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Posted April 27, 2013
Having been in an orphanage, a juvenile detention center, state psychiatric hospital, and juvenile reformatory, I know what it's like to feel abandoned and persecuted. I described these personal experiences and their emotional impact in "Saving the Schizo Kid" and "The Other Side of Delinquency". The pain is a corrosive, steady dripping of battery acid on one’s soul. Through the eyes of Billy Stone, the hero of State Kid, we readers learn about the child welfare system’s lack of sensitivity and understanding. We see its cruelty. We feel just what it's like to grow up in the care of strangers. Abandoned by a cruel and morbidly selfish mother to a dysfunctional and self-serving foster care system, Billy is moved about from one uncaring foster family to another until, at the tender age of 15, he is falsely accused of a sexual crime. He literally runs for his life and ends up in juvenile prison. But Billy Stone refuses to be a victim. He uses his ability to put his case in writing before the powers-that-be both inside and outside the prison. With writing, he fights for himself and the rights of the other young inmates -- and wins. Perhaps because of my own experiences in the child welfare system, I identify with Billy Stone and celebrate his victory. Billy Stone (or should I say George Pollock) truly is a hero of literacy!