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27 of 27 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A work of honest love
As a social worker, youth counselor, foster parent and former DCFS foster care caseworker I was deeply touched with the honesty and integrity that Jennifer brings to her work. Rarely has an author been able to so accurately put the reader in the shoes of these wounded kids. While some may be turned off at the bleak hopelessness that many of these kids feel, if we are...
Published on April 21, 2000 by Brad Simkins

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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Compelling stories
The life stories of the children profiled in this book are fascinating, and their experiences in the system are eye-openers (to me, at least). I was frustrated with the writing, however. The author sometimes rapidly skips back and forth to examine events at different times, causing the sequence of the stories to be confusing and some facts to seem inconsistent. Also,...
Published on June 3, 2005 by Annaliese von Sieb


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27 of 27 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A work of honest love, April 21, 2000
This review is from: Orphans of the Living: Stories of America's Children in Foster Care (Paperback)
As a social worker, youth counselor, foster parent and former DCFS foster care caseworker I was deeply touched with the honesty and integrity that Jennifer brings to her work. Rarely has an author been able to so accurately put the reader in the shoes of these wounded kids. While some may be turned off at the bleak hopelessness that many of these kids feel, if we are going to help and heal the youth of today's foster care system, we must first be willing to honestly address the reality of their world. Jennifer does this in a highly professional yet deeply loving way. I HIGHLY recommend this to all foster parents, foster care workers and youth counselors. But mostly, I recommend this to parents of at-risk and troubled youth. It will enlighten all into how the world looks through the eyes of these kids.
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21 of 22 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Definitely worth the read, August 17, 2001
This review is from: Orphans of the Living: Stories of America's Children in Foster Care (Paperback)
Once I was getting on the case of one of my students, who is in foster care, for doing poorly in my class. He just keep saying, "You don't understand, Mr.____. You can't understand." Thanks to Ms. Toth I think I now understand or at least have a better understanding as to why he was doing poorly in my class. Ms. Toth did an excellent job of revealing the horrors that accompany the foster care system and how that system effects the children it supports. I do have a couple criticisms of this book. I can't help thinking that a few of the children chosen for this book are extreme examples (after all one does end up on Jerry Springer). And I think Ms. Toth unfairly demonizes public foster care. Though I am sure public foster care is far from ideal, I suspect that most people who work in that sytem do the best that they can with the limited resources they have available. Those criticisms aside, this book definitely is an eye opener which takes you into a world that few of us know or can even imagine. This is a world that many of our children have to face--alone.
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Extraordinary, January 2, 2002
By A Customer
This is a disturbing book, and anyone who cares will be deeply affected by it. Jennifer Toth is a gifted authour writing about a subject most seem to want to sweep under the rug. Until the difficult aspects of foster care are discussed so openly, changes will not take place. Under the hardships are children who desperately need help, which the current antiquated and bureaucratic system is not always able to provide. This book chronicles the hopes, dreams, successes and failures of some, but are reflective of many in the system.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Compelling stories, June 3, 2005
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This review is from: Orphans of the Living: Stories of America's Children in Foster Care (Paperback)
The life stories of the children profiled in this book are fascinating, and their experiences in the system are eye-openers (to me, at least). I was frustrated with the writing, however. The author sometimes rapidly skips back and forth to examine events at different times, causing the sequence of the stories to be confusing and some facts to seem inconsistent. Also, the author depicts herself in some of the children's stories but not others, so that as a reader I found myself wondering where she had gotten all this information. Overall, it is a good book that probably could have been a great book had it been better edited.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Toth's book graphically illustrates the evils of foster care, February 15, 1998
By A Customer
Unfortunately today, society is no longer surprised by the thought of child neglect or abuse. Such stories are found in the local and national news daily. However, Jennifer 's Orphans of the Living, demands that the issues of child neglect and foster care must not be merely labeled as 3old news.2 The author immerses the reader into the minds of four young people who have grown up within the realm of foster care. Their graphic and heart-piecing anecdotes, clearly relay Toth1s belief that substitute child care does not usually lead the child to happiness or normalcy. Through the stories of these kids, she instead depicts how the foster care system often concentrates more on reputation and politics than the well-being of the children.
