A Chance in the World: An Orphan Boy, a Mysterious Past, and How He Found a Place Called Home
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A Chance in the World: An Orphan Boy, a Mysterious Past, and How He Found a Place Called Home

4.13 of 5 stars 4.13  ·  rating details  ·  725 ratings  ·  157 reviews
"Pemberton's beautifully told story is a rags to riches journey--beginning in a place and with a jarring set of experiences that could have destroyed his life. But Steve's refusal to give in to those forces, and his resolve to create a better life, shows a courage and resilience that is an example for many of us to follow." --Stedman Graham, Author, Educator

Home is the pla...more
Hardcover, 272 pages
Published January 10th 2012 by Thomas Nelson Publishers
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William Ramsay
This is the memoir of a terrible life, of a boy who should never have made it in the world. The product of two very dysfunctional parents, sent to a terrible foster home, denied not only a normal childhood, but food and hope, Steve Pemberton should have turned to drugs and an early incarceration or death. That he turned out a stable man with a family, and education, and good job is testement not only to his fortitude, but to the strange working of our genes. The book is a harrowing read for the...more
Ben Schulman
A Chance in the World is a book an orphan named Steve, and what he had to go through as a child and through out his life being an orphan. As a child, Steve was put in an awful home, where he was beaten and yelled at. Life there was horrible for him. He lived there for most of his childhood and while he did, he was, whipped, burned, slapped, and almost shot on a "hunting accident". It took him until he was 17 years old until he was let out of the horrible home. Afterwards it talks about how he wa...more
Steve Pemberton shares the story of his horrific youth in foster care and how he overcame those circumstances. Very powerful story

I recognize almost all the places and even some of the names mentioned. Pretty cool!

My favorite part is when he searches for his birth family. I won't go into spoiler details but it is certainly a roller coaster with ups and downs.

I found the writing style difficult to deal with. I'm not a big fan of narrative, whether it's fiction or n...more
Sarah Giannetta
I recently had the opportunity to meet Steve Pemberton, as he gave the keynote speech at the National Partnership for Educational Access conference in Boston, which is also where I got the book. The book is a little hard to read at times, only because of the serious abuse Steve endures as a kid. How he made it through his childhood is unbelievable, but he does and his story is one everyone should read. I was stunned at the failures of the foster care system detailed in this book, but also reliev...more
A heartbreaking memoir chronicling the life of a young boy's experiences in the foster care system in Massachusetts, his search for his birth family, and the obstacles he encounters along the way. No child should have to live through what Steve did, and it sounds like his experiences are not atypical, which should be a call to arms for everyone in the social services and justice system. The memoir would have benefitted from some tighter editing, however. Steve's story is so powerful, yet sometim...more
A wonderful book---extremely uplifting. Steve Pemberton had a childhood that would have destroyed almost anyone, but through determination and intelligence, he overcame all that was thrown at home, and went on to college, marriage, parenthood and a good career. This book tells of how he came to discover his past---his parents he never knew, his extended family and why he wound up in an abusive foster home. I was truly inspired by his lack of bitterness and his faith. Beautifully written.
A captivating memoir about a biracial child who survives the terrifying experiences of foster care in Massachusetts. His remarkable resilience, survival, faith in God and search for personal identity make this a must read for anyone working in public service.
Tenille Shade
I'm grateful I found out about this book through a dinner conversation with school board members. Listening to the author share his story impacted me deeply. Steve Pemberton endured the unimaginable and rose from the ashes triumphant and resilient. I've heard a lot of tales of heartache, but his young man's life experience is unparalleled. I think the saddest chapter for me was when he graduated from college and not one single person was there to celebrate with him. The wedding chapter brought r...more
Barbara Twardowski
The life of an abused foster child and his search for family. I would have liked to know more about his faith.
Memoirs I suppose, by their very nature are often tales of messy and disappointing childhoods. Growing up in middle class America with a stable mother and father would not necessarily make captivating fiction. That said, Growing up as Steve Pemberton did screamed for him to write a memoir. His earliest memory is of being placed in foster care and his first day there being abandoned when the family went off for the day. His next home was harrowing at best. It was disconcerting to see how the syst...more
I really enjoyed this book. Interesting perspective coming from reading the Language of Flowers for the second time.

Here are some of my favorite quotes:

Here's the author reflecting on the lives of characters in books he read" "I learned that not everyone lived the way I did, that most people came from intact homes that offered joy and laughter, freedom and exploration, promise and possibility. And because of what I read, I developed the ridiculously absurd notion that one day I, too, could have...more
Steve Klakowicz doesn't remember his mother or father. He does remember his first foster home with a horrible family who left him sitting on the stoop for hours when he was afraid to climb into their car. The foster situation involved a family that smiled for visiting social workers. The Robinsons of Arnold Street, however, were even worse than his first foster family, physically and verbally abusing Steve until he was in high school and finally able to break free. But it's not the incidents of...more
I cannot honestly say that this book grabbed me from page one. Actually, the first 3 or 4 chapters made me wonder if I would stick with it...but then it grabbed a hold of me and I mean a tight hold! God help anyone who interrupted my reading time once I fell in love with the story of this young abused boy! I'm quite sure that no other book has made me feel so angry before - angry with "The System" and bureaucracy in general. The events in this true story took place in the early 1970's and while...more
Recommended by a friend, this non-fiction book was a great journey into the world of foster care and the power and will of a child to overcome all circumstances and "have a chance in the world". Fascinating and sad at the same time, the story moves quickly as you read (listen for me) of his abusive foster family and how he finally escapes them. Would have rated it higher but got a bit slower towards the end. Tear jerker for sure.
This is a very fast and affecting read.

