Three Little Words: A Memoir

( 110 )

Overview

"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 ...

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Overview

"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.

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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble
Barnes & Noble Discover Great New Writers
"I guess so." With these three little words, Rhodes-Courter, age 12, agreed to be adopted and became part of a new family. Gay and Phil Courter had raised two sons, but after surviving a harrowing plane crash, they decided to do more with their lives. What they took on was a deeply mistrusting, angry young girl who'd been removed from her drug-abusing mother at age three and spent the next nine years shuttled from one overcrowded foster home to the next. Beaten, starved, forced to squat for long periods and run laps in the hot Florida sun without water, she had watched helplessly as her little brother was forced to endure the same ill treatment.

Ashley lashed out at the Courters, hoping to preempt their rejection. What she received in response was patience, love, acceptance, and honesty. Hers is a success story that's sure to elicit tears and cheers in equal parts, but as Three Little Words attests, there's no celebrating to be done yet. Many other children were not so lucky, and the foster parents and other so-called caregivers who milk the system for profit while abusing or neglecting their charges are rarely held accountable. The foster care system is a national disgrace, but it's possible for us to make a difference. This book -- though difficult reading at times -- offers an eye-opening and courageous account by a true survivor who wants to make a difference. (Spring 2008 Selection)
Publishers Weekly

In this engrossing memoir, college senior Rhodes-Courter chronicles her hardscrabble childhood in foster care, detailing glitches in the system and infringements of laws that led to a string of unsuitable-and sometimes nightmarish-placements for her and her younger half-brother, Luke. Using a matter-of-fact tone at times laced with bitterness, the author recounts how she was wrenched away from her teenage mother at age three and was later removed from her unstable grandfather's home to live in cramped quarters with strangers. She acknowledges that there may have been legitimate reasons for her and Luke's placement in foster care but pointedly criticizes the manner in which she was repeatedly uprooted. She also blames the ineptitude of social workers who, more often than not, acted as advocates for foster parents rather than the children they were assigned to protect. The girl's frequent moves and sporadic mental and physical abuse left emotional scars that affected her even after she was adopted by a loving family (the "three little words" that change her life are her guarded consent to legal adoption, "I guess so"). The author's ability to form intelligent, open-minded conclusions about her traumatic childhood demonstrates her remarkable control and insight, and although there are plenty of wrenching moments, she succeeds not in attracting pity but in her stated intention, of drawing attention to the children who currently share the plight that she herself overcame. Ages 14-up. (Jan.)

Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information
Children's Literature - Paula McMillen
This is indeed a memoir, pieced together from personal memories, scavenged photographs, recollections of relatives, and piles of state documents. It is also a powerful indictment of the worst failings of the systems that are charged with protecting our most precious resource—our nation's children. Taken from her mother at three years old and adopted at age 12, Ashley tells a nearly unbelievable tale of foster care personnel who repeatedly violated protocols for checking on children in their care, ignored charges of abuse and even doctored documents, all to the detriment of the children in the foster care system. This is a very personal and vulnerable tale that will touch teens and adults alike. Ashley continues to hold out hope that she will be reunited with her birth mother as she is shuffled, sometimes with her younger brother and sometimes separately, from one placement to another—more than a dozen over the course of nine years. The "three little words" of the title are not the ones you expect, but are the ones that change her life, finally, for the better. What is perhaps most remarkable about this book is that Ashley eventually triumphs, thanks to the help of a dedicated guardian ad litem and her adoptive parents. She becomes a crusader to hold the guilty accountable and to give voice to all the children who feel they have been lost in the system. This is a book that can help readers to better understand the challenges that children in foster care may face and can serve to promote belief in and strategies for self-empowerment. Reviewer: Paula McMillen, Ph.D.
School Library Journal

