They Cage the Animals at Night
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They Cage the Animals at Night

4.29 of 5 stars 4.29  ·  rating details  ·  4,381 ratings  ·  430 reviews
Burch was left at an orphanage and never stayed at any one foster home long enough to make any friends. This is the story of how he grew up and gained the courage to reach out for love.
Paperback, 304 pages
Published October 1st 1985 by Signet (first published January 1st 1984)
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Caging More Than Just Animals
Interestingly enough, we got to read this in middle school. We also got to keep the books that were assigned to us. I still remember certain scenes where Jennings, the narrator, and the author of this autobiographical novel either received amazing amounts of love or terrible amounts of abuse.

Set in the 1950s, in New York City and its environs, we get the unforgettable account of a few years of Jennings's childhood. With his mother too tired, sick, and beaten down to...more
Jan 16, 2013 Ali rated it 4 of 5 stars
Shelves: memoirs
I can't, with this book. I literally can't.

The writing isn't perfect, and the character's voice wavers between an innocent, naive 9 year old and someone who is much, much older. It works sometimes, because someone who's been through his experiences will be older beyond his years. It just seemed at times the author was trying to include that "out of the mouth of babes, incredibly insightful" voice. However, I did appreciate that no one was really cast as the "bad guy," because everyone in his fam...more
Ricky Ceniceros
It's a true story thats really shocking,The book “ They Cage The Animal At Night” is a very sad and depressing book(I cried). It talks about a little boy named Jennings Michael Burch. He is a little boy who was left by his mother at an orphanage. He is 8 years old, curly red hair, white with freckles. Also while he was their at the orphanage he was being teased and laughed at by all the other boys in their. It took place mostly in a small room in the orphanage, very plain gloomy feeling , crampe...more
They Cage the Animals at Night is the inspiring story of a young boy's childhood life. The boys name is Jennings Michael Burch. His mother gets very sick and sends Jennings and his 4 brothers into foster homes and orphanages. Follow Jennings through his childhood as he deals with poverty, sickness, and unfairness. Two of his brothers are drunks, Larry and George. His other brother, Walter, is too busy studying and doing school work, he cannot take care of Jennings. And his final brother, Jerome...more
I have just remembered this book right now. I remember that it was a really great inspiring book and it was just when he was a-little boy:( I know that I cried in this book.

I remember reading this book in either 8th grade or 7th and the whole grade got to meet Jennings. He looked really old with blondish grayish hair, I think, I don't remember much details but we got to ask questions and he first told us his life story when he was little.

The little boy on the cover isn't him, they used a diffe...more
Sandy Yang
They Cage the Animals at Night, written by Jennings Michael Burch, is one of the many abuse-related books that I have read, and this one, like the Dave Pelzer series, is one of my favorites. The first time I read this book, I was still a tween, and rereading the book now, five years later, I understand it more deeply. By understanding the main points of the book, I paid more attention to other aspects of this heart-throbbing book. For example, I explored the emotions that the protagonist, little...more
Emily Vance
I absolutely love this memoir. I read it for my Honors 9 English class as a summer assignment and at first I was really bummed because I thought it would be so boring. Well, it's not. It made me realize what's important and to be grateful for everything and everyone in my life. I definitely think everyone should read it.
They Cage The Amimals At Night. Genre: Memoir By: Jennings Michael Burch