The foster care system sucks. Please, when you read of a child being treated more horribly than you can imagine in foster care, believe it. Now that we have seen it first hand, we know it to be true. It's so very sad. How any abandoned and abused child grows up to be a stable adult is a miracle.

If you know a child you suspect to be suffering, show your caring, lend your kindness. These kids NEED to know that someone has noticed them as a human being. It cou...more
I met Steve when I was 17 years old with a desire to attend Boston College. He sacrificed leaving work on Valentine's Day to wait for me to arrive on campus and ask any final questions. I was late, but he still stayed. He understood me as an inner city kid looking for a way to better myself and turn the tide of family failures to successes. That is exactly what his book is about.

Steve's story is about the determination he showed, despite the abuse, disappointments, and setbacks. His story as a b...more
A Chance In The World is an amazing read! This story tells all about a mans journey through his childhood, teen life and journey into adult life. Pemberton had so many struggles in his life, that caused him to become the man he is today. He went through numerous adoptive families, but stayed the longest in a certain home. This home was by far, the most unhappiest place Pemberton had ever stayed at. It caused him a great deal of pain, fury, and fear. Pemberton's story is inspiring, and demonstrat...more
This book was about a boy who was put into the foster care system in the 70s and his journey as he grows up in an abusive foster home. After escaping that home how he comes to terms with his past and searches for and finds his family. This man had a very sad life but his faith helped sustain him through the unimaginable.
Okorafor,Ebube Abiodun


I never took the book down...it is an eye opener about how the system works.....I heard him talk at my graduation in my school and I was like I have to get this book.....one word....never lose faith and sight....he sure is a fighter for life....
What can a person say when they read about child abuse and abandonment? There is not much one can say. Steve Pemberton rose above his circumstances and is to be commended. His story will make you wince, cry, grieve and scream outrage but through it all he comes out whole. I could not help but feel hopeful when he was given books by a neighbor and those books are what helped him to pull out of this hell hole he was in...and that was when he was a young boy! Thank God for that neighbor and that on...more
This is a remarkable memoir and inspiring testimony that no matter how broken our past, no matter how great our misfortunes, we have it in us to create a new beginning. Taken from his mother at age 3, Steve lived a horrifying existence and was caught in the clutches of a cruel foster parent family.
Determined to unravel the mystery of his origins and find his birth family — yet armed with just a single clue—Steve embarked on an extraordinary quest for his identity. A Chance in the World is the u...more
Fascinating book with a really interesting story...and one that's true to boot! This is the story of a Walgreens executive who grew up in foster care where he didn't have a "chance in the world" to survive. With nothing but grit, determination, and a deep sense that he can overcome, he not only survives but thrives. There's definitely some unsung quiet heroes along the way looking out for him, but much of his success comes from the feeling that he's worth more than everyone says and he has a fam...more
I literally read this book in one day. Not only is it a quick read because it's well-written, but because his story is gripping. The first part, retelling his tortured childhood, is relatively difficult to read. You want to reach back in time and save him. But he tells his story with a voice of strength and determination; you know he emerges victorious somehow. I really appreciated the lack of swearing, even though it's alluded to that there was cursing - he never lowered the standards of his wr...more
Nicole L.
This was an excellent yet somewhat disturbing book that told the story of a boy who "wasn't wanted" and as a result was thrown into terrible situations while in the Foster Care system. I appreciate the author's honesty about the trials that he faced and how he was able to overcome them. Children who have been removed from the homes of their birth parents face special challenges. This book has enhanced my understanding of these challenges. I would recommend this book for everyone who is consideri...more
I don't consider myself a hate-filled person, but if there is a special place in hell for people who hurt children, the foster families in this story belong there.
This is the true story of a boy and his struggles through early life with an unfit mother, then into the foster system-- abuse, neglect, torment...Yet through it all he has hope.
In the end, he may not find the answers he is looking for, but he finds his history, his family (of sorts) and determines who he wants to be. It really is qui...more
Jenea Johnson
This was an easy read overall. Steve Pemberton did a great job in telling the story. It moved me and really provided great I sigh into foster kid life. Would have loved to hear how his experience prepared him for the successes he has experienced.
a pretty good memoir about Steven Pemberton's experience growing up for 11 years in a foster home after being taken from his mother at five. he had eleven years of child abuse and neglect in the foster home. finally getting away at fifteen or sixteen and staying with a teacher until 18. he proved his foster mother wrong by going to college. he started doing research to find his siblings and learn of his mother and father and what happened to them. won't give away too much. if you are interested...more
This is the engrossing, amazing, and humbling true story of Steve Pemberton, a young boy abandoned and tossed into a foster care system which looked the other way until he was 17 years old. What he lived through is truly horrifying and yet, he appears to have emerged from his own section of Hell whole, caring, and thoughtful. Though his search for his family did not turn out the way he thought it would, the story of what he did and how he did it reads like a mystery story. His perseverance, inte...more
Nana Sue
Living in a terrible and abusive foster home, Steve never gives up hope of finding his family.
Uplifting, hopeful, and amazing. He overcame much and shared the lessons with his readers.
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“Books for me were what the ocean is to the fearless explorer-deep and mysterious, boundless and soothing. I loved the smell of books, the feel of their weight in my hands, the rustle of the pages as I turned them, the magnificent illustrations on the covers that promised hidden treasures within.” 1 likes
“... a man could build whatever monuments he wanted in the worlds of politics, sports, entertainment, and business, but if they come at the expense of his children, then he has failed. Once the attention fades and the crowds stop cheering his name and his accomplishments are little more than fine print in a history book, the only thing that truly survives him is his child. That is his legacy. That is what defines him. All else is but a footnote.” 0 likes
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