Gr 8 Up
Rhodes-Courter was three years old when she and her younger brother, Luke, were removed from their mother. She spent the next 9 years in 14 different foster placements. Some caregivers were nurturing, others indifferent or negligent. Marjorie and Charles Moss were terribly abusive. The author, who was intermittently placed with Luke, continuously dreamt of a happy ending with her mother until the state permanently terminated all parental rights. Eventually, she found a loving home, and her adoptive parents supported her involvement in legal action against the Mosses. Rhodes-Courter tells her story in understated prose, and she is honest about her mistakes. For example, she unflinchingly recounts how she tried to drug the Courters so she could sneak out with a friend. She also struggled to balance her desire to protect Luke with her life in a separate adoptive family. Quiet scenes cut deepest: the author's description of her only after-school visit to a friend's home lingers heartbreakingly in one's mind. This gifted young writer's moving and eye-opening story will especially appeal to fans of Jeannette Walls's The Glass Castle (S & S, 2005) and David Pelzer's autobiographical books. Like those books, Words contains some troubling scenes, particularly one in which the author watches a violent pornographic video left in a VCR by a foster parent. This memoir lends a powerful voice to thousands of "boomerang kids" who repeatedly wind up back in foster care.
—Amy PickettCopyright 2006 Reed Business Information.

From the Publisher
"Ashley Rhodes-Courter is triumphant in her quest to overcome insurmountable odds. I celebrate her courage to seek out the best in humanity in spite of its failings." - Victoria Rowell, New York Times bestselling author of The Women Who Raised Me: A Memoir

"Nine years in the foster care system could ruin a kid. But [Ashley] not only survived, she's thrived." -Teen People

"The author's ability to form intelligent, open-minded conclusions about her traumatic childhood demonstrates her remarkable control and insight, and although there are plenty of wrenching moments, she succeeds not in attracting pity but in her stated intention, of drawing attention to the children who currently share the plight that she herself overcame." —Publishers Weekly

"Quiet scenes cut deepest: the author's description of her only after-school visit to a friend's home lingers heartbreakingly in one's mind. This gifted young writer's moving and eye-opening story will especially appeal to fans of Jeannette Walls's The Glass Castle and David Pelzer's autobiographical books." —School Library Journal

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781416948070
  • Publisher: Atheneum Books for Young Readers
  • Publication date: 5/5/2009
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 336
  • Sales rank: 63,871
  • Age range: 14 - 17 Years
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 8.20 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

Ashley Rhodes-Courter wrote this book as a way to piece together the puzzle of her past and also to thank those who step up for child welfare issues every day. An advocate for adoption and foster care reform, twenty-three-year-old Ashley has been featured in Teen People, Glamour, and USA TODAY. This memoir began as an essay, also titled “Three Little Words,” which won a writing contest for students and ran in New York Times Magazine. Ashley lives in Florida and is a recent graduate from Eckerd College.

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Read an Excerpt

1.

the day they stole my mother from me

Two days compete for the worst day in my life: The first is the day I was taken from my mother; the second is the day I arrived at the Mosses' foster home four years later. Three weeks before I lost my mother, I had left South Carolina bound for Florida with her, her husband, and my brother. I was three and a half years old and remember lying on the backseat watching slippery raindrops making patterns as they plopped down the car's windows.

My infant brother, Luke, was in a car seat, which nobody had bothered to belt in, so it squished me into the door when his father took a sharp turn. Luke had a heart monitor, but it must not have been on him all the time because I remember using it on my favorite toy: a Teddy Ruxpin bear.

Until Dustin Grover came along, we shared a trailer with my mother's twin sister, Leanne, who had dropped out of school to help support me. Even though the twins looked completely different, they were interchangeable to me since Aunt Leanne spent almost as much time with me as my mother, and I never minded when one left and the other took over. I loved to nestle by Aunt Leanne's side. She would rake my curls with her fingers while talking on the phone to her friends.

My mother was only seventeen when she gave birth to me. If she and my aunt were anything like most teenagers, they probably were more interested in hanging out with friends than changing diapers. Nevertheless, they worked different shifts and took turns caring for me. Their trailer became the local hangout because there was no adult supervision.

"Turn that down," my mother yelled one afternoon. I was watching cartoons, trying to drown out the teen voices by raising the volume higher and higher. "I said, turn that down!"

"Well, if you would shut the hell up, I could hear the damn TV," I said. My mother and her friends burst out laughing.

I was an intuitive two-year-old soaking up language and behaviors from a crew of rowdy adolescents who were trying on adult attitudes and habits. I got attention by acting grown up, and my mother bragged about how early I was toilet trained and how clearly I spoke.

