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Three Little Words
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About the Author

Ashley Rhodes-Courter has been featured in Teen People, the New York Times, USA Today, and Glamour, as well as on Good Morning America. Her memoir began as an essay, which won a writing contest for high school students, and was published in the New York Times Magazine. A recent graduate of Eckerd College and a champion for the reformation of the foster care system, Ashley speaks internationally on foster care and adoption. Visit her at Rhodes-Courter.com.

Reviews

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 2008 Reed Business Information.

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 Pickett, Ridley High School, Folsom, PA Copyright 2008 Reed Business Information.

"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
"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
"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

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