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Please be careful when reading this book.


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Initial post: Jan 25, 2008 12:26:48 PM PST
S. Fletcher says:
I lived in the same foster home as Andy did. It was a loving and generous family. Andy had warped views of why he was in foster care. Lashing out at those trying to help him and seeing his sick, drug using mother, who had failed him, as part of his dream of the perfect childhood he wished he had.

Please be careful when reading this book. It is written of a tragic little boy who's mentally ill mother implanted unrealistic dreams in him that caused him to see malice where there was none and abuse where there was generosity and love.

Many of the incidents related of his foster care experience are grossly warped or completely false. There are many loving families like the one that did all that they could to nurtured Andy that are volunteering their time, energy and home that are being vilified because a few bad instances. For the few biological or foster parents that neglect, endanger or abuse their children there are thousands that are doing heroic and marvelous good.

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 30, 2008 8:43:16 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Jan 31, 2008 5:09:10 AM PST
T. Roach says:
Who cares if you lived a different life than Andy? That is the life he remembers and yours is yours. The names have been changed, how do you know that is the family you stayed with. Even if it turned out this story was fiction, How could it hurt to shed some light on the flawed foster system that many children with sick or neglectful parents have to face daily. I was deeply moved by the story in the Readers Digest enough to want to purchase the book. I will. I doubt, being a lawyer, he could make unfounded accusations or smear a GOOD NAME without legal consequences unless it WAS true. We will all be "careful" reading this book, careful to see these children in a different light and maybe be an advocate for kids who cannot speak for themselves. I hope many people purchase this book. Also, no foster parents "volunteer"their time and home, they are amply compensated by the state, so lots do it for the money not love and not to teach a good example!!

As I thought more on what I had read and written last night it occured to me that, how would another child know what this boy had went through? You were not with him and his mother, only he was. You only got information from the foster family on what they say happened. YOu have NO idea if his mother was on drugs, again, because you were not with them. You are also a girl, maybe this family treated you differently than they treated him, you just don't know what people do behind closed doors or out of the presence of others. Kindness and love may have been extended to you, but not to him. Were you a young young girl? One never knows what happens in the life of others unless you are the person in question. So things may have been that way for him, and not for you, but don't presume to know his mother was anything but mentally ill, unless you slept in their home, hotel, street or whatever with them and actually witnessed her doing drugs. YOu only know what you are told!!

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 31, 2008 7:49:17 AM PST
S. Fletcher says:
You are right about one thing. I only know what I saw and what ANDY told me. I was in that home for 10 of the 11 years that Andy was so I kind of doubt that I would have missed the abuse he claims he was submitted to. I meet Hope. Besides her court ordered visits, she barged in sometimes in the middle of the night, trying to kidnap Andy. She was not fit to care for Andy and caused him all sorts of conflict putting him in the middle of a tug-a-war.

And if you think that back in the 70's in Los Angeles foster families received, even close to what it costs to raise a child in a good middle class home, you are badly misinformed. As for lawyers misrepresenting the truth...well that's another misconception you may want to re-examine.

One last note: If you see any pictures of Andy with guitars or pets or in a pool, those were all taken in the foster home he so badly maligned. As a matter of fact, I don't recall Andy ever having a picture taken by or with Hope.

Andy has done a great deal of good for the children in foster care. But his own personal story was not the horrible environment he presents in his book. The saddest part of the story is that he has been telling his tragic story for so long, I think he really believes it.

In reply to an earlier post on Feb 2, 2008 8:34:10 PM PST
S, were you a foster child too? There were biological children in the home. If you were one of them, it is understandable that you would have a different experience in the home.

The point about the guitar and pool equates material things with a happy environment. Many happy people have very little and people with lots of "toys" can be miserable.

In reply to an earlier post on Feb 12, 2008 5:13:12 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Mar 17, 2008 10:43:22 AM PDT
Sam I Am says:
I have six half-siblings from five failed marriages between my biological parents. Each of us has an entirely different perspective on our childhood experiences. You cannot speak honestly on behalf of every foster child. The only experience you can honestly report about is your own.

The nature of foster care, especially in Los Angeles County, is that the substitute families are never going to be as competent as the real parents of the children. Some do their best while others are simply in it for the money. I know a child who is thrilled to be in a long-term foster home, after years of living with an erratic, drunken grandparent.

Andrew's foster mother did not do her job to help him maintain ties with his biological mother, which is a vital part of the task of being a foster parent. Even if you believe that the biological parents or relatives are disgusting human beings, as long as the court allows for family visits, that is your job as a foster parent, even if it means driving that child from the wealthy comfort of the suburbs out to Norwalk to visit the mother while she's living in a mental institution. Even as a teenager, he shouldn't have had to set out on his own by bus to visit his mother. That was your foster mother's job, the one you hold in such high regard, and maybe she did a good job caring for you, but obviously Andrew's needs weren't met.

The only reason I mention my own family situation is that there are seven children with wildly different perceptions of their childhood experiences. One was adopted by a stepfather. Three others were adopted by a different stepparent. A fourth child refused to be adopted and today maintains a cordial relationship with his biological father but despises his stepfather. Do you see where this is going? We have in our own family seven adult children who could easily write seven different tell-all expose books, and all of them would be true, as the world filtered through the eyes of our own personal experience.