My mother had a carefree attitude. She was too self-absorbed to fuss about my safety. Although she always strapped me in my car seat, her battered truck did not have seat belts. Driving down a bumpy South Carolina road, the unlocked door popped open. I tumbled out, rolling a few times before landing on the shoulder. My mother turned the truck around and found me waving at her. I was still buckled into the seat.

When my mother began living with Dustin — whom everyone called "Dusty" — the whole mood in the house shifted and Aunt Leanne wasn't around as much. Dusty was like an ocean that changed unexpectedly with the weather. One moment he could be placid, the next he turned into choppy waves that broke hard and stung. I cowered when he yelled. Since my mother was busy with me, she did not always have the perfect hot meal her boyfriend expected ready the moment he walked in the door.

"Can't you even bake a damn biscuit right?" he yelled after he saw the burnt bottom on one, sending the pie tin flying like a Frisbee.

I hid under my blanket as I always did when the fighting started, hoping it would protect me from their nasty words or physical brawls. I peered through a hole at a single object — like a shoe — and tried to make everything else disappear.

I remember when my pregnant mother awoke from a nap and found my aunt and Dusty sitting close together watching television. She caught them tickling and laughing. My mother screamed at my aunt, "How could you? He's the father of my baby!"

"You sure of that?" my aunt screeched back before she slammed the screen door behind her.

After that, she was gone for weeks, and I missed her so much that I would curl my hair around my own fingers and pretend it was her doing it.

Not long after that, there was a new baby: Tommy. My mother brought him home in a yellow blanket and let me kiss his tiny fingers. I don't remember much else because he came and went in less than two months. Sometimes I thought that I had dreamed him or that he was merely a doll I was not supposed to touch. The last time I saw him, he had suddenly stopped moving and turned from pink to gray. We all sat in a room and everyone passed him around. He was lying in a box that was padded with a pillow.

My mother got pregnant again shortly after Tommy disappeared. A few months later she married Dusty, and for a short time we seemed like a happy little family. But only nine months after Tommy was born, Luke arrived premature. Before my mother was even twenty, she had managed to have three children in less than three years.

At least Luke — unlike me — came into the world with a father. At birth my new brother weighed only two pounds. My mother had to come home from the hospital without him.

"Did you really have a baby?" I asked my mother.

"He has to stay with the nurses until he gets bigger," she explained.

A few days later I awoke to her sobbing. Dusty was trying to comfort her, but she pushed him away. "It's all your fault because you hit me!" she yelled.

I tried to understand how Dusty's hitting her could harm the unborn baby. I rested my head on her belly. It felt like a balloon that had some of the air let out. "When can I see my brother?" I asked.

"They had to take him from the hospital in Spartanburg to the one in Greenville where they can care for him better," my mother explained. "We'll drive up there as soon as we can."

In the meantime, my mother went back to work. Dusty was supposed to watch me while my mother worked the late shift. One night neighbors found me wandering through the trailer park alone and kept me until my mother returned home.

The next day she packed a bag and we moved into a Ronald McDonald House near the hospital.

We went to see Luke every day. Most of the time I had to wait outside in a room where there were little tables, coloring books, and crayons. Sometimes they would let me put on a mask and come into the room where the babies were kept in boxes — not like the wooden one that had held Tommy, but a plastic one that I could peek through when my mother lifted me up.

"Is he ever getting out of there?" I asked.

"Oh, yes," my mother promised. "He's strong like his daddy."

When Luke came home seven months later, he was not much bigger than one of my dolls. He sometimes wore a doctor's face mask instead of a diaper.

Aunt Leanne came by to help and called often. "Where's your mama?" she asked when I answered the phone.

"In the kitchen cookin' dope," I replied.

"I'm coming right over," she said, but when she did, Dusty refused to let her in.

Dusty worked as a framing subcontractor. After an argument over money, his partner stormed over to our trailer. Dusty locked him out, but he busted down the door and then started tearing up the house. A chair hit the wall and a table flew in my direction. I ducked, but my mother started screaming, "You almost hurt Ashley!"

"I'm okay, Mama," I said as I crouched in a corner.

"We need to move," my mother announced to Dusty while they cleaned up the mess. "There are too many bad influences on you around here."

