I read this book because my husband and I are interested in adopting an older child. We found it difficult to find books about this topic and were ver...moreI read this book because my husband and I are interested in adopting an older child. We found it difficult to find books about this topic and were very surprised that none of the Barnes and Nobles in our area had even one book on foster care or older adoption. Luckily our local bookstore (Elliot Bay Books) had at least two shelves of adoption books, though most of them are about infant adoption.
I quickly discovered why. Older child adoptions are not the same as the adoptions I had seen on TV and in movies. I thought: you go to an agency, process paperwork, wait a really long time, a kid shows up, interviews, adoption proceedings and despite hard times, they are your son/daughter forever.
Well, its much more complicated than that.
For example, older children's parents are given a 15-month grace period once their child enters the public care system, so that those parents still get a chance to come back and get their kids. This means constant delays in the process to give a kid permanency. Older children in the care system are not only NOT adopted right away, but when they enter foster care, the public system allows a 10-day return policy, where you can actually return your foster child within 10 days, to the serious detriment of the kid's emotional health. And being adopted right away isn't a good idea--Beam details a sight-unseen adoption which falls apart in a matter of months.
Foster care is not a happy subject, and Beam doesn't try to make it one, but she does achieve in making it feel real in its ups and downs. She introduces the reader to a happy foster family with a trove of kids, and lets you follow them across five years, where the true troubles of the foster care system play out, and the happy foster family (the Greens) are slowly unraveled. Some of their adoptions are great--like an open adoption for an infant, where the real father sticks around to stay involved but also keeps distance in case he relapses in his drug addiction. The natural father eventually makes the choice that's best for the child: keep the baby with the family he's already attached to, of which there is no drug addiction. They also have adoptions that "fail" -- such as, adopted kids runaway, get arrested, see their natural born parents and follow in their footsteps into crime or drugs.
The toughest part to read in the book is when she visits residential treatment centers, which are institutions where they send kids in the foster care system who have become violent or are generally troubled. In these centers, the state also sends kids with special needs and disabilities, and kids who are in juvenile detention. Before reading this book, I had a misconception that the traditional orphanage style home, where kids could get structure and be served to scale, was possibly a good idea. I learned I was very wrong. In fact, I learned that most of my assumptions about how to help troubled kids was completely wrong. These centers did nothing for these kids; if anything, it helped them down the path to crime or homelessness.
There is only one assumption I had that turned out to be about true: that unconditional love and a commitment to be the adult that "stays" with a troubled teen, could possibly help these kids begin to recover from a range of indescribable trauma: sexual, physical and mental abuse, a constant feeling of un-wantedness, self-doubt and blame and loss of contact of other family, and ever-present poverty. Beam interviews a foster home that fosters kids aging out or already aged out of the system (21 is the cut-off age where your benefits stop and the state is released of any responsibility to you), with a loose structure based around giving foster kids the space to regress through their trauma and get through it. The foster mom even recalls a 14-year-old that carried and drank from a baby bottle, as if working backwards through growth to relive what they've lost.
Through profiles of dozens of kids, you see a range of outcomes, but most importantly Beam illustrates the whole picture: generations of kids lost and confused, turned out to adulthood with only disastrous consequences, a public welfare system that is prioritized around child safety and structure (here's a roof over your head and rules to follow) instead of attachment (nurture the child to trust and love again) and permanent bonding (finding for kids, that one adult that stays, no matter the struggle).
Lastly, Beam's report of foster care calls into question the first action that society makes -- taking children from their parents. When the reason for splitting up a family is "neglect" and that interpretation is largely subjective and nebulous, it is dubious whether splitting the family apart is the best course of action, given the state of foster care and the effect on the parents. Given the disproportionate investment in a failing system, it'd be worth considering whether the same amount of state investment per child (upwards six figures through a whole foster care stint, which averages 4-5 years) would not be better spent given to invest in improving those natural born families struggling in the first place.