In reply to an earlier post on Feb 14, 2008 1:47:52 PM PST
S. Fletcher says:
Thanks for sharing your experience and perspective. You are quite right. I just was upset that the memoir that Andy wrote seemed mean spirited in his description of the foster family.

In reply to an earlier post on Feb 14, 2008 7:55:28 PM PST
Sam I Am says:
Thank you. It is always good to hear both sides of the story. There are positive outcomes and good experiences for many foster children. One group home in LA County that I am personally aware of had a fantastic staff who went out of their way to find positive experiences for the kids in their care. Unfortunately, budget cuts at the state level closed the doors of this excellent facility last year.

In reply to an earlier post on Feb 16, 2008 6:59:42 PM PST
I find your criticisms interesting in that I didn't think that Andy maligned the foster home at all. He told the story through his eyes. Through his heart. Your perception is different. I was also raised in a foster home. My brother and sister in a separate home. Their home was lead by my violent, alcoholic step-grandfather. My sister has only fond memories of him. However, the other foster kids who lived there have a very different memory. I only heard stories. I don't really know. Andy's perception is his reality. The book is about how he felt, what he saw. I don't understand why you want to take that from him. That's very interesting to me.

In reply to an earlier post on Feb 27, 2008 1:49:52 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Feb 27, 2008 8:55:18 PM PST
Author says:
I loved the book and Andrew is a talented writer. I did not get the impression the home you lived in with him was a bad atmosphere. The mythology of the evil foster mom is as prevalent as the wicked stepmother but that doesn't make it true. I think what bothered Andrew the most, and why he turned away from the family that gave him a home, a swimming pool, and the security to make it to Harvard Law, is the story of young Jason. It was heartbreaking to hear this child begging the Leonards to make him a permanent part of the family, like Andy was.

Maybe he wishes he was a little nicer to him.

I know of two people, not related to each other, who were in the LA County foster care system in the 70's. I told one of them Andy's story and he said, "He had a pool?" This guy was sent to work on chicken ranches and dog-breeding operations. But he turned out to be a successful executive and a humanitarian like Andy who has actually put his experience into good works.

The other guy became a crack addict, betrayed family and friends, blamed everyone else for his bad luck, and disappeared.

In reply to an earlier post on May 6, 2008 2:19:46 PM PDT
S. Lloyd says:
My impressions of the foster home are about the same as Author's. It goes to show that as there are varying perspectives inside that home, there are varying perspectives of readers about that home. What came through was that in their way, the Leonards were good to Andy but that they did not give him what he ultimately needed - a connection with his mother (through visits, calls or even just talking nicely about her). Also, he admits his failures to love others who reached out to him. Are we going to blame him? He was a kid and felt vulnerable.

In reply to an earlier post on May 6, 2008 2:28:32 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on May 6, 2008 2:29:17 PM PDT
S. Lloyd says:
To S. Fletcher:
The horrible environment he presents in his book is really in his head. By that I mean that while he acknowledges that the Leonards did good things for him he was grieving inside all the while. How about how he rejects the outgoing kid who invites him skiing? Doesn't that show you that everything he experienced was filtered through immense pain and vulnerability? So don't take it hard that he felt like he wasn't a part of that family. I didn't read it as a slur on them (though I don't care for some of the house rules) just a fact that he didn't really belong to them. Rather he belonged to his real mother, who even though mentally ill, still loved and claimed him.

In reply to an earlier post on May 6, 2008 2:56:24 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on May 6, 2008 3:06:22 PM PDT
To S. Lloyd and S. Fletcher:

I actually feel that you both are partially on track in your assessments of what went on in the Leonard home, but what I feel is most important to remember, most of
all BECAUSE it is what is most important to Andrew is that the Leonards did not let
Andrew continue in his love and relationship to his mother by avoiding contacts between him and her and by showing NO EMPATHY to his mothers ILLNESS. Let's remember that this is an illness she had and NOT a character flaw! A child has an amazing gift for fairness and what is right and Andrew knew that not enough was being done for his mother, in spite of everyone's ability to do so. THIS is what makes him angry and in my opinion rightfully so.

Posted on Sep 27, 2009 1:44:38 PM PDT
KellyK says:
I'm squarely on the fence in this discussion. Bridge's book is a compelling inside view of the inadequacies of the foster care system, but it is from the perspective of a person whose personality has been warped by the nurturing of a mentally ill and apparently paranoid mother in his vitally important first six years. Because of this skewed view of what other people had to offer, he seems to have gone thru childhood and adolescence primed to search out the worst in people, and that can result in self-fulfilling prophecies. Many of Andy's problems seemed to come from his refusal to communicate with *anyone* about his feelings, hopes, and needs.

Frustratingly, he apparently still has this problem. I was so hungry for information about Bridge after I finished the book - ANYTHING about his personal life that would round him out as a person -that I did a google search to find out if he has a family or any variety of significant other, and as yet cannot find anything about him outside the pages of his book. This makes the book sadly two-dimensional. He might as well have just written a book about the foster care system and left himself out of it, for all we know of him over and above the pains of growing up 'foster.'