"And you're an angel?" he shot back. "Besides, all my work is here."

"There's plenty of work in Florida." She kicked the broken chair into a corner. "I wish I had never left there after Mama died."

Her mother — my maternal grandmother, Jenny — had her first child when she was fourteen, but she put that baby up for adoption. Over the next six years she had Perry; followed by the twins, Leanne and Lorraine; and finally, Sammie. Then, at twenty-one, Grandma Jenny was diagnosed with cervical cancer and had a hysterectomy. Sick, poor, and battered by her alcoholic husband, she decided she could not raise her kids any longer and turned them over to a Baptist children's home. My mother did not have much to do with either parent for many years, but when Jenny was about to die in Florida, my mother went to see her for the last time. Jenny was thirty-three.

Using her small inheritance, my mother enrolled in cosmetology school. Before they would allow her to train with the hair treatment chemicals, she had to have a physical checkup. This is how she found out she was pregnant with me. My mother thinks she conceived me when she partied the night of her mother's funeral. In any case, I was born thirty-nine weeks later. While she was in labor, she was watching The Young and the Restless, and so she named me Ashley after one of the soap opera characters.

When Dusty agreed to move to Tampa, my mother cheered up. As she packed, she hummed "You Are My Sunshine" and explained to me, "We're moving to the Sunshine State to live happily ever after."

I do not remember much about the long car trip except singing along with Joan Jett on the radio. When we first arrived in Florida, we stayed at a motel, then a trailer that smelled like low tide. I have memories of walking around that trailer park carrying Luke's bottle and begging for milk.

Our car always smelled of pickles and mustard from all the fast food we ate in it. I was enjoying my usual kids' meal in the backseat when my mother shouted, "Shit, shit!" A flashing red light made the car's windows glow rosy, and I liked the way my hands looked, as though they were on fire.

A siren blared. Dusty banged the steering wheel. "Ashley, you keep saying you gotta go potty, okay?" my mother ordered.

A police officer asked where our license plate was.

"Mommy, gotta go potty!" I called loudly.

"Where're you headed?" the officer asked.

"To my stepfather's house," my mother said in her most genial voice.

"We're just in from South Carolina. We're moving here," Dusty continued rapidly, "so I'll get a new Florida plate tomorrow."

"Welcome to Florida," he said, glancing at me and Luke before arresting Dusty for not having a license plate on the car or a valid driver's license.

My mother alternately cussed and cried while we waited for Dusty to be released. It was several hours before we could go home to our apartment. The shoebox-style building was on tree-lined Sewaha Street. "We're living in a duplex now," my mother explained, and I sensed that we had come up in the world. Three days later I encountered more police officers — the ones who broke up our family forever.

I was sitting on the stoop dressed only in shorts when the police cars pulled up. "He's not here," my mother said when they asked for Dusty. One of the men kept coming toward her. My mother, who was holding Luke, screamed, "I didn't do anything!"

"Mama," I cried, reaching both hands up for her to lift me as well. A uniformed man pushed me away and snatched Luke out of her arms. I tried to rush toward my mother, who was already being put in the backseat of a police car. The door slammed so hard, it shook my legs. Through the closed window, I could hear my mother shouting, "Ashley!" Someone held me back as the car pulled away. I struggled and kicked trying to chase after her.

"It's okay! Settle down!" the man with the shiny buttons said.

I sobbed for my Teddy Ruxpin. "Winky!"

"Who's that?" The officer let me run inside. I pulled Winky out from under a blanket on my bed. "Oh, it's your teddy. He can come too." He grabbed two of my T-shirts and told me to put one on and to wear my flip-flops. My Strawberry Shortcake T-shirt ended up on Luke, although it was way too big for him.

At the police station a man in uniform handed Luke to a woman in uniform. Luke tugged on Winky's ears as I sat beside him and the female officer. In the background I could hear my mother yelling for us, but I could not see her. Two women wearing regular clothes arrived. One lifted Luke; the other's rough hand pulled me in her direction. The woman who held Luke also took Winky.

"No!" I cried, reaching for Winky.

"It's just for a little while," the first woman told me.

"Winky!"

My mother came into view for a few seconds. "Ashley! I'll get you soon!" Then a door slammed and she was gone. I turned and Luke was no longer there. I was pushed outside and loaded into a car.