Toth provides not a more lucid image of the orphans' psychology, but also on juvenile criminality and violence. Her studies support that abused kids are reduced to thinking that violence will award them with the love and attention of their parents. This book will definitely cause you to view juvenile criminal offenders with new eyes.
Orphan1s of the Living will indeed devour you with its gross and often unbearable rawness. However, as Troth has dutifully acknowledged, we owe it to these kids to hear their stories.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Terrific Expose, January 26, 2001
By A Customer
This review is from: Orphans of the Living: Stories of America's Children in Foster Care (Paperback)
There are few criminal enterprises more cloaked in secrecy than "child welfare" agencies and how the government raises orphans and other kids left to fend for themselves in foster care. Impressively, despite the best efforts of bureaucrats in several states, Jennifer Toth manages to tell the true stories of five unforgettable children in California, Chicago and North Carolina who try to survive the incredible obstacles placed in their way by the government agencies that are supposed to help them. Toth does a magnificent job in putting a face on foster care kids. They'll make you laugh and they'll make you cry, but how they are treated by social workers and the states will just make you angry. Highly recommended
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Eye-Opening, March 21, 2000
By 
greg cohen (Chicago, Ill.) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Orphans of the Living: Stories of America's Children in Foster Care (Paperback)
Jennifer Toth describes vibrantly the lives of five extraordinary children who were thrown away by their families and stuck in the nation's mess of a foster-care system. What these kids have to put up with is unreal -- crazy foster parents, judges and inept social workers keen on covering their butts. Toth does a great job of bringing these kids to life, from the day they were born until they reach adulthood. But she also does an important service in exposing the ridiculous obstacles that foster care puts in their way.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting & thought provoking book, November 11, 2003
This review is from: Orphans of the Living: Stories of America's Children in Foster Care (Paperback)
This book depicts the lives of older children in the foster care system in America. It is a gritty, real, and very compelling book! The chararcters are really well developed and you get the story of not only the foster child himself but their parents, grandparents, sisters, and brothers life stories as well. It really gets you thinking about how these kids ended up this way.....the hopelessness, the helplessness, the isolation these kids feel who don't belong anywhere and it seems nobody wants them. It was depressing but VERY interesting. I'd love to read a follow up book to see how they're all doing 5 or 10 years from now.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Survival in the foster care system, September 26, 2002
By 
Richard Ballard "rjballard" (Saint Louis, Missouri USA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Orphans of the Living: Stories of America's Children in Foster Care (Paperback)
"Orphans of the Living: Stories of America's Children in Foster Care" describes five young people who were raised in the foster care system. These are stories of abuse, of abandonment, of poverty, and of frustration with an underfunded and understaffed social services system. "Orphans ..." documents these five young peoples' histories, and discusses their struggles against an often inflexible and cumbersome social services bureaucracy. Some of these struggles span generations, with young people who were raised in the foster care system becoming adults with infants who in turn are raised by the foster care system -- a cycle of failure. "Orphans ..." also documents the frustration of dedicated and overworked social services staff accepting compromises to make a cumbersome foster care system function.
Jennifer Toth is an excellent investigative journalist who becomes involved personally during an investigation. Ms. Toth learns her subjects' histories, and becomes friendly with her subjects in their urban and rural locales, often attempting to help her subjects work through bureaucratic snafus. She writes clearly and well, conveying the social and legal environment surrounding her subjects.
"Orphans ..." is less sensational than Ms. Toth's previous book "The Mole People: Life In The Tunnels Beneath New York City" because the foster care system *appears* more normal than subterranean tunnels. But "Orphans ..." describes a foster care system that affects a *significantly* greater number of people. The foster care system's flaws are more significant because they cause hardship while breeding anti-social attitudes. Like subterranean tunnels, the foster care system has few quick exits.
I recommend Ms. Toth's book. In "Orphans ..." Ms. Toth has cataloged the foster care system's flaws in a concise, readable and human manner.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Tug At Your Heart, January 9, 2004
This review is from: Orphans of the Living: Stories of America's Children in Foster Care (Paperback)
This is a wonderful book. Heart wrenching but the truth as it is. she bring life to something people would rather ignore. Children who were swept under a rug are given a voice by Jennifer Thoth. I love this book.
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Orphans of the Living: Stories of America's Children in Foster Care
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