What are the surprising Three Little Words?

Three Little Words by Ashley Rhodes-Courter; published by Atheneum, an imprint of Simon & Schuster Publishing, New York, 2008; 304 pages.

Ashley Rhodes-Courter’s life was changed for the better by three little words.  Were they “I love you?”  No, she’d heard those words before.  Her birth mother called her “Sunshine” with promises of love and family togetherness that never happened.  Were they “Mom and Dad?”  She’d had innumerable foster parents, all wanting to be called mom or dad, but they were transient relationships.  What three little words could give Ashley permanence that she so desperately needed?  “I guess so.”  Her answer to the judge during adoption proceedings brought Ashley home, a place she’d only ever dreamed of. 

This memoir of Rhodes-Courter’s emotionally exhausting and incredibly frightening journey through the foster care system is hard to read yet hard to put down.  As a mother, I was horrified by the treatment of children by supposedly caring adults in a system that lacks oversight or ramifications for failure to follow the rules.  As an adoptive parent, I was tortured by the “what ifs” for my children, but more for the children I could not help.  As a teen, I would have eaten up this memoir and, like Ashley, I would have taken a stand for all the children that fall through the cracks in the system.

The book is often confusing as some of the events are included out of chronological order.  The details about the legal system were interesting to me as an adoptive parent, but certainly did not provide the needed climax to the story; I felt like the storyteller was tired of speaking and the tale just drifted off to the end.  However, I also felt this was an incredibly hard book to write but had a story that all teens need to read.  All grownups should have to read this as well.  Brava, Ashley, for speaking up for the children!

3P     3Q     Grade Level: 9-12+ (adults, too)

3littlewordsCover Art: The image of Ashley in an angel costume for Halloween is haunting and the title is intriguing.  For a non-fiction book, I believe this is an interesting cover and would appeal to teens.  The large, white type on the blood red spine was easy to locate on the shelves; if you were browsing, I think it would get your attention over other books.

From Reading List: Too Good to Be True Non-fiction


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