"Mommy! Luke!" I cried. "Winky!"

"You'll see them later," the woman said as our car drove off.

Thinking about that moment is like peeling a scab off an almost-healed wound. I still believed everything would return to normal. Little did I know, I would never live with my mother — or see Winky — again.

Copyright © 2008 by Ashley Rhodes-Courter

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Introduction

A Reading Group Guide to

Three Little Words: A Memoir

By Ashley Rhodes-CourterAbout the Book

Ashley was only three years old when she was taken from her mother — too young to understand why she couldn't stay with the mother she adored and she could not possibly have realized that she was going to spend the next nine years bouncing from one foster family to another. As a small child she could not stand up for herself when the people that were charged with her care failed her. At twenty years old, her mother Lorraine was also too young to take responsibility for her two children or negotiate the legal system that tore apart her family. Three Little Words is Ashley's story, told in her voice, about the time she spent without Lorraine, and her search for someone to mother her. It contains all the passion and detail that can only come from someone who has experienced the foster care system from the inside.

About the Author

After spending almost ten years in foster care, twenty-two year old Ashley Rhodes-Courter has been featured in Glamour, USA Today, and on The Today Show. Ashley is a sought-after child advocate and gives keynotes to conferences on foster care and adoption all across the United States. She has spoken on Capitol Hill and has been invited to the White House twice. In early 2007, she was honored with a Golden BR!CK Award, which gave $25,000 to her charity: the North American Council on Adoptable Children. Her memoir, Three Little Words, published by Simon & Schuster began as an essay also titled "Three Little Words," which won a writing contest for high schoolstudents and ran in New York Times Magazine. She hopes that her story might inspire young people to share and learn from their hardships so that this generation can change the world for the better.

Discussion Topics

1. What are the three little words of the title? Are these the words that you expected? Why are they so significant to Ashley and to the story? Do you think that Ashley would change these three words if she could?

2. Why did fighting the Mosses become so important to Ashley? What was she hoping to gain? Was Gay and Phil's reaction to her efforts fair? Was the end result worth the effort?

3. Ashley was always acting out toward Gay, and made a point of doing things that would anger or hurt her adopted mother. Why did she act this way toward Gay but not toward Phil? How did Gay's reaction to all this affect Ashley's behavior? Why did Ashley eventually stop acting this way? Was her behavior markedly different from a "normal" teenager's?

4. Why did Ashley drug Gay and Phil? Why did getting caught upset her? Did her reasons for being upset change?

5. Did Ashley always feel responsible for Luke's happiness and well-being? Is it fair to think that she should have?

6. Was Lorraine a bad mother? Did various people perceive her mothering skills differently? Did her ability to be a good mother change over the years?

7. The officials took Ashley and Luke away from their mother to keep them safe. Did this work? In what ways would they have been better off with their mother? What did they lose when they became foster children?

8. Toward the end of the book, Ashley seemed to reconnect with her extended biological family more quickly and easily than with her mother. Why do you think this is?

9. Were all of Ashley's experiences with foster families bad? Was there anything positive about her time in the system? Who was looking out for her? Who failed her?

10. How did Ashley get involved with writing and public speaking? Why was this important to her?

Activities

  • This book grew from an essay that Ashley wrote for a competition in which students were asked to write about a moment in their lives in which they learned something about themselves. Write your own essay about such a moment in your life.
  • In the past couple years, there have been several high profile custody cases in the news. Choose one of these cases and have a mock trial to determine who gets custody.
  • Set up an interview with a professional who works in the foster care system in your area (case worker, Guardian ad Litem, etc). What do they like and dislike about their job? What is a typical day like? Do they feel like they are making a difference?
  • Ashley talks about the Christmas gifts that foster families receive from local sponsors. Organize a toy or clothing drive to benefit less fortunate children in your area.
  • Speaking out on behalf of foster children has become an important part of Ashley's life. Is there a cause that resonates with you? Write an essay or speech about it and see if you can give this speech to an appropriate service organization in your area. If this is not an option, perhaps you can write a letter to someone who is active in the cause you've chosen.

