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Three Little Words

4.13  ·  Rating Details ·  8,159 Ratings  ·  1,160 Reviews
"Sunshine, you're my baby and I'm your only mother. You must mind the one taking care of you, but she's not your mama." Ashley Rhodes-Courter spent nine years of her life in fourteen different foster homes, living by those words. As her mother spirals out of control, Ashley is left clinging to an unpredictable, dissolving relationship, all the while getting pulled deeper a ...more
Audio CD, 9 pages
Published January 1st 2008 by Blackstone Audiobooks
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Megs Follett Not just mistreatment but the conflict between biological parents and foster/adoptive parents and the struggle the child often endures at the…moreNot just mistreatment but the conflict between biological parents and foster/adoptive parents and the struggle the child often endures at the ignorance or literal denial and ignoring of the adults involved - the problems within the system, the whole thing. The continual feeling of rejection and torn loyalty. (note - I have NOT read this book - I am going from personal experience as a double rejected birth and adopted child and what I have been told / read up about this book and the amazing brave author)(less)
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Community Reviews

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Feb 27, 2008 Melissa rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I cried, I got angry and in the end, I was so proud of the author and her adoptive family.

This book reminded me that I have a bigger calling yet to attack.

Children in foster care need to be heard but the world doesn't want to listen. Therefore, I know I will one day speak on their behalf.
Maureen Flatley
Mar 29, 2008 Maureen Flatley rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I have had the great good fortune to know Ashley since shortly after she went to live with the family that ultimately adopted her. The book is the horrifying and inspiring story of her life in foster care, her cautious transition into a permanent family and her deeply provocative commentary on the state of child welfare in America. Thankfully, she has processed her harrowing childhood into some of the most powerful advocacy I have ever seen. This book is a must for anyone who cares about childre ...more
May 29, 2008 Sharon rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: adoption, foster-care
Given that this is the first book of a very young author, I was impressed at how good the writing was. Rhodes-Courter tells her story in a direct way, using a "show me, don't tell me" approach. The simple facts of her numerous placements, the maltreatment in some of her placements, and the negligence of some of the child protective services (CPS) authorities alone are enough to make a reader understand how angry and desolate she must have felt, and why it took a long time for her to trust her ad ...more
May 30, 2008 Cindy rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: memoir
Memoirs are my favorite books and this book is one of the reasons why. Ashley Rhodes-Courter was taken into the foster care system at the age of 3 and subsequently passed from place to place while supposedly under the watchful eyes of Child Protective Services. All the while longing for a home, a family and mostly her mother. She writes about the continued neglect, lies and abuse that she endured but also the kindness of strangers (who ultimately saved her) along the way.
Through the eyes of a c
Feb 18, 2017 Fiona rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: library-books
I like another reviewer got upset and angry at this book. And incredibly frustrated. However, it was amazing to see that by the end, the author is where she belongs, with people who truly love her. She has a accomplished so much and fought so long to be heard. This should be read.
Oct 12, 2009 Sue rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
The great thing about memoirs is that they are true! As a foster parent for the past 20 years I was interested in reading this story by Ashley who was placed in Florida foster care at the age of 3 and into a pre-adopt home when she was 10. In that time she had 19 foster parents before someone "chose" her. What plays over and over in my mind is that she doesn't blame her mother, she blames the state for not channeling the money that they paid to her caregivers instead of her mom who could have do ...more
S. Gari
Jan 21, 2015 S. Gari rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is more than a memoir. It's a call to action. "Three Little Words" was given to me by a friend who applied for a CASA position. She said, "Read this book and you'll know the importance of what court appointed advocates can do for children in the foster-care system." The story kept me up late at night, yearning to see Ashley rise above her situation, fighting her way to find her voice. It left me cheering for her and outraged that so many children have to navigate such hell to find a home. T ...more
Eva Leger
Jan 29, 2009 Eva Leger rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone interested in foster care, child abuse, good memoirs, etc.
Recommended to Eva by: found it myself
This author does a fantastic job of telling the world what she went through during the time she was a ward of the state. I can't begin to list all of the ways that her family, her "professionals" that were on her side, and society in general, failed her. She does a great job of it herself in her book.
This isn't the kind of book that can grab just certain kinds of people either and it isn't a "downer", despite what some may think. This woman has overcome odds that most of us have never even seen
Joyce Yattoni
Dec 07, 2016 Joyce Yattoni rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
19 foster homes before age 14. The sad thing is Ashley Rhodes is just one of the many kids in the United States who are taken from homes due to abusive parents or sadly, abandoned by negligent parents and put in the foster care system. This novel is a memoir and I am very happy that I listened to this book since the narrator is Ashley Rhodes, the foster child who eventually gets adopted and finds her forever family. You talk about angry. Ashley had every right to be angry as it seemed like the v ...more
Sabrina Rutter
This is one of those books that makes you wish you had the power to change the world in an instant. I must say it's a danm shame when the system neglects the neglected children. I had to sit the book aside a few times because I couldn't see past my tears.
Firstly and this is just my opinion, the kids should have been left with their mother. Not everyone is perfect and educated. Some people make mistakes, but that doesn't mean they should loose their children. As soon as their mom got out of jail
Without a doubt Ashley had a difficult, abusive and lonely childhood. Her story was heartbreaking and at many times throughout her memoir I was tearing up. However, my issue with the book...

