice) will find this to be more of the same. The short diary entries, fast pace, and easy vocabulary might appeal to reluctant readers, and it's innocent enough fare for middle school students. Otherwise, save your money. KLIATT Codes: JS—Recommended for junior and senior high school students. 2005, HarperCollins, 181p., Ages 12 to 18.
—Jessica Swaim
Children's Literature
A poor little rich girl, Katie has all the wealth but none of the power. She can't understand why her father beats her mother, but when he lovingly explains that he wants her mother to stop taking drugs and sometimes he is so angry, he just can't control himself, she makes herself believe that she does understand. She is so desperate for love, she wants to believe her father is just a hardworking guy who wishes his wife would take care of her daughter. Katie is pulled into the mire of her father's life until he discovers she has been sneaking out of the house. That's it. No more chances for Katie. Her father jerks her out of the pampered life and throws her into the streets of LA. Quickly moving from homeless shelter to foster care, Katie discovers another side of life—people who watch TV all day and care little for education; foster parents who take in kids for the money; foster parents who abuse children; and children who are so abused/neglected they are little more than vegetables. This is where the supposed diary becomes particularly unbelievable. Katie wants her foster sisters to have what she has had, particularly a good education, but they can not get that if they don't work for it. Therefore Katie turns on her magical powers, tutors and plays with her younger foster siblings, and turns their lives around. She does such a good job that they are all adopted into good homes, leaving Katie to start over with new younger sisters. All's well in the end when Katie herself is adopted by a single mom who cannot give her all the material wealth she had in the beginning, but can give her the love and support she needs to blossom. This story, told through Katie's diary, is not asplausible as Sparks would like us to believe. Several elements within the story raise questions concerning authenticity. In spite of these cautions, the book is eminently readable and the depiction of foster care is much too genuine for comfort. 2005, Avon/HarperCollins, Ages 14 to 18.
—Wendy M. Smith-D'Arezzo
School Library Journal
Gr 7-10-Fans of Go Ask Alice (S & S, 1971) and Dave Pelzer's A Child Called It (HCI, 1995) will be interested in this sensationalized autobiography written by a teen in dire straits. Katie is almost 16 when her diary begins. She is an only child, living on a private, gated estate near Hollywood. Her mother, a former beauty-pageant winner, was once attentive but now uses drugs and alcohol to dampen the psychological and physical pain of domestic violence. Her father, while violently abusing her mother, has always ignored Katie until he sees her in a two-piece bathing suit and begins showering her with gifts and inappropriate physical caresses. He becomes enraged when he finds out that Katie has seen a boy behind his back, and forces her, alone, onto the streets. Abandoned, she begins an odyssey from shelter to foster and group homes and, finally, to an adoptive mother. Teens will relate to Katie's lightning-quick mood changes, her idealism warring with depression, and her universal experiences with school and a first crush. They'll also get a glimpse into the lives of the enormously wealthy, followed by a look at life in truly hellish physical surroundings. Readers drawn to this account of lifelong emotional neglect and the resilience to withstand it won't mind the immature writing style, exclamation points and all, or the gaps in the narrative. A foreword explains the extent of abuse in the U.S., and brief information at the close includes toll-free crisis lines. If your library emphasizes popular materials, order multiple copies.-Faith Brautigam, Gail Borden Public Library, Elgin, IL Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.

Product Details

HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
4.18(w) x 6.75(h) x 0.48(d)
Age Range:
13 Years

Read an Excerpt

Finding Katie

The Diary of Anonymous, A Teenager in Foster Care
By Beatrice Sparks

HarperCollins Publishers, Inc.

Copyright © 2006 Beatrice Sparks
All right reserved.

ISBN: 0060507217

Chapter One

Friday, January 2

I heard Mama scream, and I jumped out of bed almost without waking up. As I tiptoed down the stairs, I could feel my heart beating so hard that it was almost like it was going to explode!

By the time I got to the bottom step, Mama was barely whimpering, and I could hear Daddy still pounding on her. Scared to death, I slowly cracked open Mama's bedroom door and peeked in. Mama was curled in a tight little ball, lying quietly on the floor. She looked like she was sleeping. A big wave of

pain almost washed me away into nothingness. I wanted to dash in and help Mama, but I didn't dare because I knew only too well . . . what Daddy might do then.

Daddy gave Mama another hard smack and staggered in my direction. I scrambled down the last step, hid in a dark corner trying not to breathe, and stayed there until I heard him zooming down the driveway, smashing into our big metal security gate on the way out.

Almost blinded by tears and fear, I crept beside Mama and patted her cheek, below her swollen eye. "It's okay, Mama," I whispered, "he's gone."

Mama whispered for me to go back to bed. I wanted to ask her about lots of things butI almost knew she wouldn't tell me.

Back in my room, I put my pillow over my head and tried to smother out her crying. It wasn't like any human sounds I'd ever heard before, more like animal sounds or scary movie evil wailings.

Feeling freezing cold to the marrow of my bones, I wondered what Daddy would do when he came back. Eventually he always came back.

Sometimes he was crying and repentant, bringing gifts and flowers and candy. But other times . . .

I feel like I'm lost! Lost in my own home! Lost in my own body! But mostly lost in my own mind. Will the real, true me ever be found?

When the blackness of night began turning into morning grayness, I heard Daddy's car coast slowly up the driveway.

