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Another Place at the Table

4.19  ·  Rating details ·  2,209 ratings  ·  282 reviews
The startling and ultimately uplifting narrative of one woman's thirteen-year experience as a foster parent.

For more than a decade, Kathy Harrison has sheltered a shifting cast of troubled youngsters-the offspring of prostitutes and addicts; the sons and daughters of abusers; and teenage parents who aren't equipped for parenthood. All this, in addition to raising her three
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Paperback, 242 pages
Published June 1st 2004 by Tarcherperigee (first published 2003)
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Erin
Dec 27, 2012 rated it it was amazing
This was a really difficult book to read. Harrison has been foster mother to over 100 children, and here she details her experiences over just a few years and with a small selection of foster children. In chapter one, a midnight phone call brings Harrison a 10 month old with neck bruises and one eye swollen shut. This is a picture of my son at 10 months, to help you place that age:
description
This is a really, really difficult book to read.

There tend to be two depictions of foster parenting:
1. These child
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Wendy Hall
Apr 11, 2012 rated it liked it
As a therapeutic foster mother myself, I found some of her honesty refreshing about some of the mistakes she had made (most notably the princess crown). And some of her feelings were good for me to hear (that she shouldn't adopt a child that doesn't feel like "her" child after many years in the home).

However, much of this book was alarming to me. How the state of Massachusetts can allow such high numbers of children in one house is unbelievable to me. At times, although the writing was confusing
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Hayley
Pre-Review Note: I write this review as a current foster mother myself. I'm familiar with the current DSS system and the realities of foster care vs the ideal of foster care. And I have some Negative Thoughts about this book.

RECIPE:
1 grown adult woman with some sort of complex that compels her to take on specifically difficult foster child cases in numbers no sane person would take on if they wanted to give each child the attention they needed and the protection from added abuse they deserved

2 f
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Emily
Jan 17, 2015 rated it really liked it
What I appreciated most about this book was the author's honesty. It is difficult to be honest when you're writing/talking about something that people want to idealize. When someone wants to call you a saint for taking foster kids, it isn't necessary your first inclination to tell them about all of your mistakes. My husband and I have gotten a different picture from our foster care classes and I think that her experiences were a bit more old school fostering--overcrowding, birth parents as adver ...more
Diane Mueller
Oct 20, 2011 rated it really liked it
"We couldn't help but wish there had been another, less painful option to foster care. it felt odd to entangle ourself in a system...(that) seemed to do as much harm as good. I found it difficult to even identify myself as a foster parent. The press was so bad..." (Harrison, 7).
As a former parent to teen girls and their babies I could identify with Kathy Harrison's words. Being a foster parent was one of the most painful things I ever did, yet one of the best.
This book will help those who are
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Lisa (Liken Books)
Nov 10, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-in-2017
This is a fantastic book if you want to learn about foster parents, the social services system, the hardship of dealing with children with a wide range of issues.

Love the honesty that Harrison displayed in this novel, sharing both the good and bad parts of being a foster parent. Her and her husband were remarkable in taking in kids from newborns to teens by opening their home, hearts and family to them. They climbed through many obstacles, some even dangerous and made many sacrifices. I really
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Morgan Ashley
Sep 11, 2016 rated it it was amazing
This book is so beautiful and is an inspiration to do good in the world, whether that task is big or small.
Sarah
Dec 04, 2013 rated it liked it
If I had read this book without knowing a foster parent in real life, I would have been too terrified to ever even dream of considering fostering. Fortunately, I do know a real life foster parent and her experiences have not been anything like the crazy things Kathy Harrison dealt with. I really hope this book does not scare any potential foster parents out of at least seeking out more information about what fostering could be like.

I was trying to keep track of how many kids Kathy had. At one po
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Sara
May 08, 2017 rated it really liked it
This was a quick read for me. I was immediately hooked & almost read the entire book in one day.
I have great admiration for Kathy & Bruce. Fostering has been on my heart for years. I keep waiting for my children to get a little older.

