I like romance and boys loving boys in my books.
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I received this book for free from the author's publicist after being alerted to its existence by Heidi Cullinan. Thank you, Tom, for sending it, and thank you, Heidi for bringing it to my attention.
It's heartbreaking to read about these kids, thrown away by the people who were supposed to love them and protect them, trying to find their place in life, and failing miserably, despite the efforts of the social workers who give so much of themselves to help them.
It's heartbreaking to know that this is real life, that this sort of thing happens every day in every city and state in this country, and there aren't enough resources to save them all.
It's heartbreaking to know that LGBTQ kids have little hope and little chance of making it, simply because of who they are and whom they love. Abused, neglected, thrown into the streets, they resort to drugs to numb themselves against the pain and anger, sex for hire to buy the drugs, lashing out at the very people who are trying to help them. Some of them are HIV+, and their chances are even more bleak. Antiretroviral drugs aren't cheap and must be taken regularly to work - an option these kids don't often have.
In this memoir, Ryan Berg paints a bleak picture of real life for these kids in the New York foster care system, chronicling his experience as a residential counselor in two different group homes for LGBTQ teens, most of whom are POC. He tries to help them prepare for life after the group home, when they age out of the system, but realizes quickly after starting in that position that the adversity these kids face is nearly insurmountable, for various reasons.
The author, with sensitivity and much heart, tells the stories of the young people he tries to help, and calls out the serious lack of resources, of funding, of programs that work. He doesn't shy away from telling it as it is in all its ugliness. There are many moments where his frustration shines through, deservedly so, when a kid takes one step forward, and two steps back, when red tape and rules prevent him from doing the one thing that might help.
Overall, the book is full of heartache and despair. While there are some success stories in it, a large number of kids never make the transition to successful adults, and instead sink deeper into addiction, and continue on the downward spiral of prostitution and drugs, eventually ending up as another statistic, another young life destroyed before reaching its potential.
Mr. Berg lists a variety of agencies, charities, and crisis hotlines as available resources at the end of the book. There is much work to be done, and much money is needed to help these marginalized children all over this country of ours.
My thanks to the author's publicist for providing my copy of this book for review.