Kathryn's Reviews > Just Another Kid

Just Another Kid by Torey L. Hayden
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Jan 07, 08

Recommended for: Anyone 7th grade and up who likes memoirs that read like a work of fiction.
Read in December, 2008

Just Another Kid is a really good memoir about a teacher who teaches kids with problems.
There's Dirkie, an eleven year old kid who spent most of his life moving from foster home to foster home, and in an institution. He gets really excited about things, and won't let them go. He has obsessions with things like long blond hair, and cats, and will NOT leave them alone, constantly asking drawing and touching his obsessions.
Leslie, a seemingly unwanted child, who lives with her mother and step-father. Her mother is Ladbrooke, a young doctor with a 'screwball name' and an alcoholic. She cheats on her husband with her co-workers, and has a temper when she is drunk. When she was a child, she was abused, and doesn't want the same for Leslie. Leslie's step father is sober, and cares about her. He is a gentle spirit, and seemingly nicer then Ladbrooke. Leslie is unresponsive, doesn't talk, and isn't toilet trained.
Mariana, a child who is strong willed, and smart about things an eight year old shouldn't be smart about. She longs for a best friend, a girl her age, and so picks Geraldine, a refugee from North Ireland who lost everything but her little sister Shemona. Torey describes her as the only one she could occasionally have a sane conversation with. Before Ladbrooke and Shamie that is.
Geraldine and Shemona are inseparable from the start. They are both sisters, and are two years apart (Geraldine is eight and Shemona is six). Geraldine does everything for Shemona, including cutting her food, zipping her up, and making sure she can do everything in her work book. Torey begins to think that Shemona is the queen, and Geraldine is her loyal subject. She begins to suspect different, when Geraldine starts to blame Shemona for the cries that she masterminds, such as stealing Mariana's strawberry scented eraser, and destroying the classroom.
Seamus (or Shamie as he is known in the classroom) is thirteen, and Geraldine and Shemona's cousin, also from battle torn North Ireland. He is there only because the war has twisted him. Shamie is the one with the least problems, and is shy, quiet, and nice. He is the one to leave the classroom for a normal class first, followed by Shemona and Mariana.
Ladbrooke, though an adult has some problems of her own, and asks Torey if she cam help in the classroom, and become an assistant teacher. At first Torey's friend Caroline thinks that Torey is crazy fr accepting Ladbrooke's offer, but as it turns out, it was a good choice, because Torey really needed an assistant teacher, and Ladbrooke needs to work on her alcohol problem.
This book is about how a teacher helps seven people become better, and helps them on their way to sanity.
There is an epilogue, in which Torey shows what happened to the people in this book. The only one not followed is Mariana, who Torey lost track of, and Geraldine, who is somewhere in North Ireland.
It just makes me happy to know that after all the hard work, all the characters got to live a happy stable life, and this memoir shows that one person really can make a difference in the world. Even if it is only a small one.
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Melissa More for adults than for teens.


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