Ashley Rhodes-Courter wrote this book as a way to piece together the puzzle of her past and

also to thank those who step up for child welfare issues every day. An advocate for adoption and foster care reform, twenty-two-year-old Ashley

has been featured in Teen People, Glamour, and USA Today. This memoir began as an essay, also titled

"Three Little Words," which won a writing contest for students, and ran in New York Times Magazine. Ashley lives in Florida and is a recent graduate from Eckerd College.

Read More Show Less

Reading Group Guide

A Reading Group Guide to

Three Little Words: A Memoir

By Ashley Rhodes-Courter About the Book

Ashley was only three years old when she was taken from her mother — too young to understand why she couldn't stay with the mother she adored and she could not possibly have realized that she was going to spend the next nine years bouncing from one foster family to another. As a small child she could not stand up for herself when the people that were charged with her care failed her. At twenty years old, her mother Lorraine was also too young to take responsibility for her two children or negotiate the legal system that tore apart her family. Three Little Words is Ashley's story, told in her voice, about the time she spent without Lorraine, and her search for someone to mother her. It contains all the passion and detail that can only come from someone who has experienced the foster care system from the inside.

About the Author

After spending almost ten years in foster care, twenty-two year old Ashley Rhodes-Courter has been featured in Glamour, USA Today, and on The Today Show. Ashley is a sought-after child advocate and gives keynotes to conferences on foster care and adoption all across the United States. She has spoken on Capitol Hill and has been invited to the White House twice. In early 2007, she was honored with a Golden BR!CK Award, which gave $25,000 to her charity: the North American Council on Adoptable Children. Her memoir, Three Little Words, published by Simon & Schuster began as an essay also titled "Three Little Words," which won a writing contest for high school students and ran in New York Times Magazine. She hopes that her story might inspire young people to share and learn from their hardships so that this generation can change the world for the better.

Discussion Topics

1. What are the three little words of the title? Are these the words that you expected? Why are they so significant to Ashley and to the story? Do you think that Ashley would change these three words if she could?

2. Why did fighting the Mosses become so important to Ashley? What was she hoping to gain? Was Gay and Phil's reaction to her efforts fair? Was the end result worth the effort?

3. Ashley was always acting out toward Gay, and made a point of doing things that would anger or hurt her adopted mother. Why did she act this way toward Gay but not toward Phil? How did Gay's reaction to all this affect Ashley's behavior? Why did Ashley eventually stop acting this way? Was her behavior markedly different from a "normal" teenager's?

4. Why did Ashley drug Gay and Phil? Why did getting caught upset her? Did her reasons for being upset change?

5. Did Ashley always feel responsible for Luke's happiness and well-being? Is it fair to think that she should have?

6. Was Lorraine a bad mother? Did various people perceive her mothering skills differently? Did her ability to be a good mother change over the years?

7. The officials took Ashley and Luke away from their mother to keep them safe. Did this work? In what ways would they have been better off with their mother? What did they lose when they became foster children?

8. Toward the end of the book, Ashley seemed to reconnect with her extended biological family more quickly and easily than with her mother. Why do you think this is?

9. Were all of Ashley's experiences with foster families bad? Was there anything positive about her time in the system? Who was looking out for her? Who failed her?

10. How did Ashley get involved with writing and public speaking? Why was this important to her?

Activities

  • This book grew from an essay that Ashley wrote for a competition in which students were asked to write about a moment in their lives in which they learned something about themselves. Write your own essay about such a moment in your life.
  • In the past couple years, there have been several high profile custody cases in the news. Choose one of these cases and have a mock trial to determine who gets custody.
  • Set up an interview with a professional who works in the foster care system in your area (case worker, Guardian ad Litem, etc). What do they like and dislike about their job? What is a typical day like? Do they feel like they are making a difference?
  • Ashley talks about the Christmas gifts that foster families receive from local sponsors. Organize a toy or clothing drive to benefit less fortunate children in your area.
  • Speaking out on behalf of foster children has become an important part of Ashley's life. Is there a cause that resonates with you? Write an essay or speech about it and see if you can give this speech to an appropriate service organization in your area. If this is not an option, perhaps you can write a letter to someone who is active in the cause you've chosen.
Read More Show Less

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 110 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted December 13, 2008

