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Heart Knows Something Different

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How well can a bureaucracy replace the family? For the more than 450,000 children living in foster care, this question is crucial. Yet, when the public tries to peer into this largely hidden world, administrators frequently invoke the need for "confidentiality." And the young people themselves - those who really know what foster care is like - are rarely heard. Now, for the first time, The Heart Knows Something Different gives them a voice. In well-crafted narratives that are remarkable for their candor, range of...
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Overview

How well can a bureaucracy replace the family? For the more than 450,000 children living in foster care, this question is crucial. Yet, when the public tries to peer into this largely hidden world, administrators frequently invoke the need for "confidentiality." And the young people themselves - those who really know what foster care is like - are rarely heard. Now, for the first time, The Heart Knows Something Different gives them a voice. In well-crafted narratives that are remarkable for their candor, range of experience, and hard-won insight, more than three dozen young writers (ages 15-20) provide an insider's view of growing up in "the system." In his Foreword, Jonathan Kozol writes, "The dominant theme in this book ... is the power of transcendent moral courage in so many of these young survivors ... [T]here is a special miracle at stake when affirmation of this sort is voiced by those who are surrounded by the symbols of destruction as they speak." Intimate and honest, The Heart Knows Something Different shows us, from the inside, looking out, the mix of pain and fear, and sometimes hope and happiness that the foster care experience involves.
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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Fiction Reprints
The ALAN Review - Nicholas J. Karolides
The voices are compelling. These teenagers reveal the nature of their lives by opening the shutters to their past - their family experiences with neglect, desertion, brutality, and death; life inside the system; efforts to define their identity. The concluding section focuses on their aspirations for the future. Deeply personal, the entries express the pain and dislocation of separation, the rage at the brutality visited upon them, the despair at not being cared for. Also portrayed are the coping and fortitude, the joy of finding acceptance, self-worth and love. The group and foster homes are revealed through their eyes. Some writers offer advice to the system's staff for improvements; many express gratitude to individuals. These writers speak to their peers, inside and outside, with words of encouragement and eloquence that emanate from the immediacy and sensitivity of their statements. This book offers rich grist for the mill of secondary school classroom and personal discussion. 1996, Persea Books,
School Library Journal
Gr 9 UpFor the teens who contributed to this volume, the journey to adulthood has been particularly arduous, because they are all participants in the foster-care system. The 57 essays are divided into four sections. The first deals with the individual situations responsible for a child's placement in foster care. Next come pieces on living in that system. The third section deals with self-awareness, and the last looks to the future. Some of the stories are told with humor, some with anger, and many with pain, but all resonate with unflinching honesty. Whether the teen is a runaway, an orphan to AIDS or drugs, or a victim of abuse, each has had to work through his or her own situation. What is clearly missing from all of the writings is any trace of self-pity, although many of the young people express regret or even remorse for their past lives. But a strong sense of individual purpose permeates the book and, according to the notes at the end of each essay, the contributors have been successful in turning their lives around. The problems and issues the writers express are universal, and their courage will touch the hearts of all.Marilyn Makowski, Greenwood High School, SC
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780892552153
  • Publisher: Persea Books
  • Publication date: 5/28/1996
  • Pages: 232
  • Age range: 13 years
  • Product dimensions: 6.31 (w) x 9.26 (h) x 0.99 (d)

Table of Contents

Foreword
Introduction
Questions Without Answers 3
Six Months on the Run from the BCW 9
My Foster Mother is My Best Friend 25
I Lost My Brother to Adoption 30
She'll Always Be My Mother 34
My Crew was My Family 39
Short Takes: Remembering Family 49
My Day in the Group Home 61
Finding a Father in the System 64
Sista on the Run (From the Past) 68
Why I'm Better Off in Foster Care 73
Can the Counselors Keep a Secret? 76
Making a New Family 78
Why Are You Doing This, Mr. Jones? 83
How I Became a Stronger Mother 93
Peer Pressure and Me 97
Kicked to the Curb at Twenty-One 100
My Group Home Scapegoat 105
A Three-Point Shooter 107
Short Takes: If I Ran Foster Care... 110
How I Lived a Double Life 121
Why No One Knows I'm a Foster Child 125
Keeping It on the Down Low 128
What They Say Behind Our Backs 131
Kicked Out Because I Was Gay 135
My Friend Marisol 139
Is Stealing My Addiction? 143
Phat Flows, Honeys, and the Booms 147
I'm the Mommy Now 151
Who's the Real "Problem Child"? 155
Short Takes: Who Will I Become? 157
From Fighter to Friend 167
Staying with the Hurt 171
My Family Secret 174
Therapy Changed My Life 180
How I Made Peace with the Past 185
Facing the Problem 190
A Loner in the Group Home 193
I Won't Abuse My Kids 197
Writing Taught Me About Myself 204
A Vacation from Mr. Hope 206
Glossary of Slang 215
Resources 218
Subject Guide 220
Acknowledgments 227
About Youth Communication 230
About the Editor 232
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