NOT all case workers and social workers are negligent, incompetent and useless.
NOT all foster parents are abusive, pedophiles, and in it for the money.

The system has many flaws but there are good and kind hearted people within it. I know many children don’t get to see them but they are there working hard
Apr 13, 2011 Amber rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction
I hate this book. What makes the book awful for me is to know that actual English teachers are using it in the classroom. I can't imagine that there are not better and worthwhile books to read in class. I'm appalled that "beach" reads such as this one area assigned for classroom study. No wonder our students are not prepared for college. I am for more modern reads for the classroom, but it needs to have more literary merit than this.
Imagine living in fourteen different foster homes in nine years--sometimes with your younger brother, sometimes never knowing if you will see him again. Imagine yearning for your mother but never knowing when you might be able to see her. Imagine living in tight, cramped quarters with other foster kids who often taunt you and destroy your belongings. Imagine the fear of not knowing if the next placement will have nice parents, or cruel ones. Imagine never being able to trust any adult because th ...more
Kendall R
"Three Little Words" is a very touching memoir that really kept me wanting to read more. The author, Ashley Rhodes-Courter is a young lady that went through more in her first 13 years than many people will go through in their entire lives! I felt real emotion when reading this book, I truly felt bad for this little girl. Her story made me realize that I should not complain about my life and that I have it GREAT compared to lots of other children in the world.
Ashley lived the first couple years
Jun 30, 2013 Erin rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is going on my foster-care "must read" list. For understanding the child's perspective (they understand more than the adults think) and for truly understanding why a foster child might behave in certain ways, this was much more effective than the 35 hours of foster parent training we went through. I also far better understand now why the foster parent certification process must be so intrusive, so plodding, so bureaucratic.

The "three little words" referenced in the title are not the ones y

When I read Ashley Rhodes-Courter’s memoir, Three Little Words, I felt like I was like a sibling living her life along with her. This memoir takes place along her journey of foster care and her begining of her adoption. This took place from the beginning of her life until she was 21. The reason why she wrote this memoir is because she wants to share her experience in foster care and how a children in that system need to be adopted.
When Ashley was 3 years old she began foster care. When Ashley’s
Jul 02, 2012 Trina rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Who COULDN'T find themselves rooting for Ashley?!? And I loved knowing where she ended up in life and I was reading where she came from. What an amazing come up!

Another of those stories/books that REALLY piques my interest in foster care and adoption. Something our family has always talked about doing someday. With my own sister being in foster care and adopted by my parents, I saw a lot of terrible situations. And I saw how unequipped my parents were to handle the emotional issues that came wit
Barbara Hale
Aug 03, 2015 Barbara Hale rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: book-club-2
Born to a poor, young mother, who was purportedly unable to care for her children, Ashley Rhodes-Courter was removed from her home at age 3 and spent the next nine years in the foster care system. At age 12, she was finally adopted. This memoir tells of her lonely, and often horrific, journey through a system that is seriously flawed. One theme that resonated so strongly with me, and which Ashley points out more than once, is that we have a system in this country which is willing to pay stranger ...more
Apr 01, 2009 Abby marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
My neighbor went through training to become a foster parent for babies while moms try to get their act together. I met another foster mom like here when she was babysitting an 18 month old for her (they are only allowed to have babysitters who are also trained/registered with the state) and I decided it is impossibly hard to be either a foster kid or a foster parent.

The kids go from home to home, but they don't have a HOME. I mean, I may have stayed somewhere else or gone to a summer camp growin
Ann Larson
Jan 29, 2016 Ann Larson rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2016, print, memiors-bio-s
"Three Little Words" was a very emotional memior. It wasn't at the same level as "The Glass Castle" by Jeanette Walls or "Black Boy" by Richard Wright, but it still did captivate me. I debated between four and five stars (I take ratings seriously). I went with five because of how emotionally-invested with the story I became.

