The Heart Knows Something Different: Teenage Voices from the Foster Care System


A New York Public Library "Books for the Teen Age" selection.
There are more than 450,000 children living in foster care. The Heart Knows Something Different collects over three dozen personal narratives by young writers, ages 15 to 20, and provides an insider's account of growing up in "the system." It takes us into a world largely hidden from public view, and attests to the mix of pain and fear, and ...

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A New York Public Library "Books for the Teen Age" selection.
There are more than 450,000 children living in foster care. The Heart Knows Something Different collects over three dozen personal narratives by young writers, ages 15 to 20, and provides an insider's account of growing up in "the system." It takes us into a world largely hidden from public view, and attests to the mix of pain and fear, and sometimes hope, and sometimes even happiness that the foster care experience involves.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Fiction Reprints
The ALAN Review - C. Anne Webb
An authentic voice is all one can say about this collection of forty-one articles by teenagers from the foster care system. Since 1991 a magazine titled Foster Care Youth United has published articles by teenagers in foster care. Some full of hate. Some full of hope. Some to make one cry. All give the uninitiated a true picture of foster care with the myths left behind. What could easily be a downer makes one cheer for the resilience and tenacity of these kids who did not ask to be born but now demand a right to be heard. The collection is divided into four sections: "Family," "Living in the System," "Who Am I," and "Looking to the Future." There is a foreword written by Jonathan Kozol, and a glossary of slang helps. Also provided are resources with addresses and phone numbers and a subject guide. Suggested for the reference shelf.
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: 9780892552184
  • Publisher: Persea Books
  • Publication date: 10/1/1996
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 256
  • Sales rank: 1,467,137
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 0.70 (d)

Table of Contents

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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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 19, 2000

    True Stories From Foster Kids

    When I learned that 70% of New York's homeless were once foster kids, I was shocked. I wanted to find out why and I picked up a novel called, The Heart Knows Something Different. The novel is a collection of short stories written by foster kids. These are the kids whose parents gave them up, the kids who were abused, the kids who thought that no one loved them. Autobiographical peices can be extremely powerful. After I read each story, I looked at the author's name and then flipped to the front of the novel to see his or her picture, the voice of the author became even stonger by doing this. Wunika Hicks, a typical foster child, said, 'I felt completely alone and helpless. I had tried so hard but I hadn't gotten anywhere. I didn't have anyone who understood me.' So now I have a better understanding of why 70% of New York's homeless were foster kids, I read their stories and felt their pain, I learned how poor the foster care system is and the horrible childhoods that many children live. I hope more people will read this novel, The Heart Knows Something Different, and we can work together to create a better life for these children.

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