    A Book That You Could Never Get Tired Of

    This is one of the best books I have ever written.<BR/>Who ever knew that three little words really could mean so much to someone? <BR/>After reading this, I felt like I could've been there, and felt emotions through the roof.<BR/>This book has made me cry often. The emotion that Ashley Rhodes-Courter put into this was incredible. Maybe it's because it was a true story that she lived through, or because she is a great author. Either way, this book is unforgettable and phenomenal. You won't regret picking it up.<BR/><BR/>I originally borrowed this book from a friend after she persuaded me to read it. I'm so thankful that she did! Now, I have bought the book and read it multiple times.<BR/><BR/>I have read many books. I am an avid reader, and my bedroom is full of them. I even have another room just full of books! This has to be, by far, one of the best I've read. <BR/><BR/>Personally, I think you should be 12 or older to read this book, maybe 13. I was 12 when I read it for the first time. It depends on your maturity level, though.<BR/><BR/>You will not regret buying this at all.

    10 out of 10 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 18, 2009

    I Also Recommend:

    Excellent

    Kudos to Ashley Rhodes-Courter. I am a foster parent and unlike so many we do provide a loving home to children. To this day children come into our home with a garbage bag. It was incredible to see her story through her eyes and experiences.<BR/><BR/>I wish the Moss's would have gotten much worse, however Ashley set the state of Florida on a better path. The foster children in the United States are greatly overlooked. While we are not interested in adopting, we do long term foster care and let kids know they are loveable. They do stay in our lives for a very long time.

    7 out of 8 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 3, 2009

    this book is amazing.

    well i haven't finish the whole book. but so far the book is amazing i mean its deep,thrilling and will leave you breath less. you can really get lost in this book my teacher told me about it and i was like i'll check it out. so i read the first couple of pages and could'nt stop. my oppinion is that you would love it to. even if don't like to read.

    6 out of 7 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 28, 2011

    Love

    I love this book. I do not relate to anything she went threw, i grew up in a great home. But this book really made me feel her pain and strugle. I would recommend this book to many of my teenage friends.

    5 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 1, 2008

    A reviewer

    It was very good and moving. It had a powerful message, and it really touched me.

    5 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 27, 2011

    I connected alot with this book. Im a child that was adopted and had alot of agreements and connectings with my life. I hope people take care of their child like thry ment more then anything in the world.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 9, 2011

    Raw Book! Must Read!!

    Three little words was a great book, it was very inspiring. It was about a young girl that had a very rough childhood. She bounced around to many different foster homes and was seperated from her family. She was abused and not treated right at some of the house she was placed in. She was giving up hope on finding a good family that is willing to adopt her. Years went on and with only a little hope left. In came the Courter family. They came a few times and started to get to know Ashley and she started to really like them. A little later they adopted her and gave her a brand new life. She never forgot her real family but she loved her new one. With their help she graduated from college and now she travles the world promoting people to go to foster homes and adopt.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted December 9, 2011

    life changing

    By reading the first chapter of Three little words I was already hooked on getting the book finished. I was very interested in knowing what her story was and how she overcame these obstacles. I honestly recommend this book to anyone. I think it¿s a very touching memoir and shows that we can¿t take everyone for granted because we all have a story. Ashley¿s story is one you will never forget. I recommend this for the ages of 15+
    -Kitty Timber Creek High School Class of 2011

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 30, 2011

    Three Little Words

    Okay. A little dramatic but really descriptive. I really could relate to her because my family currently has three foster kids. Its not easy but to see them be put in a bad foster care home, or worse, go back to their mother who doesnt take care of them at all. This book really portrys how foster kids feel and sometimes get treated. Definetly worthwhile read.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted October 6, 2011

    A must read for anyone considering adoption

    This author painted a true picture of what goes on it the foster care system. As a volunteer with the Guardian-Ad-Litem program, I see a lot of this kind of treatment of the children that I represent. I believe anyone considering adoption should read this book and they will soon realize why the children they are about to adopt behave the way they do.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 27, 2011

    A book for anyone a mom/social worker/foster mom anyone involved with children this is 5 stars plus

