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Another Place at the Table Paperback – May 24, 2004

90 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

It's 1988, and Harrison, a happily married mother of three, takes a job with Head Start, working with at-risk four-year-olds. Her heart goes out to the foster kids; before long, she and her husband take state training and adopt two sisters. Five children make a big family, but Harrison finds it tough to turn her back on needy children. She and her husband start accepting emergency care "hot-line" foster children, too; soon, Harrison quits her day job and becomes a full-time-overtime, really-foster parent. In addition to a stay-at-home mom's usual duties, Harrison is caring for children with serious emotional baggage and often complex medical problems. There are lawyers, therapists and social service people to meet with, plus the scheduling of visits to birth mothers, an emotional roller coaster for all parties. Birth mothers, she finds, are often "harder to hate than you might expect," and when an especially difficult child comes along, it's almost impossible to accept that even foster parents have their limitations. And how do you "give enough" to each child so they get a healthy sense of family, "without loving them too much to let them go in the end?" With over half a million American children in foster care today, Harrison's personal but vitally important account should be read by public policy makers and by anyone with a spare room in their home.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From Booklist

With so much awful publicity surrounding foster parenting, Harrison's story of opening her home to foster children, three of whom she later adopted, is tender and inspiring. It is also filled with heartbreaking truths about abused and neglected children and a social service system that is overburdened and occasionally negligent itself. For 13 years, Harrison, along with her husband, three biological sons, and three adopted daughters, has fostered abandoned infants, runaway teens, disabled preschoolers, and children discharged from psychiatric hospitals. The Harrisons also became hot-line foster parents, willing to accept children in emergency situations with little or no notice. Harrison describes the process social workers use to place children, the horrifying circumstances of the children involved, and the training required of foster parents. She brings her story home by focusing, with heart-rending details, on four troubled children, including Danny, a developmentally delayed eight-year-old; Lucy, a deeply depressed eight-year-old abandoned by her mother; seven-month-old Karen, eventually adopted by the Harrisons and later diagnosed with Tourette's syndrome; and Sara, a six-year-old who had been sexually abused. Vanessa Bush
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Tarcher; Reprint edition (May 24, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1585422827
  • ISBN-13: 978-1585422821
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.7 x 8.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (90 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #66,602 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

45 of 45 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on April 22, 2003
Format: Hardcover
Kathy's Harrison's memoir of her life as a foster parent to over one hundred children is at times funny, sad, and heart-wrenching, but always completely honest. She is honest about her own failures and weaknesses, about the difficulty in fostering troubled children, about the many shortcomings of the foster care system, and about the tremendous need each child in that system has for a loving, attentive family. She sugarcoats nothing, yet manages to show the reader each sweet, loving, unique child she took in under the labels of "abused," "troubled" and "mentally ill."
I began this book as someone who never imagined that I would want to be a foster parent, and finished it with the inspiration to pursue it as soon as possible. Harrison is not a superhero, as I previously imagined foster parents to be; she is an ordinary person who has given an extrodinary piece of herself to those members of our society who need it most. Her story, and that of the children she loves, deserves to be read.
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25 of 26 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on December 30, 2003
Format: Hardcover
This book should be mandatory reading for anyone interested in becoming a foster parent. Having been a social worker in the foster care system for many years, I appreciate Kathy's frank presentation of some of the most difficult issues that any foster parent may face. Some people go into fostering with a rosy picture of helping an innocent, angelic child, and those people are setting themselves up to fail. Kathy presents a realistic picture of the ups and downs of fostering, the good and the bad, that is definitely not for the faint of heart but is a true depiction of the feelings and constitution that it takes to bring wounded children into your home. I couldn't put it down.
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24 of 25 people found the following review helpful By Jill B on March 2, 2004
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
As an adoption worker/counselor, I work hard at learning studying about foster care and the issues that face "my" kids and parents. I'd heard good things about this book, and thought I'd give it a try. I had to stop halfway through. I spend all day dealing with the horrible things of foster care - the terrible abuse, the ridiculous beauracracy, the burnt-out workers, and Kathy did a fantastic job of capturing this world. So realistic a job I could hardly call it after-hours reading.
I would definitely recommend this book to anyone wanting to learn and know more about foster care.
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Format: Paperback
This book is about Kathy Harrison's real life as a foster mother and the story about a couple of the children that came into her home. She talks about her true emotions and feelings as she tries to hold these "shattered" children together with, as she puts it, just love and "band aids."

Augusten Burroughs (author of Running with Scissors) said about this book...."Shocking, brutal, heartbreaking and ultimately redemptive, This is the riveting and profoundly moving story of a hero, disguised as an ordinary woman. And like every hero, it's the children she is out to save."

Unlike Augusten I did not find the book "shocking" but honest and realistic to what every foster mom goes through. I could not believe how close our stories were as I read this book. You could have taken out the names of her children and drop in some of mine, tweak their story a little, and it wouldn't ring any truer then what we have seen and gone through.

I cried as she wrote about letting Lucy go to an adoptive home. She loved Lucy but not in the same way as the children she adopted. She wanted to keep her but also wanted Lucy to have that unconditional, total love she deserved. The pain of letting Lucy go tore open those feelings and what we went through with two little boys I had for three years.

She writes about her desire to reach ever child that walked into her home and the heartbreak when she realized love, food, clothes, a home, and safety wont/cant heal all their wounds.

She talks about the times caseworkers have such caviler attitudes to their lack of action that keeps a child in the system longer then need be, or keeps them off the adoption list longer. It reminded me of the unfelt and off the hand "sorry" and "oh, well" I have heard so often.
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12 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on May 29, 2003
Format: Hardcover
Kathy Harrison is not the kind of person who can just sit back and watch others suffer. She isn't the kind of person who feels like making a charitable contribution is doing her part to make the world a better place. Kathy Harrison is one of a special breed of people: someone who is willing to make sacrifices in order to make others happy. For Kathy, those sacrifices mean opening up her home --- and her heart --- to the neediest children in the world. Kathy Harrison is a foster parent but, more importantly, she is a hero to over one hundred children that she has helped through their toughest times.
In ANOTHER PLACE AT THE TABLE, Harrison makes no attempts to glamorize her role as a foster parent. She doesn't make herself out to be a saint. She simply tells it like it is, complete with the disheartening stories of children who have been neglected, abused and abandoned. But throughout the struggles she recounts in her book, there is always a glimmer of light: the children she has helped rehabilitate, the foster children who have found wonderful permanent homes, and the children who Harrison and her husband have adopted themselves. Despite her battles with the social services system, Kathy Harrison has made a difference.
ANOTHER PLACE AT THE TABLE is emotionally draining and fulfilling at the same time. While the subject matter is not lighthearted, the writing is excellent and the reading is fast-paced. Harrison has presented an open, honest view of her life --- faults included. Perhaps that is what makes the book exceptional.
Reflecting on the stories in this book, the phrase "Truth is stranger than fiction" comes to mind. In a world where so many of us live such comfortable lives with caring families, it is hard to believe that the events in this book really happened.
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