76 of 80 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Hope's Boy is Haunting and Unforgettable
I was deeply moved by "Hope's Boy," Andrew Bridge's haunting elegy of a childhood that seemed to be lost forever when the author, at age 7, became a ward of the State after being taken from the arms of his young mother on a street corner in North Hollywood, California. Mr. Bridge's unsparing chronicle of his experiences on the front lines of our nation's foster care...
Published on February 5, 2008 by Michael S. Gordon
3.0 out of 5 stars Has its moments!
The part about child abuse, and the author's crusade now as an adult to help defend children's right, is downright admirable. The book itself started well enough, but for some reason I found it a little tedious to read after a while. Do not get me wrong, the author knows how to write a book, but halfway through it just did not keep the momentum that on the earlier pages...
Published 1 month ago by Eddie Wannabee
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76 of 80 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Hope's Boy is Haunting and Unforgettable,
39 of 39 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Disturbing and heartwrenching,
All the loneliness, the cruelty and chronic absence of nurturing and support in Andrew Bridge's life did not fill me with despair as much as the description of his fight as an adult, and an accomplished lawyer, to fight back against the very system that held him in bondage for his entire adolescence.
As a former court appointed special advocate in Colorado (CASA), and now a legal assistant for a Guardian ad litem specializing in family and juvenile law, I see on a daily basis how crippled and inadequate are our bureacracies in regard to foster care and all the children held in its limbo.
The courts are crowded, there aren't enough good homes, and the cases just keep coming...
I know from firsthand experience that children long for their parents, even when neglect feels like the norm and things at home are substandard.The system too often removes the kids, lets them languish too long in foster placements, and fails to provide appropriate support to the parents. ( An eight week class for meth addiction, or a six week workshop to end a life's cycle of domestic violence, etc.) We put band-aids on these families and heal very few of them. Emancipation at 18 is a frightening step for kids who have never had what the average child needs and has provided for him until the age of 26. Andrew Bridge was a victim of our inadequate system, but survived to become a voice to reckon with. His is a story that should not have happened, but the world is better for his courage and honesty in writing this book.
I will allow Andrew Bridge's words to inform my approach to working with the foster kids in Colorado.I also know now that to mention an absent parent's love and struggles should not be a taboo.It might be the very thing that is missing, regardless of the outcome for a family. Thank you, Andrew Bridge.
34 of 35 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Devastating and Unforgettable,
-- Andrew Bridge, Hope's Boy
This is a brave memoir about our nation's horribly broken foster care system, that all too often fails our children and families who are in most need and who are most vulnerable. With a steady and elegant voice, Bridge describes a mother who loved him desperately, and in the end, did more than most would ever ask of themselves, all the while savaged by mental illness. With tenderness, he describes how love can exist alongside failure and how a mother can ultimately "love a child more than she can care for him." The story is profoundly inspirational, told without a trace of bitterness - and clearly required tremendous courage to write.
Bridge went on to Wesleyan University, graduated from Harvard Law School, then devoted his life to the children he remembered -- children with broken lives who still wait for something far better than we give them.
An excellent read - an important one, too.
22 of 22 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Young Man's Courage,
Like a scene from a macabre Tennessee Williams play, Andy is ripped from his over-the-edge mother when she has one too many public meltdowns. "Hope's Boy" is whisked away from the scene. And like one of Williams' characters, from now on Andy's survival will depend upon the kindness of strangers.
That's what kids learn when the bottom falls out. Some folks will like you, but most won't.
Kids remember all the stings. And some of the encouragement. You learn to become an actor, to do what you're told, You've been broken young, by people who aren't your parents. It's just easier to go along to get along.
In his probing memoir, Andy Bridges shows us in graphic detail exactly how good an actor he can be. And it is to his credit, as this quality keeps him tied to one family, the Leonards, for most of his remaining childhood.
He learns that Mrs. Leonard, a Nazi survivor, has mood swings and he needs to stay out of her way. He overhears her gossiping with neighbors about his plight and those of the other foster children that pass through the Leonard's household. He sees there's a revolving door. There's no security here. But he promises to do better.