A friend of mine once told me there was a saying that "abortion was the bowling ball on the mattress of American politics." I wonder if it is not abortion, but foster care. In a singular issue, are the beginnings and ends of so many societal problems: crime, homelessness, poverty, drugs, racism and disease. Its a problem that's all of ours, and one that we need to solve.(less)
I found this book to be very valuable. I had read the popular "21-Day Kick Starter Diet" (a low-fat vegan manifesto about resetting your taste buds to...moreI found this book to be very valuable. I had read the popular "21-Day Kick Starter Diet" (a low-fat vegan manifesto about resetting your taste buds to healthier choices) and had tried and failed at the Kick Starter, though I did notice some benefits while I was trying it. So when I came upon another book by Dr. Barnard, I thought I should give his philosophy a second chance.
Breaking the Food Seduction reads very much like a prequel to Kick Starter. It gives you the context to what shapes his philosophy: that a low-fat vegan lifestyle is the healthiest lifestyle for modern people that prevents and reverses disease. He dives into deep detail about the most-loved foods and why we love them so much, and why we're eating way too much of them: sugar, meat, cheese, and chocolate. Most of all, he talks about fat and how Americans are taking in far too much of it. Here are some really useful take-aways I got from this book:
1. Cheese is compressed milk with all of its water squeezed out. What you're left with is a block of fat. Ounce by ounce, cheese has as much (and sometimes more) fat than a steak. 2. It takes three weeks for your taste buds to reset. Only three weeks! 3. Exercise increases your body's ability (through leptin) to manage your appetite accurately. 4. Americans, on average, are gaining a net of one pound a year, and that happens in the 2nd half of the year. The weight gain during the holidays is mostly permanent for the vast majority of Americans.
There is plenty more, but I'll let you read the book. A must read for people like me, who sit in offices all day, commute an hour or more to work, and are interested in understanding how diet affects our body composition.(less)
I am so disappointed in this book. I loved the first book, Divergent, and the second book Insurgent was pretty good as well. I was eager to see where...moreI am so disappointed in this book. I loved the first book, Divergent, and the second book Insurgent was pretty good as well. I was eager to see where Roth took the finale. And the answer is: nowhere.
General complaints about this book: -Gives away the most suspenseful question (what's beyond the fence?) way too soon -Too many main characters and none are developed, confusing the reader -Roth switches between two narrators that sound identical -Too much Danielle-Steele erotica in the young adult love scenes -The explanation of why the factions exist sound like they were written by someone who read a Wikipedia page on genetics and maybe one X-Men movie
Eat and Run is a memoir by the famous ultramarathoner Scott Jurek. It starts with his life growing up in Minnesota with his meat-and-potatoes family,...moreEat and Run is a memoir by the famous ultramarathoner Scott Jurek. It starts with his life growing up in Minnesota with his meat-and-potatoes family, taking care of his siblings and his house while his father worked double shifts and his mother is increasingly debilitated from MS. It follows him through high school and college, where he starts to discover both his love for running and his love for plants and whole grains, and then dives into his adult life of how he won his first Western States 100 mile race, as well as numerous others. Weaved into the story are his personal vegan recipes, running tips and scientific factoids about nutrition, running and health. He also provides a small dose of history of various food and running topics.
I really enjoyed this book. I found it inspiring and insightful, with the perfect blend of personal account and heartache without being preachy or whiny, as well as interesting and forward about veganism without being self-righteous and obnoxious. It astonished me how much one man could accomplish on a whole grains, plant based diet with no processed foods, and on top of that, reporting no joint inflammation (despite all of that pounding of his joints from running hundreds and hundreds of miles at a time!), quicker recovery times and overall great health. It definitely made me reconsider what I thought I knew about protein and health.
Though this book is marketed more heavily on the "Eat" part of "Eat and Run", I'd say this book is primarily about running and what running long distances can do to the heart, body and mind. And that emphasis is a bonus for this book, and I'd recommend it for anyone looking to learn about a personal account of food, exercise and health.(less)
I waited a couple months to write the review for this book, because when I finished reading it, I found myself feeling satisfied with the book but uns...moreI waited a couple months to write the review for this book, because when I finished reading it, I found myself feeling satisfied with the book but unsure how to sum it up. I'm glad I waited to review.
