If there's one book you read this year outside of school, you should seriously read this one. It's a story filled with love, abuse, and mystery.

Take a look...

"One Small Boat"
by Kathy Harrison.


In May of 2003, right after the release of my first book, Another Place at the Table, and just before I jumped back into foster parenting with both feet, I received a small packet from my social worker, Susan Crane. I had asked her some months earlier if it was possible for me to have a list of all the children I had cared for over the past fifteen years, and thanks to the marvels of the computer age, she was able to comply. The list was complete and a little scary. There were more than one hundred twenty names on it.

For the next several hours, I poured over that list. As I read the names, the faces and stories of each child came back to me. There was eight-month-old Elijah, whose wrists were still raw from the rope he had been tied up with. And eleven-year-old Katara. She spent a week with us, recuperating from the surgery she needed to repair the injuries she sustained when her stepbrother raped her. I will never forget Juanita. She cried when a judge ordered her return to her alcoholic mother. "It's not fair," she sobbed on her last day with us. "You let me stay with you until I love you, and then I have to leave." She was right, of course. There is little that is fair about foster care.

I can rattle off the bare statistics. Every day more than seven hundred children come into foster care in this country because of suspected abuse or neglect. One-third of those children will never go home to their original families again. One-third who do go home will be back in care again before they reach adulthood. There are more than 555,000 children in the child welfare system in this country. The number is astounding, so large that most people can't comprehend it. Its enormity excuses our tendency to forget that these are not numbers but real little people.

I write for many reasons. I write out of my personal need to examine my world and explore my own motives. I write as catharsis so that the horror my children live will not eat me up and leave me bitter and cynical. I write to provide a counter balance to the reality that a child is more than five times as likely to be killed while in foster care than while at home and that children in care are abused htree times as often. But I write for another reason. I want people to see the real children hiding within the statistics. It is easier to ignore the 555,000 than it is to ignore Ashley, a four-year-old who had been videotaped having sex with her brother.

This book is about a lot of children. It tells the stories of Jazzy and Crystal, Priscilla and Maggie. It is also a story about my daughter, Karen, who has had to fashion a childhood around the comings and goings of a band of temporary siblings. Mostly though, this book is about Daisy, the child I almost didn't take. She was crazy was what I was told. She needs more than a family will be able to offer. Like all children, Daisy was a teacher. She taught me about strength and courage and resiliency and finding joy in the ordinary. I also learned about loving and losing and that happy endings are often what we make for ourselves