Bridges' writing is candid, honest, self-effacing . . . and ultimately surprising.
The touchstone of the story is young Jason, another foster child. This child's transformation in the household is portrayed in such a heartbreaking fashion that I found myself having to put the book down at times. It is obvious that the boy had a tremendous effect on Andy. His book is a tribute to Jason.
I say the book is ultimately suprising because I didn't see the personal transformation Andy went through coming. I have seen this in other memoirs. The subject doesn't want to seem to be bragging perhaps. (Or could the security of his foster home have had something to do with it?) But all of a sudden this timid, introverted outcast is running for school body president, getting a scholarship to Wesleyan, wait! Now he's a champion debater.
When did all this happen?
Well, I'm glad it did, because Andrew Bridge, great name by the way, has become a "bridge" to other kids who, through no fault of their own, are cast into a bureaucratic system that strips them of their remaining dignity at just the moment they're most vulnerable. He bookends his memoir with an example of how he has put what he learned as an adult into action.
I know a couple of people who were in the foster system in Los Angeles in the '70's. I've heard horror stories of all kinds of abuse. Bridge relates some of the tragedies pertaining to the arrival of another child into the Leonard household. What happens to the little girl in the body cast -- she is brought into the Leonard's home after being raped and attacked with a baseball bat -- is truly horrifying and you begin to wonder about the balance. The mythology surrounding the evil foster mother is second only to that of the wicked stepmother.
Bridge doesn't exactly give the parents of these battered and abandoned children a free ride but he does reserve his greatest scorn for the "system." And for the Leonards.
Although we don't get a very clear picture of the Leonard children, it seems that Andy has drawn away, realizing that he's just a paycheck to these people and they get to tell him what to do. He seems perplexed at the end why he even bothers to visit them anymore at the holidays and then he stops going.
I found myself perplexed that Grandma Kate didn't swoop back in to rescue Andy, or that she even allowed him to slip from her grasp in the first place. He mentions this in passing later in the book and blames it on the cycle of poverty. He also notes that his mother herself spent some time in foster care when she was young.
The tragedy of course is that it wasn't his mother's fault. They love each other. Bridge lays out why they had to be separated. He's very clear. He tries to cover as much as he can, praying she won't be taken away from him, even as her condition worsens.
I wish Andrew Bridge all the best in life. And he has my gratitude for being such an articulate spokesman for the cause of child welfare.
21 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Beautifully Written Deeply Moving True Story,
19 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Haunting,
26 of 28 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Power of Perseverance and Resilience,
17 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Hope's Boy - True Story of A Child Who Survived The 'Child Protective System',
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MacLaren Hall is now closed, and that part of Hope's Boy is only a small portion of this moving and emotional true-life story. Without revealing the heart of the story, in a way Andrew was lucky, because the safety net today has far more holes than it did back when he was a child caught up in the system.
As deplorable as Andrew's childhod experience was, it's even worse today for children who are taken away from their parents. The eventual closing of MacLaren Hall didn't change the situation for Los Angeles' dependent children. Today a social worker would work more diligently to keep the Bridge family together, because a mentally ill mother is often a better choice than the disinterested foster parent who is only in it for the money. It's also a numbers game. There aren't enough beds in group homes or private foster homes within Los Angeles County to provide for the needs of dependent kids after they're taken away from their parents.
16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Touching and inspriational,
And yet as horrible as Andy's childhood was, Hope's coming back as promised made Andy whole and strong. Empowered, propelled and inspired by his mother's love and devotion, Andrew Bridge was able to persevere through a lonely and harsh childhood in foster care and was able to excel at Harvard Law School and enjoy a successful legal career that he was compelled to leave to devote his time and energy to improving the foster care system, which he did by becoming a leading advocate for children's rights and writing this memoir. This book inspired me to do better as a child and as a mother.
15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Hopes Boy - A strong call to action! - a must read,
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Hope's Boy by Andrew Bridge (Paperback - February 17, 2009)