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Three Little Words: A Memoir
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Three Little Words: A Memoir

4.09 of 5 stars 4.09  ·  rating details  ·  5,738 ratings  ·  899 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
ebook, 320 pages
Published June 20th 2008 by Atheneum Books for Young Readers (first published January 8th 2008)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Melissa
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.
Sharon
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
Cindy
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
...more
Maureen Flatley
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
Eva Leger
Apr 26, 2009 Eva Leger rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  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
...more
george
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
Amber
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.
S. Gari
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
Trina
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
...more
Bethany
Well, I gained some insight into what foster kids go through. But this is also a rags to riches story - a lucky break for one foster child. What about the thousands of others who do not get out?

A sad commentary on the dysfunction of our social services system. Why would society prefer traumatizing and destroying kids, rather than helping their mothers keep them? Why is there absolutely no concern for the kids having these kids? A lot of blame and disdain aimed at the struggling teenage mother w
...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
...more
Abby
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
...more
Erin
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
...more
Brooke
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 wi
...more
Sue
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
Paige Kinnaird
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."
Jamie
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.
Karen
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
Joe
What is foster care really like? There are always exceptions, but Ashley Rhodes-Courter introduces us to the dark extreme of the system where the people we thought we could trust to look after neglected children and youth are sometimes worse than the homes from which they were removed.

Three years after reading this book, the story remains compelling. I only give 5 stars to books I'm highly likely to revisit, but if I never open this one up again, it's only because the account is startling in its
...more
Christa
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.
Iman K.
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erinbobarin94
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Khornberger
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
...more
Bryana
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
Caitlin
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
Teddi
If you want to read a lucid, precise and well written first-hand account of being in foster care - this is the book for you! Ashley Rhodes-Courter has been to hell and back in the foster care system and lived to write her story. I guess it could have been worse, but what she lived to tell about was bad enough. The saddest part was simply her being lost in the system and left to slip through the cracks. The good news is that she does end up being adopted by a good family and learns to love and he ...more
Grace
Mar 09, 2014 Grace rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Teens
Recommended to Grace by: Library peeps
Three Little Words is one of those books that makes you feel mixed emotions throughout the book: a feeling of neglect and confusion in the beginning, a feeling of animosity towards some certain individuals in the middle, and that warm fuzzy feeling you get when you finish a happy ending.

What really striked me as I was reading was that this story was real. Real kids whose parents ditched them because they were a "mistake". Real, annoying, foster parents. Real, sadistic abusers. It just makes you
...more
Zanthia
This book is both troubling and inspiring. This is a memoir discussing Ashley’s trials and tribulations as a youth in the Florida Foster care system. My heart went out to her. In the first three years of her life, Ashley, endured more than most people endure their entire lives and she experienced quite a bit more during the next nine years of her life. We here the stories of adults coming from nothing and making a success of their lives, but this is a child experiencing less than nothingness who ...more
Cherry
Amazing (and heartbreaking) story of one person's experience in Florida's foster care system. We will soon be opening our home to children in state custody, and this book touched my heart. It really made me think about the "small" things I can do as role model and mentor for these children. And how each experience (good or bad) sticks...for life. It was also an important read for better understanding where behaviors come from. As an adult she can reflect on her behavior as a reaction to a specif ...more
Jus.cheye
i am almost at the end.she has won many awards for her drawings and other contests.she is 10 years old and has been to about 14 different foster homes so far she is meeting a family that wants to adopt her. but she still misses her mother calling her sunshine.her little brother Luke has also an adoptive family,but is not going to live far from his big sister Ashley.right now Ashley has to go through many visitations from the family before she can spend the night at their house.the judge has sig ...more
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875597
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.” 2 likes
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