Not knowing if he would be Dr. Jekyll or Mr. Hyde, I held my breath until . . . I guess I passed out or something. . . .

I felt like I had lain in my black, cold, never-never-land bed for forever. I was awakened by Daddy's "nice" voice, calling me "lazy bones" and telling me that I'd miss my school bus if I didn't scurry along.

I couldn't believe I'd fallen asleep, and more than that, I couldn't believe what had happened. Had it really happened? Maybe it hadn't!

Daddy gave me a pat on the head, told me Mama was still asleep, and said I should get Cook to fix me some breakfast.

All the way to school, I sat on the back seat of the van and wondered: Had it really happened? I was almost sure it had! Why wouldn't Mama talk to me about Daddy and his changing personalities? Or was it me?

It was probably me.

When I got home from school, Mama was like a zombie. All the curtains were closed in her huge bedroom, and only one tiny lamp was turned on. It was almost totally dark even though the sun was shining outside. I felt shivers go up and down my back and wondered if we'd all gone insane!

Time Stopped

I've become more hopelessly scared and confused than I've ever been in my life! And the physical pain through my whole body is almost unbearable.

Had I been dreaming? I begged Mama to tell me, but her eyes were glassy. I could hear my teeth chattering. Maybe Mama wasn't Mama anymore. Maybe I wasn't me!

I was so full of questions that I was about to explode, but I knew that whatever had taken over my Mama's body wouldn't give me any answers. She . . . it . . . never did.

For hours I must have sat stoically by Mama's bed. My mind racing from blank to horrible, unthinkable possibilities. Cook came and knocked at Mama's door, pleading for Mama to eat at least a little something. Mama told her to go away.

Late today, Daddy came home with a new fur coat for Mama, a leather jacket for me, and a huge box of See's candy. He acted as if last night had never happened.

I went to my room.

Eventually Mama dressed, and we sat down to dinner with candles burning and soft music playing in our huge dining room. It seats twenty-two people, and with just us sitting there it always feels empty. Daddy told us how much he loved us and what a happy family we were and how he would soon be starting the biggest and most sensational project in Hollywood. It sounded dazzling, but for some reason spooky.

In the middle of dinner Daddy's cell phone rang, and Mama and I both jumped up to turn off the music. He waved for us to go to the library.

In the library, even with a fire in the fireplace, Mom and I sat silent and frozen while our dinners got cold and our hearts got colder.

Eventually we heard Daddy walking down the hall toward us. He was laughing and joking on his cell phone about some business things, saying Mama couldn't accompany him to wherever tonight because "she wasn't feeling well." Then he walked past us and out the front door without even a good-bye.

I helped Mama to her room. She always tried to pretend she was a queen when she was around Daddy. I wanted to scream and jump up and down but I didn't dare . . . Mama might . . . who knew?


Excerpted from Finding Katie by Beatrice Sparks Copyright © 2006 by Beatrice Sparks. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Meet the Author

Beatrice Sparks is a family and adolescent therapist who edited the diary that formed the basis for Go Ask Alice, and has since edited many diaries on topics such as gangs, AIDS, and teen pregnancy in the 1988 Annie's Baby. She lives in Provo, UT.

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Finding Katie: The Diary of Anonymous, A Teenager in Foster Care 3.9 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 14 reviews.
nookworm7 More than 1 year ago
I work in the foster care field, and I thought this book was insightful, interesting, and very well written. I think other kids in care could relate to this story. I had a hard time putting this book down; it is that good.
ss360 More than 1 year ago
Finding Katie was an okay book.i mean it definetley wasn't great but wasn't horrible. to tell you the truth i wouldn't really recommend it to anyone. i have to say though the concept of the story was pretty good. but, what i didn't really like was the way the book was written and the way Beatrice sparks made the characters. i felt that she didnt really portray the characters that well. for example the main character, katie was 16 but when i was reading the book i felt like katie was a twelve year old.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book was good. It is worth reading but I almost felt like there was something missing I just don't know what. It is still a great book but for some reason I sort of feel like there should've been more. It is a good summer read.
Guest More than 1 year ago
At first, I picked this book off the shelf becaus ehte title included my name. HOwever, as I began to read I relized how good the book actually was. recomend this book to ANYONE and EVERYONE. This really tells the truth about s lives, abuse, anf foster care.
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Guest More than 1 year ago
I've read almost all of Beatrice Sparks' novels, and I must say that this one was not one of my favorites. In my opinion, Katie isn't believable. She's too innocent and prim and proper, and I don't know any teenager who would act like that. The story itself was really good, but I think Katie's character ruined it. And plus, she never wanted to write about anything. Who wants to read a book about a girl complaining that she doesn't want to talk about anything?
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book had a great concept and parts of it were very interesting to read. But to me Katie seemed a little too....like the stereotype of a Catholic school girl, always worrying about what she says and thinks. I go to Catholic school and wouldn have no problem cursing you off if I had too. I think if the character was a little more believable then I would have enjoyed it more.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I think almost everybody would like this book it is about a girl who has a messed up life and then it becomes good. But then she gose in to foster care.
Guest More than 1 year ago
this book was so good! i could not put it down. i read it in two days! this book is sad and it really makes you think what kind of people are out there. i loved it and you should read it!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
:'( ;)