Tuesday, April 26, 2011

[Book Review] HOPE'S BOY: A MEMOIR by Andrew Bridge


Andrea reviews HOPE'S BOY: A MEMOIR by Andrew Bridge (Hyperion, 2008)

This is the account of Andy Bridge. Raised by his grandmother Kate for the first five years of his life in Chicago, everything seemed good, except Andy always wondered why he didn’t have two parents around like everyone else. Only when his mother, Hope, showed up to take him to live in California did things get really rotten. Living in squalor and realizing she could not afford to raise her son, Hope abandoned him when he was only seven years old.

Becoming a ward of the state of California, Andy first lived in a group home environment where the children were horribly mistreated in every possible aspect. Later, he lived with the Leonard family where the wife was overbearing but her husband all but ignored Andy. His foster siblings imitated their parents’ behavior, since they had so many foster children come in and out of their house growing up.

Whereas, the average foster child will live with a family no more than two and a half years, Andy lived with the Leonards for 11 years--from the time he was seven until he was emancipated by the state at age 18. The author claimed that just because he lived with the family didn’t mean he was ever loved or accepted by them.

Andy realized that academic achievement, determination, and persistence were his only ways to get out of such a despairing situation. After being accepted and receiving a sizable scholarship to attend Wesleyan College in Connecticut, Andy saw his way out. His foster father’s only comment about Andy’s success was, “Where’s that school located?”

Becoming “Andrew” in college and after being accepted into Harvard Law School, the author became an advocate for foster children nationwide. He currently serves as the Los Angeles Executive Director of the Alliance of Children’s Rights.

Andrew could have gotten lost and shuffled around the system, but he always knew someone out there needed him. Maybe his mother was not capable of raising him and the Leonard family saw him just as another foster kid but the author knew his worth. Knowing these two things, Andrew Bridge has made huge strides for foster relationships and children’s rights throughout the Los Angeles area.

I finished this memoir in two days. It reminded me a lot of The Glass Castle in the fact that the author doesn't want sympathy; he is just telling his story. Check it out sometime!

Andrea King, Poplar-White Station Library

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