- Hardcover: 187 pages
- Publisher: Random House; 1 edition (May 26, 1998)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0375500731
- ISBN-13: 978-0375500732
- Product Dimensions: 1.2 x 6 x 9 inches
- Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces
- Average Customer Review: 9 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #4,326,472 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Jamaica and Me: The Story of an Unusual Friendship Hardcover – May 26, 1998
The Amazon Book Review
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There are no villains, no heroes, and no neat resolutions in this truthfully ambivalent account of a white psychoanalyst's relationship with a troubled African American girl. The author was a volunteer at Brooklyn's Mercy Hospital in 1986 when she first saw 8-year-old Jamaica, one of the countless children abused and abandoned as crack cocaine devastated America's inner cities. Atkins doesn't soften Jamaica's flinty character: she lies, she steals, she seems incapable of feeling affection for the few adults who try to befriend her; she's also lively, smart, and incredibly needy. The author breaks your heart as she contrasts fleeting moments of happiness (Jamaica winning a prize for scariest Halloween costume at a school for emotionally disturbed children) with continual setbacks as the child-care bureaucracy adds to the girl's turmoil by moving her from one institution to another. Atkins can't give Jamaica the home she so desperately needs, but she persuades a previous foster mother to take a second chance on the ornery child. Five years after the woman says she is taking Jamaica with her to Georgia, the author has not heard from either one. "I hope that one day I will see her again," she writes in conclusion, refusing to prettify a painfully honest narrative with unearned optimism. But Jamaica's furious vitality, so movingly portrayed here, gives hope that she will beat the odds. Atkins puts a wrenchingly human face on a pressing social problem. --Wendy Smith
From Publishers Weekly
In the mid-1980s, Atkins, a psychoanalyst with two college-aged children, volunteered to work with displaced girls at a New York City hospital. In this involving and deeply moving account, she describes her friendship with Jamaica, an eight-year-old African American who had been found living in subway tunnels with crack addicts. The child's violent outbursts, lying and stealing alienated her from the staffs at the hospital and the group home to which she was transferred. Finding a buried but receptive spark in Jamaica, Atkins spent considerable time with her, including weekends at the family's beach house. With determination fueled by the conviction that there was no hope for Jamaica at her group home, Atkins placed the girl with a foster mother, who planned to adopt her and take her home to Georgia. The author then lost contact with the girl. Her memoir provides an unsettling commentary on a beleaguered social service system that often fails to help homeless children. Author tour.
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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This book will hopefully inspire others to take action and contribute to "undoing what has been done" to these children.
One organization through which you can effectively speak up for abused and neglected children is CASA