This book is a tragic book about a boy, named Jennings Michael Burch. He is in and out of orphanages, foster homes,, and institutions over a four year period. It is based in mostly Brooklyn, New York. While he is in and out of orphanages, his mother is in and out of hospitals. She is dealing with physical and mental illness. He feels left out and alone. He has to deal with the physical abuse of the hands of strangers. But...more
They Cage the Animals at Night is about kids that have to move from family to family. This is an important book to read because this is a problem that a lot of kids have to go through. This book focuses on one specific kid, Jennings Michael Burch, that has to go into the foster homes system after his mom gets sick. The first time he went into a foster home he was very scared and confused; the environment of this group home is very cold and impersonal. With no caring adults or friendly kids to he...more
I wish I could tell you why They Cage The Animals At Night popped into my head tonight, of all nights. I read this book probably 20 years ago, when I was a small child myself. I feel that I need to read this book again to perhaps gain more insight than I did as a child. But from what I do remember of the book, it's this:
Jennings was bounced in and out of orphanages & homes
At one orphanage, they had stuffed animals, but they were taken away (caged) each night
Doggie was his companion who wa...more
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Absolutely devastating and heart-wrenching, but at the same time one of the most incredible books I've ever read. Not incredible in terms of story, of plot, or of writing, but incredible in that an American child could experience such disturbing horrors, and still be able to surpass them enough to live a successful adult life, and to write about them for the world to read. Definitely recommended for those looking to adopt or foster a child (as an idea of what they might (unfortunately) have suff...more
J.C. Burnham
THEY CAGE THE ANIMALS AT NIGHT will move and shake you to your very core. This is the story about a young boy left at orphanage. His story is so real you are glad it is fiction. Burch will make you cry and then leave you believing in miracles.
Tonia L Larson

could not stop reading.literally. I had to pause a few times and wipe tears away so I could see..but I could not put it down. thank you for writing this book, Mr Burch. although your story took place at a different time, these things still happen..both your family situations as well as the places that house children. I worked briefly at one in the 70s. it broke my heart to not take all those kids home with me. the way some of them were treated by some employees was truly criminal. afte...more
I've lost count on how many times I cried when reading this book
This is one of the sadder memoirs I've read, probably because it begins when Jennings' world starts to fall apart and ends when things start to come together again. The book opens with Jennings' overwhelmed mother taking him to an orphanage. He had no idea what was happening, and it didn't help that mom told him that she'd be right back. But she didn't come back for months.

For years Jennings' life went through the same cycles. Mother would get better and he and his brothers would come out of the...more
Have you ever felt like people just didnt want you?Or yu were treated bad for something you didnt even understand what was happen?Or felt like no onw really loved you.?Well this book is right for you.So this is how it started.With a teddy bear named Doggie and a little boy named Jennings.

This book is about a boy named jennings who's been through alot.He's been beaten and neglected .He's been to many foster homes.Jennings has five brothers .Jennings feelings get hurt alot & he is a very sweet...more
Feb 10, 2011 Amber rated it 4 of 5 stars
Shelves: 2011
I first heard of this book when Michael Jackson referred to it as one of his favorites. He was even involved in the process of making it a movie with Mel Gibson's company.

They Cage the Animals at Night tells the story of Jennings Burch, an 8 y.o. boy who comes from a troubled home life of trauma, illness, poverty, and substance abuse. Jennings is shuffled in and out of orphanages and foster homes only to suffer more abuse and neglect.

Throughout a life of frequent changes and uncertainty, Jenni...more
This was originally a required reading book for one of my high school English classes. Not only did I finish it long before my classmates, but I actually went out and purchased the book to add to my own collection. It is still one of my favorite books, I could not put it down back then and I still reread it once in a while.

The writing is amazing, you feel for Jennings and what he endured from childhood to his early teen years. Adult Jennings paints such a detailed picture it is easy to feel like...more
Niña Cory
Plot Summary:

They Cage the Animals at Night is an amazing story of a boy named Jennings that has a suddenly strange experience of going in and out of homes. He starts in the Home of The Angles, the rules are strict, and he has no idea why his mother has left him there and although she says she'll "Be right back" she didn't until weeks later. Then after she came for him and he was taken home, he got held back in school, and he almost missed The Home of the Angles, and his friend Mark. Then after...more
Jennie Leonard
They Cage the Animals at Night by Jennings Michael Burch is a book about a young boy by the name of Jennings. This boy is only nine years old and his mother sends him off to an orphanage while she tries to get better. During Jennings time in the orphanages, he needs to figure out ways to survive and to find his family.