I took this book off my shelf today just to look at it, started reading it, and was a 150 pages in before I took a break. The writer definitely has a way with pulling the re
Jul 10, 2014 Suzy rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a biographic recount of a girl who spent most of her childhood years in foster care and orphanages. I am not sure how old Ashley was when she wrote this, but she was young. This smart, brave kid learned to cope in some unbelievable environments and she writes about them as a matter of course..There is no question of her honesty. I cared about her so much, she was in my thoughts when I couldn't be reading.
Paige Kinnaird
Jun 25, 2011 Paige Kinnaird rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2011-books-read
An amazing story of fortitude and resilience. Breaks my heart that so many children in our country are forced to deal with living conditions that are deplorable and relationships that are harmful. To make a difference in the lives of children - a positive difference - is truly a gift that no one should discredit.

A wonderful quote from the novel that the author used in a speech. The quote is by Moliere, "It is not only what we do, but also what we do not do, for which we are accountable."
I think that teens will find this one as another in the like "A Child Called It." it will be interesting to see if Ashley rhodes-courter continues to write - I'd like to hope so. Sometimes it seems a little too unpolished (like I have room to talk!) but there are some real gems.

the book was so sad though, as she came into contact with so many children in/from awful situations and you know that the real world is that times about a zillion.
Sep 13, 2012 Christa rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
I really loved this book. I strangely enjoy reading books like this. One that puts you through the abuse. It makes you think about how great your life is. Everyone should read this book and get a feeling of how it was like for Ashley.
Oct 01, 2016 N.E.S rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book is all about a little girl named Ashley Rhodes. She went through 14 different foster homes. Some of them very abusive. For example, if you misbehave in Mrs. Moss foster home... you get to squat in the corner of the room, or run 20 laps, or get hot sauce shoved down your throat.

I could't believe this was based on a true story.

This book was really made me feel grateful......I keep wondering were I would be at age 13 without support from my family.... and right now, I'm sta
Nov 27, 2012 Caitlin rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: lolwut
When Ashley was only three her and her brother were taken from her mother, and placed into the care of foster parents. Some of her foster parents had been fine, but among others they would torture and make the children suffer when they were supposed to be giving them care. One of the worse foster parents would beat Ashley, make them do too much physical labor, and made them drink hot sauce if they ever did anything bad. After leaving that foster home she goes to a nicer family who cares for Ashl ...more
Iman K.
Nov 12, 2009 Iman K. rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Apr 26, 2014 Karen rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: memoir
The story of a young girl who is abandoned by her mother, who still does not know who biological father, who was placed in foster care which on the whole was disastrous, ends up finding her adoptive family - or rather her adoptive family finds her - and begins the process of recovery from the neglect and abuse received while in the system. Although stories appear in the news frequently about these "lost" children, it's difficult to understand just how bad the abuse can be, the lasting, long-term ...more
Sep 22, 2011 Khornberger rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This nonfiction book chronicles the life of Ashley Rhodes-Courter as she grew up in the foster care system. Ashley began foster care at the age of three and relied on many of her records to convey her earlier story. However, much of the detail is embedded into her memory as it was very disturbing for her as she constantly switched placements and was continuously pulled away and reunited with her brother.

This was a very difficult read for me. Ashley honestly conveyed her behaviors as a troubled
Jun 13, 2011 Bryana rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
This book really is highly life changing. I have read A Child called It and The Glass Castle and it does have very much in common with those books, but this one was my favorite. I cried at some parts of Ashley's story, happy and sad, at some points it really was hard to believe that her story happened in real life. As i know childern who were adopted and they are in great homes. What this little girl went through really hit me hard but her story was wonderfully told. I think my favrotie part of ...more
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Ashley Rhodes-Courter is the quintessential American success story. Born in 1985 to a single teen mother, by the age of 3 she was in Florida’s foster care system where she spent almost ten years being shuttled between 14 homes—some quite abusive—before being adopted from a Children’s Home at the age of twelve. Early in her life she felt compelled to advocate for herself and the other children she ...more
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“I journeyed alone for almost ten years before I found home. Adoptions are like very delicate gardening with transplants and grafts. Mine took hold, rooted, and bloomed, even though there were inevitable adjustments to the new soil and climate. Yet I have not forgotten where my roots started.” 6 likes
“Your Mother is a hard act to follow. She will always be the love of your life” 3 likes
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