Posted on Sep 27, 2009 1:45:04 PM PDT
KellyK says:
I'm squarely on the fence in this discussion. Bridge's book is a compelling inside view of the inadequacies of the foster care system, but it is from the perspective of a person whose personality has been warped by the nurturing of a mentally ill and apparently paranoid mother in his vitally important first six years. Because of this skewed view of what other people had to offer, he seems to have gone thru childhood and adolescence primed to search out the worst in people, and that can result in self-fulfilling prophecies. Many of Andy's problems seemed to come from his refusal to communicate with *anyone* about his feelings, hopes, and needs.

Frustratingly, he apparently still has this problem. I was so hungry for information about Bridge after I finished the book - ANYTHING about his personal life that would round him out as a person -that I did a google search to find out if he has a family or any variety of significant other, and as yet cannot find anything about him outside the pages of his book. This makes the book sadly two-dimensional. He might as well have just written a book about the foster care system and left himself out of it, for all we know of him over and above the pains of growing up 'foster.'

Posted on Sep 30, 2009 11:01:11 PM PDT
S. Fletcher says:
How incredibly insightful of you. As I did not appreciate his grossly inaccurate description of the home I grew up in, I felt compelled to correct it. I will not go into more detail than is needed to set it straight, though Andrew opened that door.

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 9, 2009 7:19:53 PM PST
I really don't agree with you on this point Kelly. I DID contact him through email when I was thinking of volunteering to help children like him. He directed me to CASA which stands for Court Appointed special Advocates for Children. He had recently visited there Andrew lives in the East Coast New York, if I remember correctly. He is finding his way and giving back to society in MANY ways. Anyone
who can withstand the rigors of Law School and especiallY Harvard Law School can't be doing too bad. Wish Andrew would write more about this subject.

Posted on May 11, 2010 8:29:38 PM PDT
Why all these attacks on someone who's simply presenting another point of view? Doesn't he have the right to defend the family if that's what he believes?

In reply to an earlier post on Jun 25, 2011 9:57:09 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on Sep 18, 2011 4:01:43 PM PDT
Scotty says:
Northhollywoodbookfan: You are right - each child has a unique perspective on their own life. I was placed in foster care in another state at the age of four, along with three other siblings. My younger sister and I were removed from an "orphanage" and shortly placed in a foster home where we were eventually adopted. We were well loved and every effort was made to make us their children in every sense possible. I was extremely lucky. My story had a good ending. Not so for my two older siblings who remained in the orphanage for several years. Often on weekends they would be picked up by strangers and taken to unfamiliar homes on a "tryout" basis. Eventually they were placed in a foster home. According to my older sister, the family hated her. My brother ran away several times and was eventually returned to the orphanage and adopted by a loving family, but damage had been done and when he reached 18, he disappeared. Who knows where he is and what he is doing. My sister eventually ran away from her foster home, got married early, divorced in short order, and has lived alone now for over 30 years. She holds a good job, has a few good friends, but she, too, is damaged. She won't let anyone get too close to her. She doesn't want much contact with her siblings, me included. Each of us children, now adults, have difficulty trusting people. We look for ulterior motives. We are hypervigilent, hoping for acceptance from others, but not expecting it. We all have constructed a life within a comfort zone and fear venturing out of that zone. We all have struggled with depression, self-steem issues, abandonment issues, trust issues. We all have a ghost family that was, but will never be a real family.

In reply to an earlier post on Sep 18, 2011 12:19:14 PM PDT
S. Fletcher, thank you for this post. As a teacher, I observed a number of boys who had lost their mothers for whatever reason: abandonment, divorce, or death, it didn't matter. They were greatly affected by their loss, much more than girls. The overwhelming response was to idealize the absent mother. In this book, he lives with his mother for less than two years, and yet he worships her far more than the grandmother who raised him for the first 6 years of his life. He readily accounts how she left him in a hotel room alone the first night she had him, lived with a man who abused him, took him along on a burglary attempt, and routinely sent the six year old to the store to buy cigarettes for her. Yet he demonizes the people who provided a stable home for him for eleven years. One viewer called his foster mother sadistic. I think that is a tad harsh. Yes, she was strict, yes she was demanding, and yes, he recounts one incident where she hurt his ear. But she also cooked his meals, did his laundry, threw birthday parties for him, and much more. People have faulted this woman for not fostering the relationship between Andy and his mother. Couldn't it be that she was protecting Andy from his mother who obviously, for whatever reason, was unable to care for Andy? Hope was unstable and a drug addict to boot. Not sure any of us would want someone like that to barge into our house in the middle of the night, especially when other children besides Andy were living in the home.

Posted on Sep 24, 2011 3:13:24 PM PDT
Oh my gosh, you summed it all up perfectly! Thank you for your very insightful comment.
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Participants:  13
Total posts:  20
Initial post:  Jan 25, 2008
Latest post:  Sep 24, 2011

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Hope's Boy
Hope's Boy by Andrew Bridge (Paperback - 2008)
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