The things Jennings goes through on her search for his mom and family is absolutely heart wrenching. The author manages to include every little detail of each event that Jennings e...more
How I choose this book was that my teacher had given my class a book list. So I looked through it and ran across a book that i had remembered my brother talking about.
The reason i choose this book was because my older brother read it for an assignment and he said that he enjoyed it. Also when he had it i read the first few pages and i was hooked instantly but had forgotten about it since he returned it.
This part makes me think about how many other little kids are out there and w...more
Jamaari Treadway
This book is non-fiction because this book is like a true story about the author. The book is about this little boy named Jennings and like he goes to a foster home because his mother got sick and she took him to a foster home. Once he had got there this teacher didn't like jennings so when Jennings asked her something like not a nice question in her way she would slap him across the face and then he went to the playroom. Now the characters are Jennings, Mom, Mark, Walter, George and Larry plus...more

JFK’s review
October 13 2013

They Cage the Animals at Night is a terrific and true book about the life of a boy named Jennings Michael Burch. I would recommend this book to someone who can take sad stories with crazy twists and turns. Here are the characters:
Jennings Michael Burch: The protagonist. He is a boy who carries a stuffed dog everywhere. A kind-hearted boy.
George: One of Jennings’s brothers. He drinks a lot, and always argues with Walter.
Walter: The oldest kid in Jennings’s family. He...more
Back when I first read this book, I was a freshman in high school and adapting to USA school system for the first time in my life. (Undergoing cultural shock, really.) Therefore, I have to admit this book holds much sentimental value for me and will always be my favorite book because of that.

This book taught and showed me much. Most importantly, it presented me with a means of escape--masqueraded as an English class assignment.

While reading this book, I laughed at times and cried at others. (Ba...more
Nov 12, 2013 Austin rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommended to Austin by: teacher
I just finished reading the memoir They Cage the Animals at Night by Jennings Michael Burch. This book was based on about five years of the authors childhood and what he had to go through. Jennings is about eight years old and he lives in a New York City apartment with his mother and four brothers named Gene, Walter, George, and Larry. One day Jenning's mom takes him somewhere without letting him know where he is being taken. It turns out that his mom left him at an orphanage because she was to...more
Tb Awesome!
They Cage the Animals at Night by Jennings Michael Burch is a very well written, sad book about Jennings' childhood. Jennings has one younger brother and three older brothers, and lives a hard life in Brooklyn, New York. His dad is an alchoholic and doesn't live with them, so his mom with the help of his oldest brother take care of their family. Jennings' mom has to send him to many orphanages/foster homes because she has a very hard time taking care of five boys. The only problem with his eldes...more
“They Cage The Animals At Night” By Jennings Burch
“They Cage The Animals At Night” by Jennings Burch is amazing inspiring memoir. It’s about a boy named Jennings who has to go to many orphanages and foster homes. They are all in different towns and cities. He goes to his first to orphanage not knowing that his mom wasn’t coming back for a long time. He then meets friends, and then he has to say good bye to them when they have to leave. All he wants is to go back home, and even though he knows t...more
Ben The Giggity Goo
They cage the animals at night is a memoir about a boy named Jennings Michael Burch who was a depressed orphan who lived a very disappointing and rough life in Brooklyn. His mom would be very sick, ill and would send Jennings and his 4 brothers into unwelcoming foster homes, orphanages, and institutions. The only thing Jennings had was his stuffed dog that sister Ann let him keep from one of the orphanages. In one experience Jennings was sent to a home with the Carpenters. While eating breakfas...more
Jonnyman yay!
They Cage the Animals at Night , was a very sad memoir, about a boy name Jennings, who gets sent to all of these different orphanages and different foster homes in Brooklyn, New York. He first got sent to one orphanage, without his mom telling him, and while he is there, he goes to a foster home, which only gets him because of the money. He makes a lot of friends, when some of them die, and some of the abandon him. But he make two really good friends, a person named Sal, who is a bus driver, and...more
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“Sister, why do you do that?"
"Do what?"
"Cage the animals at night?"
"Well..." She looked up and out through the barred window before answering me."We don't want to, Jennings, but we have to. You see, the animals that are given to us we have to take care of. If we didn't cage them up in one place, we might lose them, they might get hurt or damaged. It's not the best thing, but it's the only way we have to take care of them."

"But if somebody loved one them," I asked, "wouldn't it be a good idea to let them have one? To keep, I mean?"

"Yes, it would be. But not everyone would love them and take care of them as you would. I wish I could give them all away tomorrow." She looked at me. There were tears in her eyes. "But I can't. My heart would break if I saw just one of those animals lying by the wayside uncared for, unloved. No, Jennings. It's better if we keep them together.”
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