Now that its been a couple months, I'll say this: I barely remember what's in the book. I had to read through the book summary in order to recall the main characters and the plot. I realized that though this book was enjoyable, it was (for me) completely not memorable.
I thought more about why this is the case -- I'm not a baseball fan, I don't have any ties to the midwest -- but I realized that it comes down to the fact this book doesn't actually do or say anything. Its an exploration of five characters, who's lives are entangled, but there are no profound hero journeys, personal revelations, or even memorable friendships and romantic relationships. The book, while incredibly well-written in verse as well as imaginative and an easy-to-read cadence, turns out to be quite forgettable.
I'm giving this book three stars for the fact it was fun to read while I was reading it, and it was beautifully written. I see what all the hype was about in book circles, because Harbach is a young and new-to-the-scene journalist. I'd read another book by him, and hope that it manages to capture me in a more permanent way.(less)
Its interesting to read the rollercoaster of reviews for this book, ranging from sheer disgust to radical feminist joy. I'd say my reaction leans towa...moreIts interesting to read the rollercoaster of reviews for this book, ranging from sheer disgust to radical feminist joy. I'd say my reaction leans towards the latter, and I put an extra star in my rating for the fact I literally cried while laughing at every story with Shoniqua.
I loved how this book made me squirm and laugh out loud at the same time. Though you would think a book all about a woman's one night stands would be awful and then preachy at some point, Handler pulls off comedy and memoir in an honest and hilarious way.
A quick, fun read for anyone who is not easily offended and has half of a spirit of raunchy fun in them. An taste (and warning) of what you're in for:
“He was all emotion all the time, constantly talking about his feelings and his profound love for her. He was minutes from getting his first period. He wrote poems too. It's my personal belief that if men are writing poems, they're making up for something else like a big hair back, or one ball. Not that one ball is a bad thing. Especially since I don't know any females who are dying to their their hands on a set of balls. The way I see it, the less balls, the better.” (less)
Confession: I love Seattle. I moved up here, started my life and it has been a great experience. So I picked up Semple's book to read local fiction in...moreConfession: I love Seattle. I moved up here, started my life and it has been a great experience. So I picked up Semple's book to read local fiction in a local setting. I was in for a rude surprise.
Semple spends 95% of the book dumping on Seattle: its weather, culture, people and history. She pokes fun at every aspect of it, take note:
“Sometimes these cars have Idaho plates. And I think, What the hell is a car from Idaho doing here? Then I remember, That’s right, we neighbor Idaho. I’ve moved to a state that neighbors Idaho. And any life that might still be left in me kind of goes poof.” – Bernadette
All the while, she sets up her main character as a self-involved, self-pitying and self-destructive LA transplant. She does this with spunky, tongue-in-the-cheek writing that is well-paced, interesting and hard to put down. I enjoyed this book the way you might enjoy a quirky aunt who makes you laugh but also slaps you across the face every 15 minutes.
"Where'd You Go Bernadette" is a mystery drama-comedy about an older woman who disappears the day her family is set to travel to the South Pole. The book traces the events leading up to her disappearance through emails, bills, police reports, as they are discovered by her 15-year-old daughter, Bee. Semple does a great job switching voices and shaping characters through this jumble of evidence.
All in all, this is a fun and easy read and I'd recommend it to anyone who likes mysteries that unfold in an unusual and interesting way. You have to also have a high tolerance for the problems of super wealthy white people. Enjoy!(less)
This was an amusing work of nonfiction, but it felt a bit pointless (which is ironic, because reading actual Proust can feel that way too). I liked th...moreThis was an amusing work of nonfiction, but it felt a bit pointless (which is ironic, because reading actual Proust can feel that way too). I liked the tongue-in-cheek humor but the writing was so deliberately drawn out (again, I'm sure for the added twist of irony), that I felt like the writer was wasting my time. I also thought there would be more inspiring moments in here -- and there were maybe two. Would not recommend.(less)