I loved Kathy's honesty when it came to feeling connected w/ the children in her care & whether it made sense for them to stay or move on. IMO, if one child is affecting the harmony or safety of the rest of the family you must consider the larger equat
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Teddi
Jan 13, 2009 rated it really liked it
This book was, for me, something that needed to be read a long time ago...and yet this was the perfect time for me to read it! Written by a foster mom who has cared for more than 100 children - she has found humor, love and bravery in doing the most mundane and humane job. I found the book enlightening about the foster care system and as someone currently in the system, I found validation. I laughed some, cried some and found myself getting angry a lot as she shares her experiences with a system ...more
Kara
Jul 05, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: read-nonfiction
This book is amazing. It's hard, it's painful, it's heartwrenching. I finished it in less than 24 hours.
So often I think that in the US we forget about the children here. About the fact that children here suffer at the hands of those who are supposed to love and care for them, and that there is a broken system filled with all sorts of people trying to work things out. Not all families are like the one in this book, but I hope this book inspires more people to become like them.
It's realistic and
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Cindy
Dec 26, 2009 rated it really liked it
Shelves: adoption
I shouldn't read books like this. It just makes me want to foster and adopt all the more. I'll just have to move to Mass. with the author of the book so I can do just that since Pennsylvania is so strict about this 6 child policy. Bureaucrats should not control the lives of children and those families that want to take them in, even if they already have 6 kids.
Stephanie Miguel
Jan 20, 2013 rated it really liked it
Honest, courageous, straightforward writing
Rebecca (whenallotherlightsgoout)
Really hard book to read, but one that will certainly stay with me.
More to come...
Kate Elliott
Jul 20, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Raw. Unfiltered. Uncomfortable. Heart-wrenching. Necessary.
Koren
Jan 02, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: adolescent, adoption
This is about a family that takes in foster children that are more difficult than some. There are good moments and bad and the author readily admits mistakes she made and moments where she maybe didnt do the best thing. After reading this, you can see why the states have a hard time finding good foster homes. It is not an easy job. This would be a good book for someone who is thinking about becoming a foster parent. I liked that the author touched on the abuse and/or neglect the children had end ...more
Amber (bookstacksamber)
Really disappointed that I couldn't finish this one. It came highly recommended from several lists of suggested books for people interested in becoming foster parents.

The author uses the R-word very liberally throughout the book to describe some of the children in her care. I gave her the benefit of the doubt at first because I realize this is an older read and politically correct terminology changes over time. But as the book progressed, the word started to feel less like a descriptor and more
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Sarah
May 11, 2012 rated it really liked it
As someone who is interested in being a foster patent and/or adopting, this book went on my to-read list because I figured it would paint a better picture o what it takes to be a foster family. That it did! After finishing the book, my desire to serve vulnerable children only increased and has also become more realistic. The author is super honest about what she and her family has experienced, describing their failures and successes. She talks about the children she has fostered and adopted, des ...more
Susan Roden
Mar 26, 2018 rated it it was amazing
OMG - I loved this.
Non-fiction, truth is always more brutal, incredible, unbelievable, fantastic, realistic than any fiction could pretend to be.
The author and her husband are foster parents in Massachusetts, 1990's.
The date is only relevant in that this is pre-cell phone and computers everywhere.
People probably don't change so much, although we like to dream that humankind is improving.
Poverty, ignorance and violence beget poverty, ignorance and violence.
In some cases, breakthroughs can be achi
...more
Kara Lucas
Mar 20, 2013 rated it it was amazing
It can be hard to describe to prospective adoptive parents what it is like, really, to be a former foster child or what it is like to parent one. The intricacies of the foster care system can be very difficult to describe, and each child comes with his or her own unique story and set of challenges. It doesn't help that there are so many erroneous portrayals out there in the media, with the pendulum swinging wildly from portrayals of Pollyana-esque children grateful to be adopted to budding socio ...more
Alyssa
Aug 23, 2017 rated it liked it
I had a hard time reviewing this book. It's certainly not for the faint of heart and gives a very real, very candid look at the realities of foster care and social services. Kathy and her husband Bruce have been in the trenches for years and have seen it all. I know they fostered in the 90's, before there was adequate trauma trainings and laws to protect parents who do t know how to say "no". However, I think she bit off more than she could chew on a regular basis - that's how she lives her life ...more
Gayle Swift
Sep 16, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Kathy Harrison peels back the curtain to reveal the heart-wrenching world life as a foster parent. She shares the stories of a few of the 100 kids she has sheltered. Her narrative is not prurient or pollyana.
She describes the difficult work of assisting kids who've been abused or neglecte--dealing with crushed spirits, extremely challenging behavior, developmental delays and other fallout from the various traumas these kids face. She walks the tightrope of hating the horrid circumstances that
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Rachel
Jun 23, 2017 rated it liked it
It was insightful read for sure...but given the overwhelmingly positive reviews, I personally found it a bit lacking. The author's heart for children is certainly admirable and her lifestyle is incredibly sacrificial - yet it seems like her identity is all wrapped up in being a foster mom, that she takes pride in taking on difficult children. I'm sure to some extent that makes her incredibly gifted for the job, but I don't think anything or anyone should become our identity or our sense of worth ...more
Librariann
Aug 15, 2011 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2011, adult, memoir
THEN, you read a book like this and you're like "HO SHIT, IF I GET A FOSTER KID THEY WILL MAKE ANOTHER KID STICK TOYS UP THEIR VAGINAS"

