The home page of PerfectlyWriteIsrael currently features a piece about how books are distributed free in the U.K. on World Books Night to encourage people to become confident, enthusiastic readers. While it is a British exercise, I wonder if Ron Deming, the author of the short memoir I review here, ever received similar incentives while trapped in the US foster care system.
More a cold, short social worker’s assessment than a memoir, Steps in My Shoes** gives us an unsettling glimpse into the dark, desperate world of an American foster child.
I understand from other reviews that it is aimed at young people in similar circumstances in the hope that it will help them to overcome their own problems.
How kids like Ron Deming learn to contain their anger and make it into adulthood is a cause for wonder. But how they continue the struggle; become empathetic teachers and successful parents is nothing short of miraculous.
Deming writes: “I went into the foster care system with my oldest biological sister because we were severely neglected. I did not learn the specifics, but it was bad enough to be covered on the news in Fort Wayne, Indiana.”
His sister appears not to have suffered emotionally like him as she was too young to understand what was happening when they were taken from their family home. But Deming developed several disturbing psychologicaldisorders, lived with many sets of temporary ‘parents’ and spent some time in juvenile corrective institutions.
There was an occasional bright spot; a few adults like his maternal grandfather showed him kindness but it was almost too late before he realised that the best source of help would have to come from within.
I don’t often review books like this and I suggest that the author employs another editor; even a ‘ghost writer’ to help him turn these few hastily scribbled pages, stuffed with discomforting, anonymous jargon into a full-length, entertaining book. I am sure like others in the genre, it would gain a respectful, appreciative audience encompassing a wide age range.
** Steps in My Shoes: The Life of a Foster Child is available from Amazon on Kindle @ $2.99 and in Paperback @ $6.99.