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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  ·  5,371 ratings  ·  483 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
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
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
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
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
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
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
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
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
They Cage The Animals At Night is an autobiography about Jenning’s troubled childhood. He goes through many things a child should never go through. Beginning at the age of eight and a half he went to the very first, of many, foster homes he would be in. It was all so strange to him but he found a very good friend he knew he would always be able to count on, a stuffed animal whom he named ‘Doggie’. Along his whole journey he finds everyone leaves his side except for Doggie. Doggie is with Jenning ...more
Nathan Oakley
May 08, 2014 Nathan Oakley added it
Shelves: hated
This book doesn't even get one star from me.

I hated this book! This was THE most depressing and cruel books that I have ever read in my entire life. It was just one bad thing after another. There was no stability in this kids life at all. He goes to about 3 or 4 different orphanages. His mom gets sick or tired or was too weak to support him so he keeps having to go back to the orphanages. Once he starts making friends in the orphanages he has to leave because his mom picks him up. Then, once he
Ansley Wallace
The book "They Cage the Animals at Night" by Jennings Michael Burch was a pretty good book. Yes, it was very sad and made you look at and appreciate things more/differently but I think thats a good thing and we all need to reevaluate things every now and then. I think Burch wrote and told the story well and it made it even better of a book that it was his autobiography. I could really feel all of his emotions and everything that he was going through, through his words. I think the book was very ...more
The tale of Jennings Michael Burch is an autobiography about Jennings learning to survive in different foster homes. He is constantly being left by different people in his life and can only find constant love from one thing, a stuffed animal he names 'Doggie'. Doggie is given to Jennings in his first foster home, when he was eight and a half. Jennings takes Doggie everywhere with him and talks to him when he has no one else to. Jennings is ridiculed, abused and neglected throughout his childhood ...more
Kerrie Mccoy
"They Cage the Animals at Night" was a really good book. My heart broke a lot during reading this because I felt like I was him, and like the bad things were happening to me. I couldn't relate with Jennings because I never went to a foster home, but I did feel really bad for him. When I first started reading this book I did not realize that it was an autobiography, however when I found out that it was it blew my mind. My favorite character that helped Jennings get through the tough times was the ...more
Faith Brantley
They cage the animals at night is LITERALLY one of THE WORST books i have ever read. The book lacked any kind of depth and the characters are enough to get under anyone's skin. the books only reedeming feature is a save few, lovable and relatable characters like Sal. Nonetheless, this book literally made me want to puke with its disgusting, vivid descriptions of beatings and abuse at the orphanages and the brattiness of the main character.

Unfortunately, the actual antagonist of this book to me
Emily Person
Okay... so, this book was incredibly depressing, not to mention the fact that it was based on the author's personal experiences! Yes, it was well written, however I can't get passed all the horrendous things Jennings had to go through!


Like, how he was removed from his home and taken to an orphanage more than once! He slowly lost his closest brother to an illness and the others to alcohol. He had to endure straight up evil temporary parents. He attempted to live on the s
Ramonita Rodriguez
a sad, poignant story of a little boy's quest to love and be loved...moving from foster home, orphanages, group homes, running away, a dysfunctional birth family...his only belongings being a small trash bag filled with is possessions, a change of clothes and the only one entity in his life whom was present throughout his life, his stuffed toy whom he called Doggy.He experienced physical, emotional and mental abuse at the hands of those who were supposed to take care of him, and he broke many ti ...more
Cameron Dunlap
This book is a good book but at the same time it's a bad book. Jennings had a terrible life as a child and I can't imagine how he survived or even have motivation to keep hisself going but he also taught me something, that anything you do don't quit even if you get knocked down a lot keep getting up. If you did not know this, this is a true story and everything that happen in that book was from real life, nothing was added or anything, everything that happen in that book happened. Jennings went ...more
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jonny Person
Okay, so this book has me very emotionally torn. On the plus side, Jennings Michael Burch did a fantastic job of writing this book from his own personal experiences. The story flowed very well, and the way he wrote really helped you sympathize with the characters and connect with each one of them. ON THE NEGATIVE SIDE, this book was very depressing and I hate sad books. After I read this book I hated life and all the child abusers in the world and wanted to shoot them all. Like are you kiddeen m ...more
Shea Kiser
This book was well written but there were too many bad things happening right after another to this little boy that it made the book bad. The story was good other than everything bad happened right after another and the end left you hanging. He finds a dad but what else happens in his life? it just ends right after he gets picked up at the zoo. I would only recommend this book if you are interested in other books like this one. This book made people very sad in our class and we as a whole did no ...more
Kayla Starnes
I did not like this book very well. I hate sad books, expecialy If it is about a child. it broke my heart at some points in the book, it made me start crying. some parts were to just to awful that I would just skip to the next chapter so I wouldn't have to read the part. the way that Jennings Michael Burch tells his story makes you take a second and appreciate what you have and who you have. one day just out of the blue Jennings mom takes to him a orphanage and never comes back. after that, he m ...more
Kayla Evett
I personally hated this book. I think one of the main reasons why I didnt like it is because I had to read it at school. Dont get me wrong its better than most school assigned reading books, but it was so terribly sad that it made me upset for the rest of my day at school. I couldnt stop thinking about how bad I felt for Jennings. I also did not like how the plot of the story never had a happy moment. I feel almost like you had no choice but to feel sorry for the character because time after tim ...more
Alexis Ollis
I really loved this book! I felt as if I could relate to Jennings because many people have been in foster care in my family. I usually do not like sad books, but this book caught me by surprise. It kept me engaged and I couldn't keep the book down. I love how Jennings stayed strong and overcame many obstacles! My favorite thing in the whole book was how he used his stuffed animal as a means of strength. I didn't figure out that this was a true story in till the end of the book, and that made me ...more
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
Samuel Hargrove
they Cage the nimals at night is the story of a young boy's childhood and what he went through. the boys name is Jennings. his mother gets sick and Jennings gets put into foster homes and orphanages. jennings goes through his childhood and we see as he deals with poverty, sickness, and unfairness.but I hated this book! this was the most depressing and cruel books that I have ever read in my entire life. It was just one bad thing after another. There was no stability in his life at all . i felt l ...more
AJ Watts
They Cage the Animals at Night by Jennings Michael Burch is an autobiography about the hardships the author encounters as his family undergoes social, financial and emotional struggles. The story starts with young Jennings being taken to an orphanage because his mother is sick. To make matters worse, one of his temporary monitors is Sister Frances, an irascible nun who isn’t afraid to use physical contact to get her point across. He’s lost in a world filled with clickers and mealtimes until he m ...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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