This book made me think that Rebecca (of fosterhood) had it right when she decided to only take in three kids, one at a time, and provide for their support. Although I admire people who feel the calling to take in children without homes, Kathy's experiences didn't make me admire her or her family. It simply made me wish that she had "stopped at six" and spared s
...more
Rachel B
Aug 27, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Prospective foster parents, and anyone who knows a foster parent or a child in foster care
Kathy Harrison tells the story of her experiences foster parenting in gut-wrenchingly honest prose. We all hear horror stories of foster care in the news and they seem so far removed from our everyday lives, but it is Kathy's normal. I appreciated her honesty and her fairness in assessing the children, the birth and foster parents, the professionals, and the system in general. She is quick to point out the bad, as well as the good. She is humble and graceful, and forthright about her own failing ...more
Audra
Dec 24, 2012 rated it it was amazing
A very touching memoir, written beautifully and from the heart, without sugarcoating the challenges that come from supporting children within the social services system. Kathy manages to be completely real about the stories of her children, while still respecting each and every one of them. Never once does this memoir come across as exploitative, but instead touches on the heartfelt challenges of being a parent and foster parent. I highly recommend to anyone considering being a foster parent, bu ...more
Kelsey Shenk
Feb 14, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I don't know the right words to praise this book. Raw. Real. Horrific. Depressing. Tangible. Hopeful. Empowering. Sobering. Eye opening. Challenging. Encouraging. Uplifting. Anyone who is considering foster care should read this book. It helps answer a lot of questions; takes the scales off the "glory" view of foster care and replaces it with a realness that makes you sick but also motivates you to get in right alongside the author and be a foster parent. So much need and so much hurt. This book ...more
Leslie
May 09, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2012-so-far
I'm giving this three stars but for writing it would be two stars. I also think it was hard to connect with because the author spent such little time on so many subjects. So it was hard to actually connect with the children listed. And I wanted to know more about their back stories and more about their lives after. I realize though that some of this was most likely due to privacy and the fact that the author doesn't know what happened to them. still you have to admire this lady and her husband f ...more
Alexa
Jul 05, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: nonfiction
It's sort of ridiculous to say "I liked it" with this book. I didn't like it. I did devour it--I read it in less than a day. It's not particularly well-written, but it's certainly serviceable. This is definitely one that's more about the subject matter than the artistry of the language.

It's honest, which makes it uncomfortable to say the least, and although this particular family and this specific set of kids and experiences isn't universal (the sheer number of kids has to be unusual), it does
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Samantha Mockford
Jan 08, 2016 rated it it was amazing
With the abortion debate getting so heated recently, I recognize that people can't be TRULY pro-life without also supporting the lives that come from those unwanted pregnancies. I love how this woman doesn't sugar-coat the chaos and ugliness that fostering can be, but it's a real look at how it is truly worthwhile. Reading this book, I cried a few times because of hopelessness, and I cried a few times because of beautiful redemption. This has been really visionary and helpful as we consider beco ...more
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Madison Mega-Mara...: another place at the table 1 3 Mar 02, 2012 07:16PM  
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