    I am a mom biological and adoptive but as far as i am concerned some might not have my blood but they all have my heart mamma(as my grandchildren call me/ forever the words in this story are spoken so true they eill live inside your heart forever .... i was a foster mom for almost 10 years we had over 200 babies under the age of 2 also had children older when they came into our hearts 99.9 percent came with just the clothes they had on but not one of them left with a cloth bag not a garbage bag filled with some things they could hold onto that belong to them not oje child left with just what they came in and each child had either a handmade doll or teddy to hold onto when they were scarred we became foster parents again to our 2 toddler grandsons and we have seen 2 little lost children learn what it was to be loved and to give love we just had our last visit from our out of state social worker the adoption should be finalized soon i recommended this book to be used for programs regarding foster/adopted children, the stories in this book are stories that are true to what u read i am a mom grandma forever no matter what road they take

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 9, 2011

    HIGHLY RECOMMEND this book.

    I cried when I was reading this. Ashley reminded me of my granddaughter and Luke of my grandson. These poor souls, how they suffered. I hope Ashely is helping her brother who wanted to stay with her for so long. Poor sweet guy, he was looking for love and someone familiar. I have four half brothers because of the death of my father and mother remarrying and Ashley I would go to the ends of the earth for my brothers. Please help Luke. You are two precious people. :)

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 13, 2011

    FANTASTIC

    WHAT AN AMAZING BOOK. I Could not believe what ashley had to endure. Thank you to gay and phil who showered her with love and treated her as their own. A MUST READ FOR EVERYONE.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 28, 2011

    Very nice book

    This book is a memoir. Ashley had to go through 9 years of the foster care system with her brother. They had 19 foster parents through 9 years. Ashley tells the good events and the bad events of her life after she is taken away from her parents. The author was trying to show the strength and that there is hope in this kind of a situation. She was taken away because her mother was 17 and she couldnt provide for her and her brother.This book madde me look diffeerently at life. It made me appreciate my parents morew then I did before. I feel very lucky to have both of my parents and that I didn't have to go thrrough the things Ashley did.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 28, 2011

    fantastic.....

    seriously, this was an absolutely amazing book.....must read for everyone :)

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 11, 2011

    honestly written

    This book is beautifully and honestly written. Although sad this is a true depiction of what many children in fostercare go through.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted December 28, 2010

    very good book!

    this book was a quick read for me, as i kept turning pages, wanting to see how this little girl turned out. fortunately, it was a happy ending, but the pain she endured as a child is heartbreaking. it's an eye-opening book for those who know nothing or very little about our foster system. if you're like me and enjoy reading books about other people's true lives, you'll like this one!

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 30, 2010

    Loved It

    Three Little Words is the story of Ashley's nine year journey through the limbo that we know as foster care. She tells her story of all the good and bad events from the day she and her brother were taken from her mother to her life after she is adopted. All she wanted was to be with her mother who just couldn't set herself straight. She tells her feelings, wants and fears in this compelling true story. I found it very hard to put this book down. What got me interested was it was about how a child (Ashley) thought and experienced going through the foster care system. I thought it would be interesting since I grew up around foster kids due to my grandparents. It was an amazing book and I just kept turning the pages anxiously wondering what was going to happen next. I would recommend this book to anyone who is looking for a good and easy book to read. -Taylor Langel

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 9, 2011

    Recommended

    I personally believe this is a very good book. It is based on the biography of Ashley Rhodes-Courter, a girl who unfortnetly had to go through the foster home system. As soon as I picked up the book and started reading, I imidiately connected to her life and what she went trough. It is a really well writen biography; it does not hold back in details, it is realisticlly descriptive, and it keeps you focused and anxious for reading more. I loved it and actually enjoyed reading it.

    Recommended to teenagers 14-up
    Timber Creek High School Class of 2012

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted August 27, 2011

    Caution this book contains porn beginning on page 49-50.

    this book is not for children. it should not be sold at book fairs
    author could have told story with out this porn i am sure that the excellerated reader program is not testing our children, middle schoolers, and young teens on their understanding of this porn in this book and if they are then shame on all of you!
    Take the child off the cover and replace it with a picture of satan stealing the innocence of children who have never lived a life like that. I am very sorry that there are not more like me protecting children from this kind of gross injustice. This arthor should not be writing books for children at all if this is what you have to offer. Shame on you for this material. Shame!!!!

    1 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

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